Ian and Janet Rhodes are creating a nonprofit for survivors of domestic abuse. All funds will remain under the nonprofit. Ian and Janet first met on a warm summer evening when he was 15 and she was 16 years old. They dated on and off during their turbulent teen ... Read More
Ian and Janet Rhodes are creating a nonprofit for survivors of domestic abuse. All funds will remain under the nonprofit.
Ian and Janet first met on a warm summer evening when he was 15 and she was 16 years old. They dated on and off during their turbulent teen years. Both Janet and Ian had obstacles to overcome. Janet had already been a victim of teen rape, an assault she would not share with Ian. Mixed signals strained the relationships -- love for one moment and distance the next. Even after they broke up, Janet and Ian proclaimed they would be there for each other.
After graduation, Janet moved to Saskatoon to attend University. Ian soon followed. They tried dating other people, but always reverted to each other. Ian insisted they be together. Janet finally told him about the rape she endured as a teenager. In their early 20s, they moved in together and planned to get married. Their future looked bright.
Unfortunately, their wedding never took place. Ian and Janet broke up three months before the scheduled wedding. The split was difficult. They did not talk to each other for the next 15 years. Even though they both later admitted they often thought of each other, both married other spouses. But, those marriages eventually fell apart.
Janet’s husband had a very dark side that she hid from family and friends. Over a 15 year period, Janet was physically, psychologically, emotionally, verbally, sexually and financially abused. She lived each year hoping the next would be better. She believed if she said or did the right thing, everything would be ok. Soon, she realized the abuse was affecting their three children. She knew she had to find a safe way to leave with her children. But, like so many women caught in abusive cycles, Janet did not know how to leave safely. Her husband was a dangerous man.
Through counselling, Janet learned that abusive relationships are all about one person wanting power and control over another. She began to understand her husband's control was based on her fear and his intimidation. She learned that one of three women will suffer abuse at the hands of their partner. She also learned that the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the woman is planning to leave. At this time, or right after the relationship has ended, the abuser is most threatened to lose control of the victim. Abuse often escalates, and many women are killed by their partner. Janet was terrified that this would happen to her.
Janet recognized she needed support and started to share about her abuse with family and friends. She also realized that she needed a male presence to keep her safe. She thought of Ian and remembered how they said they would always be there for eachother. Janet had heard that his marriage had ended so, one night when Janet’s husband was out, she nervously phoned Ian’s mother and got her son's phone number.
Janet took a deep breath and dialed. Would Ian talk to her? More importantly would he give her the help she so desperately sought?
Ian answered. Janet asked him if he knew who was calling. He said he did and asked, “Baby what is wrong?” Hearing Ian call her "baby" broke the dam Janet had built around her pain. She burst into tears and in between sobs told Ian how her husband would hit her and her children, throw her up against walls and scream at her endlessly. She told him she needed help. But, they couldn’t talk long. Janet knew her husband would be home soon. So, they agreed that Janet would email Ian from work every day to let him know that she was ok while they worked on a plan for her escape.
Janet continued counseling and learned she needed to stand up to her husband, to tell him to stop and to set boundaries around his behavior. She let him know what she would not tolerate. Janet was no longer silent, but the more she confronted her husband, the more dangerous he became. He screamed that he would never stop abusing her. Many times, Janet tried to kick her husband out, but he would leave for only a short time. Janet was stuck.
During this time. Ian moved from Kindersley to Saskatoon to be close to Janet. They continued to email, but still had not met face-to-face. Then one day Ian suggested a meeting during Janet’s lunch break. She agreed.
Ian and Janet walked to a nearby park. Ian noticed how thin Janet looked. Her cheeks were hallowed, and her skin was pale. She was in worse shape than he had originally imagined. As they walked, Ian found out how Janet was struggling to eat. The stress of her marriage had taken her appetite. They agreed that Ian would bring her lunch every day and they could spend that time just relaxing. This way Janet could vent. Ian became Janet’s lifeline.
In the year that followed, Janet tried many times to end her marriage. Shortly after Christmas, in 2009, Janet reached her breaking point. Her husband called their toddler “asshole” instead of his name, and physically abused the boy throughout Christmas. Janet kicked her husband out of their bedroom. He would not leave the house, but he did move his things to the family room where he slept.
During this time Janet's husband started to rape her in their former marriage bed. He called her a whore, a slut and an idiot. In that moment Janet broke. Mentally, she moved to a place where she could survive. To the outside world she was still a mother, still an employee and still a wife. To cope, she acted as if the rape had never happened.
But it did. Over and over.
Janet’s weight continued to drop. She was down to 108 pounds and her hair was falling out in clumps. She begged for her husband to stop, telling him that he was slowly killing her. He looked at her and said, “I know.”
One night, Janet confronted her husband about the rapes. He was calmly washing dishes in the kitchen and, without remorse, said he knew exactly what he was doing to her, that he was raping her and that he was hurting her. Janet then truly saw the monster he was, and she started to scream that their relationships was over. He begged her not to end the marriage, but she just kept screaming, “It is over!” Janet took down every wedding photo in the house and threw them in a closet, but her husband refused to leave.
The next day Janet texted him from work. She told her husband to clear out of the house by that evening or she would have the RCMP remove him. He was gone when she got home.
Janet’s husband was arrested twice during their marriage. Once when he assaulted both her and their son. He pled guilty to the charge. Another arrest was for continued sexual assault against Janet. This charge went to trial and, in 2015, he was found not guilty for lack of evidence. Like so many other sexual assaults, the case came down to “he said, she said.”
In 2017, Janet was finally granted a divorce. The precedent-setting judgement granted Janet sole custody of their children. Her former husband cannot have access to the children until they are 25, and only if they choose. Janet was also given a lifetime restraining order against him.
