“We were very poor, on welfare. My father would eat a steak, while we ate bread and butter. And somehow Glenda had managed to get a scrapbook together of the Bay City Rollers. That was her favourite group. And she probably had denied him one night and he burned the scrapbook in front of her. I remember Glenda at the bottom of a closet pulling her hair out, screaming and crying. She was probably about 12. And I think probably that was the breaking point for her. And he took pleasure in it.” ~ Marlene Doughty, Survivor
A few memories of being cuddled up, colouring together in a Precious Moments book, and a line-up of dried out, colourful nail polish bottles along with a handful of fading photographs were Caceila Doughty Trahan’s closest connections to her mother, Glenda Doughty.
Living in Sault Ste. Marie, Caceila was 8 years old when she last saw her mother. Glenda had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and though she could no longer parent her daughter, she was proud of the fine job that her former husband was doing with their little girl. “Everybody told my dad he was doing a great job. And he was,” shared Caceila.
“My mom had a distorted sense of time because of her illness,” recalled Caceila. “Sometimes she would buy me underwear that was much too big- they were for an adult, but she was trying to be a good mom by buying me underwear. She always expressed her love for me.”
Glenda also did her best to protect Caceila drilling an odd mantra into the little girl’s memory that she repeats by rote, like a times table, today. “You could tell she was trying to save me before there was anything to save me from. She use to tell me, ‘Caceila, if anyone hurts you or ever touches you, you make sure you call the police right away and tell them ‘restraining order, no contact order’. I was like 3, 4, 5, 6 years old when she was telling me this.”
“She left in May, before Mother’s Day. I had made her a Mother’s Day card and I was really happy with it because I was having a hard time identifying with her as being my mother because of her illness …so I was really fighting for that connection.” Caceila is quietly weeping.
“I remember having the card ready and nobody told me that she had left. She left at the end of April with her disability cheque. She got on a bus and went west. She was staying in some kind of assisted living- to my knowledge, I was just a child. And then she ended up moving in with her brother who was in B.C.”
Having a fear of electronics, Glenda called only occasionally but sent a steady flow of letters and small gifts to her daughter. And then when Caceila was 11 years old, the letters from her mother suddenly stopped. Letters she mailed to her mother were sent back ‘return to sender’.
She had lost contact with her uncle and 11 year old Caceila was powerless to seek out her mother.
Gone from her life, missing for eight years, Caceila now a young woman of 18 years old, began pursuing her mother’s ghost. Where did Glenda go?
In 2009, Caceila was able to reconnect with mother’s brother –the last person to have seen her. He told her Glenda’s illness was just too much for him to handle and he claimed to have dropped off Glenda at Vancouver Mental Health Services in 2002. Caceila persisted for six years, begging her uncle for contact information for her mother. Having never received it, and unable to find anyone who could provide her with information about her mother, Caceila reached out to an aunt she had never met- Marlene, Glenda’s youngest sister.
On October 20th, 2015, fourteen years since Caceila who was now 23 years old, had last heard from her mother, Marlene initiated contact with local authorities in Sault Ste. Marie and filed a missing persons report.
Glenda was born in 1964 to Elsie Kowalyk and Joseph John Doughty in Prince George, British Columbia. She was the fourth of six children born to the pair and one of four girls. Both of Glenda’s brothers were older than her and she had one older sister.
Glenda’s childhood, as was her siblings, was a living nightmare.
Reports from social workers and the Children’s Aid Society detail accounts of numerous complaints filed which cite concerns for the wellbeing of Glenda and her brothers and sisters. But more so, it is the stories shared by Glenda’s older brother, Derrick, and the baby in the family, Marlene, that attest to the terrifying conditions in which the Doughty children survived.
“It was a lifetime of abuse, no childhood whatsoever. You’re just trying to survive every day. You grow up and it’s part of you. It’s part of who you are, it’s the fear they put in to you- its’ never left me. I think about it every single day. I try not to but I do.” Marlene is on the other end of the phone in southern Ontario. She has a smooth voice that occasionally slides into a tremble as she recounts the abuses she suffered as a child.
“I was the baby and everyone protected me. They all stuck up for me. They all took it for me. Each and every one. My brothers took a punch or a beating from my dad when he was angry. It was my sisters who protected me by satisfying my father before he could get to me.”
Despite the valiant efforts of the older Doughty children, Marlene was not spared from sexual interference in the home, let alone witnessing the horrors experienced by her brothers and sisters.
A report filed by a social worker from an interview quotes then 11 year old Marlene saying, I was hiding around the corner and saw dad having sex with Glenda on the mattress. Saw him throw Glenda down on the mattress.
Marlene was routinely molested by her father and she recalls her father forcing her to pleasure two men when she was 6 years old. She also recalls being penetrated by her eldest brother who was 8 years older than her. “I remember looking at him and saying ‘why can’t we just kiss’ and him saying ‘shut up’.”
