By Jenn Watt
Sept. 20 2016
Five days after last year’s Take Back the Night walk against sexual and domestic violence the region was shocked by a triple murder in Wilno about an hour and a half northeast of Haliburton.
Basil Borutski was arrested and charged with killing three women he had relationships with: Nathalie Warmerdam Anastasia Kuzyk and Carol Culleton.
The ink had barely dried on the newspapers urging the community to be aware of violence against women and supportive of those who come forward when these horrific murders took place.
In a follow up to their documentary on the killings called Why Didn’t We Know? the Fifth Estate’s Gillian Findlay went over their coverage of the crime which she noted got very little media attention outside of the Barry’s Bay/Pembroke area. She also said that the community did know about Borutski’s record with the women including jail time for assaulting Kuzyk (he was sentenced to 17 months but only served five of them according to CBC).
“So much of the answer is we did know we just didn’t do anything” Findlay says in the podcast Secrets of the Fifth Estate. “People did know. The police knew. There was a court record. Judges knew.
His probation officers knew. Neighbours knew. Former wives and girlfriends knew. People knew.”
As to why this gruesome and eye opening triple murder hasn’t grabbed the public consciousness like other high profile cases of violence against women the answer could be the nature of domestic violence.
Lisa Clarke community engagement and project manager for the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre says people still see abuse in relationships as a private matter.
“There’s a stigma in speaking out against relationship violence” she told the paper. “It continues to be stigmatized and privatized…. Also the types of violence make it into the news [are] more titillating types of violence. Relationship violence continues to be silenced and kept within the family.”
There are bystanders who see this violence Clarke says and she wants to see more people trained on how to react when they see domestic violence.
Among the five things you should say if given the trust of a victim:
Thank you for trusting me.
I’m so sorry this has happened.
I believe you.
How can I help you right now?
You’re not alone. We can connect you with people who can help.
KSAC can be contacted at 1-866-298-7778 or online at Kawarthasexualassaultcentre.com.
Outside of supporting the victim the Borutski case gives us a chilling glimpse of how many warning signs can flash in front of our eyes without any meaningful action by the justice system. Why Didn’t We Know? could more justly have been called Why Didn’t We Do Anything?
Those murders happened in another community but violence against women doesn’t respect any geographic boundaries. We need to support the efforts of KSAC and other local groups working to stop violence and help victims.
Come out on Thursday to show your support. Take Back the Night is at the high school track at 7 p.m. – all (men women children allies survivors) are welcome.