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'Total despair' over killing of two children in Laval, need to spot red flags: experts


Domestic violence support groups are in anguish after learning that two children were killed in an apparent case of family violence in Laval on Monday night.

"My reaction is one of total despair," said Melpa Kamateros, executive director of Shield of Athena Family Services.

"It's 2022. We've had a series of reforms within the legal system. We're talking more about the issue of femicides and conjugal violence – yet here we are," she said.

Specific details about the Laval crime, including more context about the family relationships and the situation that may have led to the murders, have not yet been made public by police.

A 45-year-old man is facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the killings.

But it will be important in this case, as with other cases of apparent family or conjugal violence, to analyze and understand each one individually if it's to be prevented, said Kamateros.

In Quebec, there now exist 'death review' committees that examine the causes and circumstances of deaths linked to conjugal and family violence.

In 2017, when the Liberal government launched the initiative, then public security minister Martin Coiteux said he expected the committee's annual reports would result in more effective prevention methods.

"It's to see in what context they're connected," Kamateros said. "Was it done within a conjugal context? Was it done upon the moment of rupture (separation or divorce)? Was it done because a certain situation developed?"

"We as a society have to be able to connect the dots so that we can have some predictability," she said. "We have to be able to see the red flags."

She said femicide and family violence cannot be seen as just a women's issue. Many more men have to take a stand, she said, acknowledge it exists and say they won't tolerate it and will support victims of abuse and violence.


According to figures Kamateros provided to CTV News, between May 2020 and now, 44 women and children have been killed in Quebec in family violence situations.

Half of the women were between the ages of 24 and 44 and 16 per cent of the murder victims were children as young as three.

The shelter's data includes a woman who died by suicide after her alleged abuser was acquitted.

While each violent act has to be examined individually, experts say some common triggers have emerged.

  • territoriality: when there are issues that have to do with power, control and possessiveness, even the feeling there's a natural right to control whether a partner lives or dies
  • revenge: using the children as a weapon to cause extreme pain to the spouse who perhaps decided to leave the couple or an abusive partner

There have been several reforms in Quebec over the last few years, including the introduction of electronic monitoring bracelets, separate tribunals for sexual and domestic violence cases, and special police crisis teams that focus exclusively on conjugal violence calls.

But however positive the developments are, it's not enough, said Kamateros.

She said there needs to be more public education and the erasure of all stigma associated with being a victim of family violence.

"It's easier today to say you're the victim of a terrible disease than you are of domestic violence," Kamateros said.

With files from Rob Lurie. Top Stories

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