Stopping violence
Alcohol can be a mask

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 06/99) - Some of the grief surrounding the recent death of Fort Good Hope's Caroline Boniface is turning into anger and analysis.

According to women's advocate Arlene Hache, though doctors have determined that Boniface's death was the result of excessive alcohol consumption, the real cause lies much deeper.

"There was violence long before that girl ever ended up in the hospital dead because of alcohol. There was tons of violence before that ever happened," Hache said.

Because police have confirmed that there was an assault complaint involving Boniface on Aug. 13, other women are now speaking out about how rampant violence is in the North and how victims need more support.

Hache said alcohol problems can mask the abuse that is the root cause of dysfunction and people often find it easier to accept that someone is a drunk than that they are routinely abused by people close to them.

Irene Kakfwi who has lived in Fort Good Hope and Inuvik agrees that violence is rampant and accepted in society.

"When I was growing up I saw it as love. Now I know it's not," she said of violence in the home -- something she says she has experienced throughout her 41 years.

"I encourage people to support each other and I tell others that it's wrong for them to be abused."

Kakfwi said one of her past partners used to regularly beat her up for no reason.

"He used to be sober when he beat me up. Once, he beat me up so bad I couldn't recognize myself. I had to leave there."

Kakfwi now calls on more people to speak out about the how common violence is as a way to start the healing.

"On some level everybody in the community is involved," Hache said.

"They see it or hear about it or they do it or it's been done to them so nobody is in a place to react in a healthy way."

She said sometimes the best way to get help is to leave the family or community for a period of time to get a different perspective and learn healthy life skills.