The teen removed from her family home and placed in foster care in March 2018. (Pixabay.com)

B.C. teen, sexually abused by father, wins court appeal to change her last name

B.C. Supreme Court judge says a gap in the law had left the teen in a ‘hopeless situation’

A judge has granted a B.C. teen, who endured years of emotional and physical abuse from her father, permission to sever one of her last connections to her biological family and change her last name.

According to a court decision this week, the teen, who is only referred to as S.M.H., applied to B.C.’s Vital Statistics Agency for a name change in August with the help of a social worker. But she was rejected because only a parent or legal guardian can do so.

The girl had been removed from her family’s home and placed in foster care in March 2018. Today, she suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles with suicide ideation, and had to testify at her father’s trial for several charges, including sexual assault and incest.

Her anxiety and emotional distress is heightened when she has to sign, read or be called by her father’s last name.

“As a result of the trauma I have suffered at the hands of my father, the use of the surname increases the pain I feel arising from my past,” she said in her counselling records. “I verily believe that a change in my last name … will result in less bouts of anxiety and pain.”

She remains in contact with her biological mother, but her foster mother, whose last name she would take, said in an affidavit that the biological family believes the teen herself is responsible for damaging them.

ALSO READ: Married names policy discriminates against women, B.C. MLA says

Following a hearing in Chilliwack, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheila Tucker said the case has revealed a gap in the law and left the teen in a “hopeless situation.” She reversed the rejection of the application, allowing the girl to change her last name.

“I am satisfied on the evidence before me that using and answering to her family surname causes S.M.H. significant ongoing anxiety and distress that is injurious to her well-being and an obstacle to and distraction from her efforts to heal,” she wrote in her decision.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar autism workshop helps parents cope with wait times

Kootenay Family Place holding workshop Feb. 1

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

RDKB urges caution when reading into early snowpack reports

Staff say it’s too early in the season to have a strong handle on water flow projections

Treading snowy trails across the Boundary

Before the rain came this week, trails in the Boundary were well-travelled

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Opioid crisis to blame for shorter life expectancy in B.C. men, says Stats Can

Opioid crisis held responsible for declining life expectancy

Earthquake on top of highway closure a wake up call for Island’s West Coast

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Taxi association asks B.C. Supreme Court to stop Uber, Lyft from operating

Petition alleges Passenger Transportation Board did not take taxis into account

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Most Read