Ian and Janet Rhodes are creating a nonprofit for survivors of domestic violence. 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. Janet was in a car with friends driving around... Read More
Ian and Janet Rhodes are creating a nonprofit for survivors of domestic violence. 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. Janet was in a car with friends driving around her hometown of Kindersley Saskatchewan.
They were just killing time like teenagers do, driving up and down Main Street. Suddenly, Janet’s friend, Ang, leaned out the passenger front window and called out to a boy walking down Main Street. The driver of the car pulled over and Ang told him to climb into the back of the car where Janet was seated. He looked at Janet and she looked at him. After saying hello, the boy had trouble speaking. His tongue felt heavy and thick. He started to sweat. He wanted to kiss this girl. Janet felt the same way.
They both shared their names and Janet tried to find out what she could about this cute boy. Ian answered her questions, stumbling over his responses; she was the most beautiful girl he had seen. He knew at that moment he would marry her one day.
“So, do you have a girlfriend?” Janet asked. She hoped not, but her heart sank when he said he had a girl friend from camp that he wrote letters. Janet's hopes dashed. She knew he was special. She knew she wanted to date Ian. They parted that night without a kiss, but a special spark was lit.
Although they went to different schools, a month later they met again at Janet’s high school, where their school bands were putting on a concert. In between performances, Ian found Janet and nervously asked her on a date.
“Oh, my goodness!” Janet thought. She was far too nervous to say yes and instead told Ian she would give him an answer after the concert. So, Janet went and joined her band on stage and nervously told her friend that Ian had asked her out. She was so nervous as she performed, while watching Ian from the corner of her eye.
“What are you going to say?’ her friend asked. “I think I will say yes!” said Janet.
After the concert, Janet found Ian and, with her heart pounding, told him that she would go on a date with him. Ian fell against the school lockers with happiness.
Ian and Janet 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 college. 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-month 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.
Janet was working for a telecommunications company. One day she met with her manager and told him that she needed to seek counseling. Her husband could not know. Her manager helped Janet get counselling during work hours. 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. Janet had heard that his marriage had ended, and she remembered that he had told her if she ever needed him, he would be there for her. So, one night when Janet’s husband was out, she nervously phoned Ian’s mother. Janet 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 also 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.
Janet knew her life was about to change. What would be seeing Ian again be like? Had he aged? Did he look the same? How would she feel to be physically near him again? Janet was nervous. She took a deep breath, walked out of work and saw Ian coming up the sidewalk. When they said hello and hugged, Ian lifted Janet off the ground. They both were at peace. They were home.
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. While he stayed there, Janet kept finding him in their younger daughter’s room in only his underwear. He was also openly watching pornography.
One morning after finding him again in her bed, she stood up to him and told him, “No more!” Everything in her told her that he did not belong. Her husband yelled back. He said he needed his children to be happy, but Janet was firm in her decision.
The next morning, he raped Janet in their 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 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, if they choose. Janet also has 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.
In 2013, Janet left her 15-year career at the telecommunications company and was put on long-term disability. She has been rebuilding ever since. She blogs and maintains a Facebook site, dubbed "Freedom Within: My Journey through Domestic Violence & PTSD (facebook.com/fw.dvptsd)," to share her story with more than 9,000 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 wants to extend her outreach. Saskatchewan, the province where she lives, 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. As a result, Janet is establishing a nonprofit support group for survivors of domestic abuse. She believes this support and education can help survivors gain their freedom.
Janet has returned to school, where she is enrolled in psychology/social work courses. She is also speaking publicly about the effects of domestic violence on the family and trauma for survivors.
Through this journey, Ian has been Janet’s rock. He has been by her side through every court battle, has loved her children like they are his own and has been with Janet through every bad PTSD episode.
In October 2017, Janet and Ian were married before family and friends. They are now ready for the next stage of their life; read to help abused women in a new way. Ian is in full support of Janet’s aspirations. They want to offer abused women and their children a safe place to heal. Janet has reestablished her love for horses and has purchased a young mare. She has found therapy and peace around the horse. She wants to offer equine therapy to other survivors. Janet and Ian dream about opening a farm or ranch where they can offer a place of peace and tranquility to survivors of domestic abuse. Here, with the help of horses, they can safely heal while receiving support and guidance.
Domestic violence 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 so they can take advantage of equine therapy amidst the peace of country life.
After years of abuse, Janet craved silence and peace. She and Ian want their ranch to be that type of place for survivors no matter how long they stay. Janet plans to offer one-on-one counselling and mentoring sessions as well as group therapy to help survivors heal.
Janet and Ian are 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 expediate this project. They cannot do this alone. The ranch is up for sale and many offers are pending. It is an ideal location, near a lake on 30 acres of trees and grass, for Rhodes to Wellness Foundation.
Janet and Ian have been toying with Rhodes to Wellness Foundation for many years. They have been sharing the idea with professionals and have established a large list of contacts and personnel. To fully utilize the amazing people of the prairies who are, by nature, resilient and hard working all that is needed now is capital. We all live in a land of extremes and have become very good at rebuilding what no one else would have even tried.
Please help them realize this dream. Thank you.
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raised in 19 days from 13 people
Janet Rhodes, Mrs. Janet Rhodes
on behalf of
Survivors of Domestic Violence
Ian and Janet Rhodes need help to build a ranch for domestic violence survivors under their nonprofit "Rhodes to Wellness Foundation". The ranch will be a place where survivors can heal in peace, and receive one-on-one therapy, equine therapy, mentorship and group counselling services. Ian and Janet Rhodes need help to build a ranch for domestic violence survivors. The ranch will be a place where survivors can detox in peace, and receive equine therapy, mentorship and group counselling services under Janet's "Rhodes to Wellness Foundation."
Danya Wasylenchuk 14 days ago
Owen McManus 16 days ago
I deeply hope that helping people brings both them, and yourselves the peace and healing you deserve.
Laine Kuntz 18 days ago
Love you both ❤
Chris Dowdeswell 19 days ago
May God bless your kind hearts and good works!
Anonymous 19 days ago
For those already lost.
Connor McManus 19 days ago
Good luck reaching your goal!
Deleena Lowry 19 days ago
Ryan Baehl 20 days ago
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.
Bethany Lowry 20 days ago
Anonymous 20 days ago
This is so needed. All I can spare. Bless you Janet.
Ian Rhodes 20 days ago
I believe in you and in what you are doing. I will help you build this. One cabin at a time.
Anonymous 20 days ago
Thank You for caring about all of us.
Anonymous 20 days ago
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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