By Sally Smith
“He was gonna kill me and I was gonna be with my son. That’s what he kept saying. Everyone heard him…” Caroline Taylor cried, unable to catch her breath. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
Recounting the night of April 1, 2016 was gut-wrenching. It tore her apart. And it was a horrible day — one that’s changed her for the rest of her life.
The man she’d been living with for nine months and known for a year turned on her. He smashed her face with his fists, drove her head into cement steps, bruised her, doused her with gas, and lit a match.
Taylor, with failing strength, managed to get away, but her beloved service dog, Toby, was burned to death. The attack, according to Taylor, was well planned; he’d cleaned out his bank account that day and his intent was to kill her.
After several months of rehabilitation and physical healing, Taylor is trying to move on. She’ll never forget the day — forgetting is hard to do — but she’s looking forward to a brighter future, one with hope and maybe, another partner. One in which she can have a peaceful night’s sleep.
But next time, 55-year-old Taylor will be less trusting, more wary, and she’ll watch for signs now that she knows what some of them are.
The horror of the day is inextricably wound up with her message; giving tips to other women (and men) immediately brings back memories. But she wants to say something, and in the saying, she hopes to start healing.
- Watch out for men with “verbal diarrhea” when they drink.
- Watch out for men who want you by their side constantly and intimately. Men who want obsessive control.
- Watch out for irrational jealousy.
- Watch out for unexplainable depression.
- Does he hit you and then apologize profusely? This shouldn’t happen.
- Has he raped you? This, too, should never happen.
- Find out what you can about the man before moving ahead with a relationship and believe it.
And she has some strong advice for women (and men) embarking on a relationship:
- Have a safety word. Tell it to a family member or a best friend; if you say it, they’ll know you’re in trouble.
- Keep your cell phone with you at all times.
- Get your own insurance.
Today, Taylor lives with chronic pain and PTSD but is seeking help for both and is trying to get her life back on track. After the attack, the trailer where she lived was emptied and she was left with nothing, but she still has expenses. She has a new service dog named Charlie, a seven-month-old Bichon Frise Poodle mix who’s white and fluffy and full of energy. She has to feed him and herself, she needs winter clothing, and most of all, Taylor needs a place to live. She’s hoping she and her youngest son (her middle son was killed in an ATV accident) will be able to find a house soon.
A trust fund has been set up at the Toronto Dominion Canada Trust in Smiths Falls to help Taylor get back on her feet. Those wanting to help can make donations using transit # 36762 and account # 6316865.
Taylor’s story is visceral and, unfortunately, not new. If her story is too familiar to you, or someone you know, reach out for help. Here’s a list of local services.
Victim Services Lanark County
Lanark County Interval House
24-Hour Crisis Line: 1-800-267-7946 or (613) 257-5960 or TTY: (613) 257-1952
Lanark County Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Program
613-283-2330 ext. 1258
Distress Centres of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville (distress line)
1-800-465-4442 (5 p.m. to midnight daily)
The Assault Response & Care Centre
Photo (main image) by Sally Smith: Caroline Taylor and her new service dog Charlie.