Please watch for follow up blog postings and resources at the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association's website at www.polyadvocacy.ca
I will also blog about it and the impact of the decision on polyamourous households in British Columbia and across Canada.
It is with mixed emotions - excitement, fear, and relief among others - that I wait for this decision to be released. One can ponder all the possible outcomes and their ramifications but really we just have to wait and see. Am I likely to be faced with prosecution? Probably not but for sure not right away. There's an RCMP investigation in process regarding trafficking of BC girls to Warren Jeffs in Texas that will have to be complete and then they'll focus on Bountiful. I think that it was pretty clear in the proceedings that all sides have a problem with the law as it stands. I think some direction on interpretation to make it possible to prosecute under this law is the worst that can happen. I felt that the plight of honourable loving polyamorous families was heard by Chief Justice Bauman and I believe any such interpretation will not include us. Direction that the law is written so poorly that interpretation would in essence rewrite the law is the best outcome for all really. Legislation that leaves no loop holes for those who truly do not have the best interest of others at heart and a zero tolerance for the abuse of men, women and children wherever it is found are shared interests in all of the participants in this case. Legislation that does not criminalize the victims ought to be a key here as well.
I don't think that there are many who have read the press or the actual documentation from the proceedings that would see the victims of abuse at Bountiful and other such colonies continue to suffer. The problem is in assuming all multi-partnered households operate the same way. Abuse is found in monogamous homes and perfectly healthy families exist in a multi-partnered families. The structure of the relationship does not protect the individuals from being presupposed to abusive relationships nor accepting a growingly abusive relationship as it insidiously begins with that first inappropriate comment or action. The core of it is between the ears of each and every one of us. Self-esteem and those inner tapes from our childhood that tell us how to treat other people and what to expect and accept from other people.
How do you legislate that? In a monogamous setting when the spouse is battered enough, the abuser is thrown in jail - maybe- there are restraining orders - maybe- there is court ordered treatment for addictions and psychiatry - maybe. The resources are not there really to support any kind of recovery but it can take place to varying degrees. The victims have transitional housing, financial help, counselling and more often long term adjustments and deep poverty. The courts are involved, the police, the children's ministry, non-profit support services, church groups, family members. Legislation that is clear is difficult to enforce when intimate relationships and domestic abuse or child abuse occurs. The end to abuse starts between the ears of the victim and the abuser. They have to understand what is really occurring and why it is not acceptable. When we truly believe that we deserve no better treatment or some higher power demands that we endure or participate in verbal, emotional or physical treatment of ourselves or another such that we/they are battered and miserable to ANY degree - not just when they arrive in the emergency ward - the input of friends, family, police or ministry personnel may or may not have much of an impact. The message has to get past the ears, through all that grey matter and into the heart and belief system of the individuals.
The message that human life is meant for exploration, growth, freedom and happiness and that every human has a right to be happy, appreciated and loved. Every human being has a right to expect those who love them to treat them with respect and kindness. You don't have to do anything to deserve it. You exist and thus deserve it same as those who would deny your happiness in preference to their own.
The province of British Columbia just introduced amendments to its Family Relations Act to address domestic abuse and look at these issues from the perspective of the well being of the children involved. In a nutshell, all decisions are to be based on what is best for the child and all other rights take a second place to that. Terminology that is gender based or a bit antagonistic (parental support now instead of maintenance etc.) will be removed.
The law and those who enforce it begin to speak to the sense of self of the parents and child and the mission of parenthood which is the well being of the child. Legislation valuing people is a good step towards those people valuing themselves.
Regardless of the decision in this case and the process of appeal or amending legislation that may take years, the work at Bountiful - and anywhere domestic and child abuse is secreted in homes of every description across Canada - has only just begun. Eradicating domestic and child abuse in my life time is a dream that I continue to dream. What a wonderful country we'd live in where every child - male or female - grew up to experience a life where intimate partners' and family members' support and empowerment is the norm and stories of domestic abuse and child abuse are only in the history books.