“This is a disturbing case of violence against a woman and her children occurring over the course of a 13-year relationship. The three children of the relationship witnessed their mother being physically assaulted and humiliated by their father. The youngest child was subjected to physical abuse starting at 16 months. The father desires access with the children. He will have no access.”
The seven-year legal battle was long and draining. During this time, Ian divorced his wife. Ian and Janet moved in together. They were happy to be together again, but Janet was struggling with mental health issues. She could not sleep at night. She had nightmares. Her daytime was full of flashbacks and tears. Janet was terrified to leave her home and was put on disability from work. In 2011, she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and began therapy and medication. Her younger daughter, who was six at the time, was also diagnosed with PTSD that year. She, too, suffered nightmares, disassociation, peed in garbage cans and was suicidal. Her oldest daughter was diagnosed with PTSD, in 2016. There were many trips to psychiatrists for both Janet and her daughters. The entire family received many hours of counseling. 10% of all abused women will be diagnosed with PTSD.
In 2013, Janet left her 15-year career in the Corporate world and was put on long-term disability. She has been rebuilding ever since. She blogs and maintains a Facebook site, dubbed "Freedom Within: Recovery from Domestic Abuse & PTSD (facebook.com/fw.dvptsd)," to share her story with more than 12,000 followers.
Janet is now writing a book about the traumatic effects on the survivors of domestic violence. She has learned that one in nine women survivors of domestic abuse will be diagnosed with PTSD. Janet has also been operating secret support groups on Facebook for abused women, where she offers counsel, guidance and support. The groups allow other abused women to know that they are not alone. Janet also began to mentor abused women at Verbal Abuse Journals (verbalabusejournals.com) where she supervises the free program that connects survivors of domestic abuse to online support and guidance.
Janet and Ian want to give back and offer more outreach. Saskatchewan, the province where they live, has reported the highest number of domestic violence cases in Canada. Maple Creek, where Janet and Ian live, is a beautiful rustic town, but the nearest support for survivors is an hour away. Local mental health departments are overtaxed and support long waiting lists.
Janet and Ian both recognize the challenge of an inadequate support system. Abused women may not have access to a vehicle to get to the nearest shelter or be able to safely seek help. Janet and Ian both believe that support and education can help survivors become empowered and gain their freedom.
Janet and Ian have returned to school where they are studying to be Life Coaches, and will be licensed through ICF, and as Counselors through Rhodes Wellness College out of Vancouver, BC. Janet has also been studying the effects of trauma on adults and children and she has been speaking publicly about the effects of domestic violence on the family and trauma for survivors.
In October 2017, Janet and Ian were finally married before family and friends. They are now ready for the next stage of their life; ready to help abused women in a new way. They want to offer abused women and their children a safe place to heal in the form of a ranch. Janet has reestablished her love for horses and has purchased a young mare. She has found therapy and peace around the horse. Why are horses the way to go? When a person becomes traumatized they become disconnected from themselves. Through equine therapy, through the horse, there can be a re connection. According to Dr. Laurie Sullivan-Sakeada, a Utah based Clinical Psychologist and leading practitioner of EAP, horses are prey animals, and, like those who have been abused , they rely on their heightened senses for survival. They react to and mirror the emotions of visitors directly, without words. Horses respond negatively to negative emotions. They respond positively to positive emotions, and they have no ulterior motives.
“They are just there,” says Sakeada, “providing non-verbal feedback.” The horses are therapeutic and interactive tools that speed up the therapy process substantially. Dr. Sakeada notes that one session of EAP in the barn is equal to five sessions “on the couch.”
At the Ranch Janet and Ian also plan to offer equine therapy, one on one therapies, group therapies and gardening as ways to reconnect with oneself and heal.
Domestic abuse costs Canadians more than $7 billion each year. Costs cover police, ambulance services, hospital stays, time missed from work and much more. Domestic violence is an epidemic that has gripped our society for too long and has overtaxed hospitals, court houses and police stations.
Janet and Ian understand a survivor's struggle first-hand. Survivors face so many hurdles. Many are financially abused, have little to no support system, and are struggling with mental health issues from their abuse. Many just need a place where they can be safe and begin to heal. Ian and Janet want their ranch to offer this type of environment. Janet and Ian, plan to live at the ranch year-round, and build cabins for survivors to stay with their children, if needed, so they can take advantage of equine therapy amidst the peace of country life.
Rhodes to Wellness Foundation has been a work in progress for many years. Janet and Ian have been sharing the idea with professionals and have established a large list of contacts and personnel and are now reaching out for the funds to purchase and operate the ranch. Funds will cover education and therapy as well as workshops and construction of the cabins and additional features. Any support would greatly expedite this project. They cannot do this alone.
Please help them realize this dream. Thank you.
Posted By Janet Rhodes
March 12, 2018
Received a $20 donation in the mail from Leona Leeks. Thank you!
raised from 15 people
Rhodes to Wellness
Ian and Janet Rhodes are raising money to purchase and establish a ranch for domestic abuse survivors through their nonprofit "Rhodes to Wellness Foundation." They plan to provide a place of peace and tranquility with various therapies to help survivor
I deeply hope that helping people brings both them, and yourselves the peace and healing you deserve.
Love you both ❤
May God bless your kind hearts and good works!
For those already lost.
Good luck reaching your goal!
I was in the garage smoking a $25 cigar when I received this message. And I have to say that this feels better to do this. I am using an iPad and my auto complete wasn’t working so I filled out the form the slow way. I guess I’ll find out if this works in a while.
This is so needed. All I can spare. Bless you Janet.
I believe in you and in what you are doing. I will help you build this. One cabin at a time.
Thank You for caring about all of us.
This is a worthwhile endeavor. We know you have this. Thank you for all you have done so far. God Bless You.
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