Derrick recalls that his father –who he prefers to refer to as his ‘sperm donor’, forced the children into sexual behaviour with each other. “If we said ‘no’, we got a beating.”
It is documented that in March 1969, the eldest sister made a complaint with the authorities that “her father was having sexual relations with her and that her brothers and sisters indulge in sex play.”
Derrick is 6 years older than Marlene and his memories are detailed, graphic. Though his voice never wavers, tears roll down his cheeks as he conjures, for the telling, one chilling scene in his life after another –viscous beatings, cruel emotional abuse and perverse sexual acts are the vibrant colours of his boyhood.
“He would bring us all to the dump. We knew things were going to happen at the dump. He’d take us to get fucked up the ass or to get a cock in our mouth or to give him and his friends a hand job. His guy friends, his girl friends, they’d all meet there and if we said ‘no’ they could kill us and leave us in the dump.”
Yet another case report reveals even more horrific details about the Doughty children’s home life. The father was involved in satanic practices and the father also involved his children in his bizzare life style, notes the social worker. The information is provided by Marlene. Her claim is corroborated by an unidentified sibling and the social worker notes, the sibling described more detailed and extreme forms of abuse including satanic rituals, animal killings and so forth.
This was the way life for the Doughty children, every day.
Elsie, their biological mother, fled in 1970 when Marlene was 2 yrs., Glenda -6 yrs. and Derrick – 8 yrs. As the Doughty children recall it, Joseph ordered her out of the house, promising that if she returned that he would kill all of the children. Elsie ran to Sault Ste. Marie never to see her children again until they reached adulthood.
In 1974 all the Doughty children were removed from the home –for the first time, when Joseph was found guilty and jailed for the sexual abuse of his children. The eldest daughter conceived a child by her father. The children were placed into foster care which offered no protection. The foster mother- referred to as Sally, is somewhat of a mystery. CAS case notes of Sally that little is known about her past except she had 8 natural children who all died around age 3 or 4 from a heart problem.
Joseph did his short stint in jail and then began an affair with Sally. The courts returned custody of all of the children to Joseph on the basis that a few flimsy criteria be met. He promptly moved everyone to Ontario. Marlene recalls bouncing from one town to another, keeping anonymous and forming no real connections.
“We lived in small towns that were kind of off the radar. We weren’t allowed to have friends, no after school activities – nothing like that. And the abuse went on. There were certain requirements that we had in the house. We couldn’t sleep with underwear on,” remembered Marlene.
It has been said of Sally, by both Marlene and Derrick, that she was physically and emotionally abusive. “And she liked to start things,” recalled Derrick. “She’d complain to him [Joseph] about some little thing or make something up and we’d get it.
The Doughty children were living in the Tomato Capital of Canada- Leamington, Ontario, when the baby of the family made a call that would finally put an end to the abuse, though the trauma they suffered would leave them aching for a lifetime.
Marlene speaks quickly and efficiently about the apocalyptic event. “Sally put me in my father’s bed that day while she took my other siblings out. I was naked. I told my father ‘no’ and I was terrified. You just didn’t tell my father that. Just a week before he beat a dog to death in front of us with a shovel. That was on Sunday. And the very next morning, Monday, I went to a neighbour’s house and called my Aunt, my dad’s sister, and I told her what he was doing to us and she wouldn’t come to get us. She was afraid of him. And the whole time I was on the phone, the school bus was coming and my sisters were getting on the bus, and they told the principal, and the principal came to my neighbour’s house that day and got me. And we were taken out of my father’s house that day.”
An investigation was launched. Joseph and Sally denied all allegations. Case notes read that Mr. Doughty reports he is a Christian man who feeds his family properly, does not allow his children to “run the streets”. No one can leave the yard unaccompanied except to go to Sunday School. The world is evil, society is bad and the children must be protected. The girls may not date until they are 16. They do not smoke or take drugs, and they go to Sunday School. The children are not allowed to speak to anyone who may come to the school or to speak on the phone at school. All contact with relatives has been stopped. The teachers have been told to call the police if necessary. Mr. Doughty is 51 years of age, speaks convincingly of his virtue and of his “torment”. He has had one breakdown and at one time was taking 11 different kinds of pills.
Despite his tremendous effort to demonstrate his “virtue” the Courts found enough evidence to finally distribute the children into group homes and foster care. Being the youngest, and therefore the easiest to place, Marlene was quickly adopted out. She was 11 years old.
So what of Caceila’s mothers childhood? What happened to Glenda? Marlene and Derrick shared their memories of her and case notes from social workers provide just a snapshot of her living hell.
