Life on her own terms
glamorous to 19-year-old Mona Gill.
So in 1991, through an arrangement between her grandfather and
her future husband’s parents, Gill quit college to marry a man she
“My parents thought I was coming to a better life,” Gill says.
Once settled with her husband in Edmonton, the abuse began. It
escalated after their daughter was born and when her mother-in-law
and sister-in-law moved in with the couple a year later.
The family wanted a boy. Gill’s husband beat and raped her,
insisting it was his right to have a male heir. She worked in her
husband’s grocery store from 7 a.m. till 10 p.m. daily, without pay.
“As an immigrant woman, I didn’t know about the resources
available to me in Canada.” Restrained by the invisible barrier of her
culture, she stayed with her husband.
In 1997, he went to India, leaving her to run the store and look
after her in-laws.
On his return, Gill knew she needed to leave him. She also knew a
divorce would bring shame to her family.
Gill told her parents about the abuse and asked her father to
come to Canada to talk to her in-laws. It was futile; so he tapped
into Edmonton’s Indian community to help his daughter escape
her marriage. The Edmonton Police Service Spousal Violence
Intervention Team (now called the Domestic Offender Crimes
Section) took Gill and her daughter to a women’s shelter.
There, she began to piece her life together. Inspired by her
experiences with the Edmonton Police Service Gill went back to
school and in 2000 she joined the force.
Abuse has several forms:physical, emotional, sexualand financial.
Immigrant women areoften afraid to reportabuse because they’reafraid they will lose theirchildren and their financialsecurity or will have toleave the country.
for information in several
languages on how to stand
up to family violence.
Every hour of every
In some cultures,
day in Alberta, a
woman is a victim of
some form of violence
by an ex-spouse or
including South Asian,
Albertahasthe secondhighestrateof self-reportedspousal violenceinthecountry.