Lefebvre tragedy sheds light on domestic violence
More details are emerging on the relationship between an aggressive husband and fearful wife that ended in his suicide and her hospitalization with critical injuries.
Peter Lefebvre of Stittsville attacked Theresa Lefebvre with a baseball bat on Wednesday then went into the nearby woods and killed himself.
Sources tell CTV Ottawa that Peter was verbally abusive and aggressive towards Theresa, who was afraid to leave. The two were going through a divorce.
They said Peter was dealing with depression and had recently checked himself into the hospital.
Their words paint a different picture than CTV Ottawa viewers saw in 2007, a smiling hockey coach raising money for Theresa's sister after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Theresa's niece Hailey Mooney also said that Peter wasn't abusive.
"He was very kind, he wasn't violent by any means," she said. "What happened on Wednesday wasn't my uncle Peter."
Mooney said Peter's depression is to blame for the attack.
"I don't think he knew what he was doing at the time, I think that mental illness is something that gets put on the back burner and people don't see how serious it is," she said.
"This just goes to show you that somebody who was so kind and loving, so gentle that he would give you the shirt off his back, can do something that is so vcious and so horrible.
"Our family is shocked and torn about what happened."
Womens shelter says abusive behaviour can be hidden
One woman with years of experience in domestic abuse said men are often able to hide abusive behaviour from others.
"His co-workers, his friends, his neighbours may think he's a great guy, but they don't know what's happening behind closed doors," said Martine Dore, who runs women's shelter Chrysalis House.
Dore said 471 woman and 57 children in Ontario have been murdered in domestic attacks since 1990, with most of those attacks not isolated.
"It's very rare that it's a one-time occurrence," she said. "In our experience there is an escalating pattern of abuse."
Chrysalis House and seven similar shelters say attacks like this are getting more violent. Dore said their crisis line got 900 calls last year alone.
"Women often minimize it, they don't listen to their gut," she said. "They may be getting indications that they are in an unsafe situation, and we say if you feel unsafe you probably are unsafe."
Theresa Lefebvre, a former Farm Boy worker, remains in hospital with critical injuries.
A candlelight vigil scheduled for Thursday night was later cancelled as the family is asking for privacy.
If you feel unsafe in your relationship, you can contact the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre or Interval House, among the many other resources available.
With reports from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem and Ellen Mauro
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - RESOURCES FOR WOMEN IN CRISIS