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Hannah Povey, a victim crippled by an abusive relationship, says justice could not have been served at a more fitting time.
Povey, 28, of Stratford, sat in a courtroom in Charlottetown Friday, Dec. 6 as Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline Matheson sentenced the woman’s former partner, William Wesley Gunning, 24, of New London to two years less a day.
Povey welcomed judgment day.
“To finally come to a resolution has been a relief – a huge relief for me,’’ she told The Guardian shortly after the sentence was handed down.
“It has been very empowering to have been able to get my side of the story (out), to kind of add my narrative to this whole situation.’’
And what a perfectly appropriate day, she adds, for Gunning to be held accountable for inflicting tremendous abuse and fear in violent incidents that included choking Povey to the point of her becoming disoriented and Gunning suffocating the woman by pinning her down and covering her mouth and nose.
“I have lost my sense of safety and trust in men I am not familiar with. I have lived in the aftermath for a year now and it’s not getting any easier . . . Will violated the sanctity of our intimate relationship and devastated everything I believe in.’’
-Hannah Povey's victim impact statement
The sentence was delivered on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, which added a special piece of empowerment for Povey.
“I just think that it’s so impactful and powerful that on this day that my abuser was held accountable and hopefully I’ve helped other women in this journey,’’ she says.
Gunning received four-month consecutive sentences on each of two counts of assault, each of two counts of unlawful confinement and on one count of uttering a threat to cause death. He was also handed a sentence of four months less a day for failing to comply with a no-contact order that prohibited him from having any contact with Povey.
Gunning, who was not given any credit for 253 days spent in remand, will be placed on probation for three years upon release from prison.
Povey had submitted a petition to Matheson to have a publication ban lifted that had prevented the publication of any information that would identify her.
She explained to the judge in her petition that she felt “compelled to share my story to advocate for the women enduring intimate partner violence, for the fallen women who had the opportunity to tell their stories forcibly taken from them, for the families who only see a future stained with violence.’’
Ultimately, the petition was not necessary. The publication ban was lifted because the Crown stayed sexual assault charges that had been laid against Gunning.
Povey was still given a forum to speak, and she made good use of it.
She sat calmly before the court to read what Matheson would later describe as a “detailed and moving victim impact statement.’’
Povey, who is now in a healthy relationship and working as a business application specialist with the province, read with increasing emotion from her lengthy statement.
She told the court the abusive relationship transformed her from a naïve, happy-go-lucky woman into a shattered soul.
“I have lost my sense of safety and trust in men I am not familiar with,’’ she says in her statement.
“I have lived in the aftermath for a year now and it’s not getting any easier . . . Will violated the sanctity of our intimate relationship and devastated everything I believe in.’’
Povey adds she lives with PTSD, depression and anxiety symptoms that act as a continued reminder of the “traumatic events’’ she endured in the abusive relationship.
“My sense of safety, my naivety and my identity have all been taken away from me,’’ she told the court.
Still, she notes being able to have her voice heard and seeing justice served Friday was a big step in healing and moving forward.
“I feel validated, I feel heard,’’ she says.
“It’s been very helpful for me.’’