“When it came down to Glenda, my brother and I and my older sister would protect Glenda…because she was different. She wasn’t like the rest of us. She was always by herself,” remarked Derrick. “But when she was sexually assaulted- it was my Dad and his friends, they would come to the house with valiums and say this is to fuck your daughter. The worst of it is that piece of shit would sit there and watch. He didn’t give a fuck. He had his valium.”
Case notes from Phyllis Neilson, an M.S.W, highlights many concerns about the Doughty children and in particular stated of Glenda’s wellbeing:
- A neighbour interviewed by a child protection worker claims that she was “especially concerned about Glenda who is ‘highly nervous and cries a lot. It is a family policy not to tell what is going on’.”
- Jan 25/79 – Dr. Anderson told me that Mrs. Doughty [Sally] had called him and asked him to put Glenda on birth control pills because of concern regarding boys (at the time of my interviews, Jan 23/79 Mrs. Doughty stated that Glenda was taking tranquillizers for nerves and birth control pills for periods) Both Mr. and Mrs. Doughty stated that all three girls were not allowed to go anywhere alone (except to school and Sunday School) and absolutely no dating.
- At present time I have serious concerns about the welfare of ***** and especially Glenda regarding possible sexual misuse.
It has been over 17 years since Marlene last saw or spoke to Glenda. Marlene had travelled to Sault Ste. Marie to make her peace with her biological mother before she passed. Of seeing Glenda again Marlene remarked, “I couldn’t believe the difference in her. She was afraid of water. She wouldn’t leave [our eldest sister’s]side. She wouldn’t leave the house and was just very childlike and scared.”
Derrick has been receiving updates about his sister from his eldest brother over the years but admitted that at times he has wondered about her actual whereabouts. “I’m concerned about my sister too. I’ve been talking to my brother and he’s the one that told me he put her in Vancouver Mental Hospital. Ever since she went out west nobody had any contact with her.”
Derrick admits that he has chosen to have very little to do with his family for the sake of his own recovery. Though the Derrick shared a common tragic experience, and survived it, with his five siblings, connecting with them triggers emotions he is not willing to expose himself to.
His reaction to managing trauma in his life, as does the distribution of the siblings while still young -such as in Marlene’s case, can offer some explanation as to how Glenda could have gone unmissed for such a long time- until her own daughter grew up and began asking questions.
It is November 4th, 2015, sixteen days after filing a missing persons report for Glenda. Caceila is struggling to speak through raw emotion.
“At first I tried to deny it and say I was ‘ok’ not having my mom. But as I got older I had to look for different female role models. I had lots of females in my life that loved me or mentored me and some that I even called ‘mom’. But no consistency throughout my life. So I don’t have that ‘mom’ figure. But I still have a sense of how much I loved my mom and how much I’d love to build a bond with her. So many nights I went to bed wondering where she was, so many nights spent on google searching her name. There’s a sense of guilt. I wish I knew how to do things, how to find her before now. I’m just glad that the light bulb turned on and I was able to do something about it.”
Caceila expressed a feeling of powerlessness as a child, and a feeling of acceptance that her mom wasn’t present. But when she entered into her own womanhood, strongly identifying as an indigenous woman, she expressed that she felt compelled to seek out her mother- wherever she may be found or not found. “I decided that I should use my education and what I’ve learned in life to do something about it. I’ve been raised by my Dad to do the best that I can for my mom. Whether it be to just tell her story, whether it be to give other families the courage to speak out about this kind of abuse or whether it be to join the fight on behalf of the mass amounts of missing aboriginal women in Canada.”
Having not heard from her mother for 14 years and not having ever received contact information from the one person in her life that claimed to be in touch with Glenda, Caceila began the search for her mother two weeks ago expecting to find her dead or to not find her at all. But neither scenario would be the case.
Caceila is weeping with abandon. “She’s alive! My mom is alive! Today I found out my mom is alive!”
A call only moments earlier from Sault Ste. Marie’s, Detective Constable Sean O’Dell affirmed Glenda’s safe location in a residential care facility in Vancouver. She has been there for quite some time.
“When I spoke to the officer I left my contact information for my mother and hysterically asked him to tell her I love her and to please write me. It’s just so amazing to know that she is safe and taken care of and actually alive. I was so worried that she would be alone and on the streets or dead.” Caceila is sniffling, her voice hitching.
“I want to tell her that I love her and I’m sorry it took so long. And that I’m going to be here for her now. And that I respect her. And that I’m not angry at her and I can’t wait to meet her. And I want to send her the one picture I have of us together and let her know that I want to have more. And I want to talk to her and tell her about my life. And how much she meant to me even though she wasn’t here…” Caceila gasps for breath as she finally surrenders over to a rising crescendo of sobs.
“And I just want to make sure she is ok. And I want her to feel loved and safe for the rest of her life.”
Caceila currently resides in Sudbury, Ontario. If you are able to help her reunite with her mom in Vancouver, B.C. please follow this link to support Caceila’s GoFundMe campaign.