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An Alberta Politician Brought The Room To A Standstill With Her Story Of Domestic Violence

"My children have been scarred for their lives, and I will be horrified if anybody in this chamber votes against this bill."

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An Alberta MLA got a standing ovation in the legislature after sharing her harrowing story of domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.

Maria Fitzpatrick spoke Monday during debate over a bill that would make it easier for victims of domestic abuse to break their leases without paying financial penalties. The Lethbridge MLA said she supported the bill and described how domestic abuse had affected her personally.

"On September 5, 1972, five days after I was married, I realized there was a problem but could not put my finger on it. Words were spoken and I felt a shiver in my back and a knot in my stomach."

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"I didn’t know it then but the trap was being set and I was the game."

Fitzpatrick said this trap included nine years of violence, intimidation, and sexual assault at the hands of her husband. She said she left him repeatedly, only to end up back under the same roof.

"Three times I left with my kids. Twice I went to shelters. Twice I was forced to return or live on the street. Both times I returned and the violence got worse."

"And the threats, which he could have carried out at any time, became more frequent and more intimidating," Fitzpatrick said. "Broken bones, black eyes, sexual assault, and two miscarriages as a result of this abuse were only some of the physical atrocities I had to endure."

One time Fitzpatrick awoke to find a gun being held to the back of her head. There were no bullets as he pulled the trigger, but he promised there would be next time.

“He beat me. He raped me. And then he threatened that the next time there would be bullets, and he would kill our daughters first to hurt me and then kill me. I knew it would be just a matter of time before he followed through on these threats."

In 1981, Fitzpatrick says her ex-husband held the family at gunpoint for several hours, after which she packed her children onto a bus and made a 62-hour trip to Yellowknife in a bid to get as far away from him as possible.

The "trap" she had walked into when she married him was finally broken in 1992, she said, "when I learned my ex-husband was dead and I could stop looking over my shoulder."

“This should never have happened to me or these situations to anybody else. My children have been scarred for their lives and I will be horrified if anybody in this chamber votes against this bill."

Fitzpatrick got a standing ovation from the entire chamber, and not a single person voted against the bill.

Watch Fitzpatrick's full remarks.

View this video on YouTube

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Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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