Nowadays you skirt around the edges of a story like this.
Hesitant to call it what it is. Certain there will be consequences for such honesty, some trolling or bullying or confrontation down the road.
Who needs it? Enough battles in life as there is.
So we say nothing.
It has become sadly political, domestic violence. Perhaps no one knows this better than Duty Inspector Mike Maloney of the Ottawa Police Service.
For many reasons – professional and personal -- Maloney is under no misunderstanding about what happened in the Upper Ottawa Valley this week.
“From early indications, this was a classic case of violence against women,” says Maloney. “All the signs are there, all the anger, the patterns of control and abuse.”
Cops are rarely taken in by clever arguments that control, violence and murder are gender neutral. Cops know that almost all cases of domestic-violence are cases of men abusing women.
That’s the reality. It is not being politically correct. It is being honest.
Maloney headed up the Ottawa police tactical squad for many years and he saw the worst domestic abuse cases -- the standoffs; the homicides -- but he knew the realities of domestic abuse long before he became a cop.
He was raised knowing what it was all about.
Maloney’s mother was imprisoned for killing her abusive partner, snapping one night after her boyfriend had her play a game of Russian Roulette. She was the only contestant.
She shot him after he passed out. She did ten years in the Kingston Women’s Prison.
“It’s all about control, more than hatred or violence,” he says. “One partner needs to control the other. And it’s men who seem to need that control.”
Control. Everything about Basil Borutski screams anger and control, mixed with self-pity, a man who blamed others for his misfortunes and brought a world of hurt upon himself – prison time, court judgments – when he lost control of his family.
The news stories to come, I suspect, will paint a dismaying picture of just how little can be done – by our police, by our courts -- to protect society from a person like that.
In the end – when Borutski decided to take his self-destruction to the next level -- his victims were all women.
That is not coincidence.
“It is so sad and familiar,” says Maloney. “I dream of a day when I won’t read stories like this. I wonder all the time what it will take, to finally end domestic violence.”
He also wonders what he can do to bring about that day. Or what men in general can do.
Tonight, as it turns out, is the annual Take Back the Night March in Ottawa. The march has been planned for months, and it would seem only natural if the number of marchers swelled this year, given the tragedy in the Valley.
Maloney doubts it will happen.
“I will be there, and in my uniform, but it’s not an event that normally sees a lot of male participation,” he says. “I’m sure there are some women who will feel it is inappropriate, me being there. There is a lot of politics around this issue.”
It is sad to see someone like Maloney -- given his background -- second-guessing himself about making a symbolic stand against domestic violence. It does indeed show the politics around this issue.
I don’t know how to solve the politics, but I do believe any problem-solving attempt should start with clearly identifying, and naming, the problem.
So let’s do that.
Domestic abuse is violence against women. It appears that is what happened in the Ottawa Valley.
We gain nothing by denying it.
September 26, 2015