MONTREAL - It didn’t take long for Nadine Brillant’s friends to learn that the Quebec City woman’s two children and former partner died Tuesday is an apparent double-homicide and suicide.
After hearing the news on television, a distraught Brillant used Facebook to notify those close to her of the tragedy. “My ex has killed my children, I am crushed,” she wrote. An hour earlier, Brillant had posted that she’d heard on television about a fire in Warwick on the street where her former partner and her children lived – and hoped everything was okay. Hours after the bodies of Jocelyn Marcoux and the couple’s two children were found Tuesday in a burned-out shed behind their home, reporters discovered an angry diatribe against the family court system on Marcoux’s Facebook page.
“I swear by my heart of a father,” he wrote, “that my children will never be mistreated ever again, not even with the blessing of a hypocrite judge.”While many people couldn’t fathom posting such intimate details of their private lives online, the surge in popularity of social media sites like Facebook has made the website an accepted place to express joy and sorrow, experts say.“People are using Facebook like a personal journal or diary where they express their deepest feelings,” said Pierre Trudel, a Université de Montréal law professor, who studies social media. “There is a tendency to use Facebook as a communication tool, instead of the telephone. We are seeing this more and more. People know if they go there, someone will be listening.”
More and more, parents involved in child-custody battles and youth protection cases in Quebec are using social media sites to denounce court ruling that they are unhappy with. Last year, Quebec’s youth protection officials sent letters to some parents demanding they remove personal information about their children that they had posted on websites. Quebec law prevents anyone from identifying children who are being followed by youth protection. Posting too many details about custody battles can be risky because it can used against the parent when the case goes to court, Trudel suggested.
While Facebook may offer parents involved in child custody fights a forum to vent, problems can arise when one parent begins to receive feedback from friends who encourage them to maintain their stance and not compromise with their partner.“People can respond and encourage them to do things that are not in the child’s interest,” said Abe Worenklein, who teaches psychology at Concordia University and Dawson College. “They say things like: ‘That happened to me and don’t give up.’ The person (posting on Facebook) feels validated, but for the wrong reasons.”
Across Canada, 90 per cent of child custody cases are settled out of court. However, the 10 per cent that drag on through the courts are often acrimonious.“In many of these cases, emotions cloud judgment,” Worenklein said. “Communication between parents is so important.”
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