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Living with a SHADOW

How biased reporting evokes sympathy for women and antipathy against men


There may be an astronomically small chance that "Amanda" in the Journal story below isn't Erwin Miller's [not his real name] ex-wife, but, as Celeste McGovern said in her report on Erwin Miller's trial in the July 3, 1995 issue of the Alberta Report, "... although all three parties swore they were trying to avoid each other, their encounters seemed to defy mathematical chance."
   Just the same with the article shown below.  There are so many similarities between the largely uncorroborated allegations Erwin Miller's ex-wife told and that the judge accepted at face value in Erwin Miller's show trial, notwithstanding that "Amanda talks about her "daughter" and not the two sons Mr. Miller fathered with his wife, the similarities seem to defy mathematical probability.

    It doesn't matter whether the truth is told or not in this one-sided representation of a fancy mixture of fact and fiction, as long as the aim of slandering men and the exposure of the "patriarchal conspiracy" in law enforcement is properly exposed... anything goes!
    However, if we need a trial by media even two years after the actual trial took place, wouldn't it be prudent journalism to give both sides their say?  Alas, when it comes to slandering men, all men, in the name of "her," that is not ever the case.

Other than that, the Edmonton Journal story is an excellent piece of feminist agitprop.

Edmonton Journal, August 24, 1997, page H1

Living with a SHADOW

Wherever she went Amanda knew her husband would be there, watching and waiting

Story by Dave Finlayson
Journal Life Writer
__________________________________________________________

For almost three years Amanda  lived with a shadow.  A horrifying shadow that was  never out of her life no matter  what she did or where she  went.

It was even in her house when she wasn’t there.

She was sure the shadow would one day take her life, just as Carol Meredith lost hers in Cold Lake recently, allegedly killed by her ex-husband. And as Karen Tremoyne almost lost hers in Edmonton this week after allegedly being set on fire by her estranged husband.

“My ex-husband stalked me for two and a half years before the new stalking law came in. It was two and a half years of pure hell. I didn’t think I was going to make it,” says Amanda (not her real name).

When she went to a restaurant, he would be there peering in the window.

She would take her seat in the theatre to find he was in the same row or right behind her.

He would drive at her with his car and brake or swerve at the last moment.

He would regularly break into her house, not stealing anything but making sure she knew he had been there.  Changing the locks didn’t help.  He once left all the doors and windows open in the middle of winter.  Other times he would break windows.

She would get up in the morning to find her car tires slashed.

He would question their daughter, her friends and service people such as hairdressers to find out about her life.  She eventually stopped telling her daughter where she was going when she went out.

He even moved into the same apartment building as one of her friends so he could keep tabs on her. “I didn’t feel safe anywhere.  I didn’t trust anybody so I stopped going out, except to work.”

But still there were the phone  calls at work and at home, often as many as 10 in a 15-minute period.

“It was unbelievable. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

So why didn’t she go to the police?

Well, she did.  Many times.

Every time she was told she was wasting their time, that these things happen and there wasn’t anything they could do, she says.

She got a total of 14 restraining orders against her ex at about $1,500 each, which left her broke.

In fact Amanda says her experience with the police and the Court system was almost as bad as the stalking itself.

The police never took me seriously and the judges just rapped him on the knuckles and told him not to do it again.  Their attitude was unbelievable.  Going to court is anybody’s worst nightmare.  The system victimizes people who are already victims.”

There was no physical abuse in the marriage, the main criterion in charges being laid, but Amanda initiated the split out of fear there would be violence.

Her husband, always a control freak, started getting paranoid, she says.  He didn’t want her doing anything that didn’t involve him, would  constantly ask her where she was going when she went out and would listen in on any phone calls she got at home.  Every cent she earned at her job had to be accounted for.

When the split came he wouldn’t leave the house.  He put a gun to his head and threatened suicide, prompting the police SWAT team to be called in.

