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My Thoughts on Russell Williams, God, and my Hometown
Belleville heron
The Belleville, Ontario waterfront

Last Monday I was in Toronto, in World Vision headquarters for some speaker training, and looked up at the television set to see my hometown.

There was the Pinnacle Street courthouse, across the street from the library where my children usually were that time on a Monday, hanging out while waiting for their music lessons. I had called them that morning and told them it may be wise to avoid the library that day, because worldwide media was parked on the doorstep.

It was the trial for Russell Williams, the former commander of the Trenton air base, Canada's largest military base, charged with two counts of first degree murder, two sexual assaults, and numerous other perversions.

His name will forever be linked in Canadian history with Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olson. He is despicable.

This case really rocked us because it happened so close to us. Our church is also filled with military personnel from the Trenton base who were so thrown by the revelations. But Jessica Lloyd, his last victim, lived next door to my former sister-in-law, who at the time lived alone with her teenage daughter. It was only a few kilometers from my house, and I drive by their several times a week.

Jessica's disappearance affected everybody. She went missing in the morning; by that afternoon, posters were already up all over Belleville announcing she was missing. I've never seen such a well-organized campaign.

And the police were brilliant. I have many friends who are police officers, and while they can't disclose everything, I know they worked tirelessly and diligently and it was good old-fashioned police work that caught Williams.

I'm glad the trial is over, and I hope that our little town can get back to normal soon. But there are two things I will continue to think about, once I have pushed the perversions and gross revelations out of my mind.

1. It is just dangerous for women to live alone, especially young women.

That's not fair. I'm sure I'll get tons of comments bad-mouthing me for stating the obvious, just as I received comments on my other posts talking about how women should try to protect ourselves from assault, but it's the truth.

Yes, women should be able to live however they want and wherever they want. But Russell Williams deliberately targeted women who lived alone. Jessica lived just off of a highway he used to commute, and he noticed her, by herself.

I am not blaming Jessica. It was not her fault. I have lived alone, too, and I know many women in their twenties don't have a choice. But this case has changed me. I will not let my girls live alone, as long as I have power over that decision. I will encourage them to have roommates, and if they do need to live in an apartment, I will make sure it is at least on the third floor.

Would I have been this careful before this case? No, I wouldn't. But in the same way that the Paul Bernardo case has made me lecture the girls about stepping near a car to give directions, even if it's a woman who's asking (it was Karla, looking lost and holding a map, who grabbed Kristen French), Jessica has made me determined never to let my girls live alone, if I can help it.
It will never totally protect them, but I do believe that there are evil people who deliberately look for single women. I don't want my girls to be one of them.

2. I was really saddened to read the victim impact statements by Jessica Lloyd's family. Over and over again they said a variation of "I don't know how God could create such evil, and I will never believe in a god again."

I completely understand that sentiment, and with the way Jessica Lloyd was tortured, I think it would be hard to feel any other way.

I just don't think it's helpful. It's really quite sad, because you're turning away from God, the one person who could offer real healing in this absolutely atrocious situation. How can you ever have peace on this side of heaven after a loved one was killed so horrifically, unless you get that peace supernaturally, from God? By turning their backs on Him, I'm afraid that they're turning from real help.

I believe God will still be reaching out for them now; how could He not? But there is this misconception that it was God who created that evil. No, He didn't. He created Russell Williams, but Williams made the choice to ignore God and to let evil grow inside him. Williams doesn't represent a creation of God as much as he does a rejection of God. If Williams' victims now turn from God because of what Williams did, then doesn't evil ultimately win? To turn to God--the antithesis of Williams--is to turn away from Williams, to punish him most effectively. To turn away from God is to reject the good that Jessica was, and that God offers to them now.

They are hurting so badly, and there is so little our community can do to help. I pray that all the family members will be able to catch a bit of sleep soon, and that their dreams will be peaceful and quiet. I pray that they may one day remember with laughter, and not just with tears. And I pray that those who do know them can reach out and help, instead of being so overwhelmed that they don't know what to say.

But most of all, I pray that they will run to God, even if it's in desperation. God didn't abandon Jessica Lloyd; Russell Williams abandoned God, and that had horrific consequences. I hope his evil deeds don't cause others to abandon God, too, and live in hopelessness, alone.

What a sad, sad week for our community. If you followed the news at all, will you say a prayer for the Lloyd and Comeau families? They will need it so badly in the days and weeks and years to come.



At 9:36 AM , OpenID storygal said…

A touching commentary on the situation, Sheila.
I could not bring myself to read the whole pieces that the paper wrote.


At 9:36 AM , OpenID storygal said…

A touching commentary on the situation, Sheila.
I could not bring myself to read the whole pieces that the paper wrote.


At 10:27 AM , Blogger A'ine said…

While I understand where your heart & sentiment are concerning the topic of women/young women living alone being dangerous, I wonder if perhaps this is a reaction made now, while this is still "hot?" Russell Williams, and cons of his ilk, are not the majority...these things do not happen all the time, every day, and to live in fear and have one's life dictated by an event that is an aberration, I think is giving too much power to men like him.
I understand the concern with young women not living alone, and that age is one where quite often young women will share an apartment or home for awhile while in university/college, etc. ...there will always be situations and circumstances where young women will live alone. However, my Mom is a widow...she was widowed when I was 6 and my brother 2. She now lives alone, as my brother and I are now living independent adult lives. I know other women like her. Fortunately, she lives on a good street with neighbours who look out for each other, and not in an isolated area of her city. I'm not about to call her up and tell her she shouldn't be living alone, nor am I going to sit and worry constantly about her because she is living by herself.
I think with the way our society is now, to go back to the days where women didn't live on their own, ever, is going to be difficult if not impossible. What I think this whole sordid affair highlights for me is to a) teach my kids street-smarts, b)watch out for my neighbours ("Who are the people in your neighbourhood...") and get to know people c) look out for and keep in touch with folks, ANYONE, living on their own (there are seniors living on their own who need someone just to touch base with them, let alone single men or women). That's my personal view...and no, I'm not villifying you or "judging" you for having a view different than mine! :)


At 10:39 AM , Blogger Tessa said…

I really like the thought that turning to God is turning away from the evil in Williams. And that turning away from God is turning directly to evil. I never thought about it that way.
And as for the living alone, my parents never let me stay out and drive home as late as my brother. Because I was a young girl and an easy target if anything happened (like my car broke down on the highway). I always thought it was unfair that my brother got to stay out later but it still always made sense to me why Mom would say that. I personally wouldn't beel comfortable living alone. We had a duck (yes a duck!) in our basement bathroom one night and it made such a ruckas (my cat was trying ot pin it) that we thought someone was in our house. I poked my hubby and he checked it out while I sat with the baby wand waited. I'm so blessed that I have a husband who can hope out of bed and make sure there's no danger in our house.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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