Experiences of Victims of Mentally Ill Offenders in Canada

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  1. Introduction
  2. Mental illness and the Criminal Code of Canada
  3. Common reactions from victims
  4. For victims: taking care of yourself
  5. Dealing with grief & trauma
  6. What happens to the accused person?
  7. Victims’ rights in the forensic mental health system
  8. Where can victims get more information & support?
  9. Contact information for provincial/territorial Review Boards
  10. Explanation of terms
  11. Evaluate this e-resource

DISCLAIMER: This e-resource is intended as a general guide for people who may be harmed by crime committed by someone who is mentally ill. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you require clarification, or for a referral to an agency in your community that may be able to provide support services to you. We encourage all victims to discuss the information provided in this paper with the Crown prosecutor in their case or victim services, prior to undertaking any action.

CONTENT WARNING: There are several personal stories included throughout this document. These stories may contain information or details that some readers may find disturbing, or even traumatizing.

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

My name is Donna McCully.

It was always our wish to live in Jamaica in our dream home. So, in August 2012, my husband Sedrick Levine and I left Canada to move into our new home. We were thrilled to finally be starting the next chapter in our lives, in Sedrick’s beloved homeland. He bought a little bus and planned to operate tours for visitors to the island. I was helping him run this business venture, as part of our semi- retirement in Jamaica.

My life as I knew it was suddenly shattered when two masked men broke into our home on Sunday, November 17, 2013. Sedrick struggled with the men, allowing me to flee upstairs to call the police. His actions saved my life that day, and that of my father and his housekeeper, who were visiting us at the time. One of the masked intruders chased me upstairs and kicked in the bathroom door, but he stopped when he heard a gunshot from downstairs.

My husband Sedrick was killed that day and the men fled our home with a laptop. The Jamaican police have not yet found these men or charged them with killing my beloved husband. Their motive remains unknown.

This crime has completely changed my life. I suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder now and have depression as a result. I came back to Canada, but I feel very isolated since this happened. These emotional scars may never heal.

I managed to find the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime by searching online one day. I didn’t know where to turn for help when I came home to Canada. The CRCVC has provided me with a lot of emotional support, which has been tremendously helpful. They’ve also written numerous letters to Jamaican officials seeking justice for Sedrick, as well as intervening with Canadian officials on my behalf. The office also helped connect me to a trauma therapist for counselling sessions too.

In order to try and make sense of what happened to Sedrick, it is my hope that others could support the work of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. There are so many other victims/survivors out there who also need their assistance.