Amanda didn’t know it at the time, but it was a precursor to three years of absolute hell which only changed when the so-called stalking law was introduced.

Her ex was charged -- one of the first under the new law -- and spent 13 months in jail. He was released last winter, lives in B.C. and is not allowed to return to Alberta.

Amanda realizes that may not stop him, but so far her life is finally her own and she’s slowly getting back on track.  Her work is going well and she’s venturing out more, but there are serious scars that likely will never heal.  She won’t go by herself at night and still doesn’t trust people after some of those she thought were her friends betrayed her in her darkest times.

“I’m definitely more cautious about everything.”

Her daughter, now an adult. is still grappling with what happened.

“She feels pulled apart.  She keeps in touch with her dad, but I don’t want to know anything about him.”

One of the pluses, perhaps the only one, of the whole nightmare was that Amanda found out who her true friends were, and says she couldn’t have made it without them.

“I was lucky to have friends who supported me and kept telling me it would be alright.”

“And I had an incredible lawyer who went the extra mile.  One time I couldn’t afford the cost of the restraining order and she said it was her gift to me.”

Amanda is pleased there is now a group -- Protection and Restraining Order Project (PROP) -- that provides financial support for women seeking restraining orders.

But it’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Restraining orders should be longer than the current three months, she says, and governments should invest more money in programs to combat family violence.

There should also be better training programs for judges, lawyers and police who have to deal with it.

“Nobody should have to go through what I went through.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's a touching story, but it bears little relationship to the facts discovered during the trial of Erwin Miller.
    Erwin Miller's ex-wife, a.k.a. Dr. Orr, is a psychotherapist who had obtained her Ph. D. in Psychology through funding provided by her husband, a successful jewellery manufacturer, and set up her practice -- again paid for by her husband -- 78 yards away from her husband's shop in St. Albert, North of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
    A Ms. Sherry Ferland, was referred to her as a patient by the Workers Compensation Board.  During the increasingly intensive "treatment" of the "stress" of Ms. Ferland, Dr. Orr managed to accomplish a number of things.  She bestowed 100 different personalities on poor Ms. Ferland and fell in love with her patient to boot.  That was while she was still married to Mr. Miller.  And she managed to get paid well for all of her efforts -- paid by the Workers Compensation Board for the "treatment" of Ms. Ferland and paid by her ex-husband.  She kept her office, the matrimonial home, the car and the kids (two teenage sons).
    She got her husband evicted from the matrimonial home within less than a week of announcing her intention of divorcing him and slapped a restraining order on him that prevented him from coming within 100 yards of their home and her office (remember, he paid for that office, and his own business was within 78 yards of that office), upon which she called the police every time he went into his business or whenever he dropped his sons off at their matrimonial home.  Ms. Ferland now lives in the matrimonial home that Mr. Miller had acquired by spending his hard-earned money.  All of this without there ever having been the slightest indication of any violence on his part in their marriage, as she herself testified at the trial.
    No doubt Mr. Miller didn't take kindly to all of this and a game of mutual stalking evolved, for the participation in which only Mr. Miller was charged.  He now faces deportation, after having been sentenced to a five-year term of which he served the mandatory one-third.  In addition, the terms of the current restraining order against him prevent him from ever setting foot into Alberta.  However, in spite of having destroyed her husband's livelihood and having deprived him of his freedom and a large part of his possessions, Dr. Orr, Erwin Miller's ex-wife, still complains.  Although Justice Alec Murray extended her all the help he could give (see Celeste McGovern's report), she still claims that the justice system treated her horribly (I wonder how Justice Alec Murray feels about her now?).  Even though the police arrested her husband on numerous occasions and even though her husband was incarcerated for four-and-a-half months following his last arrest prior to his trial, she feels that the police didn't protect her sufficiently.  What were the police (the RCMP always get their man) supposed to do, torture him to death?
    Could it be that she reserved some of her effective therapy for herself and applied it to affect her own rationality to some extent?


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