No one knows what truly goes on in a marriage.
In happy facebook photos and gushing Twitter posts, Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji and her neurosurgeon husband of 12 years, Dr. Mohammed Farid Shamji, appeared to be the portrait of marital bliss. Now the mother of three is dead, he’s in jail on first-degree murder charges and court documents newly obtained by Postmedia reveal the details of a 2005 domestic abuse incident which occurred when the newly married couple lived in Ottawa.
What had Fric-Shamji endured behind closed doors .Her husband was charged with assaulting her and threatening her bodily harm on May 12, 2005. He was also charged with threatening to harm their infant daughter.
On July 27, 2005, all charges against him were withdrawn after Shamji entered into a 12-month peace bond that stated that “Fric fears on reasonable grounds that Mohammed Farid Shamji will cause personal injury to her in that Mohammed Farid Shamji did use inappropriate actions.”
In a file memo dated that day, Crown Mark Moors of the domestic violence team wrote that he agreed to withdraw the charges in return for Shamji entering a recognizance with eight conditions: he was not to communicate, associate or be within 200 meters of Fric-Shamji “unless with her consent and under her conditions.”
He was also to continue treatment with an Ottawa psychiatrist and arrange to counsel with New Directions, an organization which works with people who have been abusive to their partners.
Roz Cowan represented Fric-Shamji at the time. “I remember her. I do remember her,” the Ottawa lawyer said Friday. “It’s very unfortunate. Unfortunately, that’s all I can say at this point.”
Mohammed Shamji has been charged with first-degree-murder
Last week, the remains of the beloved family doctor were discovered in a suitcase near the West Humber River in Kleinburg. She had died from strangulation and blunt-force trauma. Fric-Shamji, 40, had announced just days before that she was leaving her marriage.
That this could happen to a smart, accomplished physician is shocking and disturbing. What about all the resources at her disposal? What about the specialized insight she would have had as someone who was known to passionately advocate for her patients?
The sad, tragic truth is that her murder simply demonstrates that no one, no matter their education, their status, their background, is immune. She may have believed that she had it all under control but experts have long warned that the most dangerous time for a woman is when she finally makes the break and tries to leave.
For too many, that decision costs them their life.
Fric-Shamji’s family — and not her husband — reported her missing. Her body was discovered Dec. 1 and Shamji was arrested the following day. None of the allegations have yet been proven in court and he has not yet indicated how he will plead to the charge. Shamji remains in custody with a bail hearing scheduled for Dec. 20.
Her death has shaken the medical community. Since she became a “victim of unfathomable violence,” more than 1,000 online supporters have donated over $125,000 in a crowdfunding effort for her kids. “Elana’s proudest achievement was her three children. Her children have been stripped of both parents and whatever normalcy they knew. This is a fundraiser for them and their guardians. To provide for their immediate and future needs because Elana will no longer be able to do so.”
In her name, many of her colleagues are also wearing purple ribbons and pledging to do more about recognizing and helping people who may be experiencing domestic abuse. They’re also asking themselves what signs they missed and whether they could have done more.
By patients and friends alike, Fric-Shamji has been described as strong, vivacious and intelligent. You’re left to wonder what she would have told her younger self, that 29-year-old young doctor who was so afraid of her husband that she summoned the courage to go to Ottawa police in 2005 and press assault and threatening charges? What would she now tell any other woman who finds herself in that same precarious position?
You know what you would say. You would tell her to run.(Toronto sun)