Turning trauma into healing: The woman speaking out in aftermath of ex-husband's hidden camera case
A Winnipeg woman, whose ex-husband pleaded guilty to breaking into the home where she lived with her two children and installing cameras in the walls, is speaking out to help with the healing process now that a publication ban in the case has been lifted.
Sara Usman’s ex-husband was sentenced to two years in jail in February 2019 for break and enter and committing mischief.
A publication ban that previously prevented Usman from being identified was lifted July 16 before Provincial Court Judge Wanda Garreck by way of a notice of motion, the Crown confirmed.
Usman wanted the ban lifted so she could share her story publicly.
“I believe it’s the start of my own healing process and my ability to be able to help other women,” said Usman. “I felt it was important for me to be able to speak about it.”
Court heard sometime between January and April of 2018 the man broke into his ex-wife’s home where she lived with the couple’s two children. It’s not known exactly how long the cameras were present but court heard police suspected they may have been found by Usman near the day they had been installed.
“He took tools sufficient to allow him to cut holes in walls, hide electrical cords and install two cameras into the walls which would allow him to watch the private activities of the house, including one camera in the dining room and one camera in the bedroom of the complainant – his ex-wife,” Garreck told court during the sentencing decision. “There was no evidence before me of any images being captured or present on any of the devices retrieved by police from the accused’s residence, but the setup was certainly in place for doing just that.”
Court heard Usman’s ex-husband installed the cameras because he was concerned about how his children were being treated.
“His belief, he said, is that he needed video proof of her actions,” Garreck told court. “And it was on that backdrop that he made the decision to go ahead in this criminal matter and install cameras, out of concern, he says, for his children. This of course is not an excuse and it really does not mitigate his moral culpability.”
Court heard Usman suffered significant emotional and psychological trauma.
“The invasion of privacy was the huge thing — just knowing that someone was in there,” said Usman. “That’s something me and my kids will be living for the rest of our lives.”
She said the incident prompted her to start a volunteer organization called the Shameless Circle.
The group meets on Sundays to share experiences and take part in special programming, including self-defence classes and professional development workshops.
“The organization is based on providing a sense of community to women who may have been shamed or feel isolated from their own community and family members,” said Usman. “I think it was really empowering for me to be able to get off my couch on Sunday and to just think, ‘I can do this, I can get out there, I’m okay and I have the ability to be able to change other lives.’ I think it was really empowering.”
Usman said there are many reasons why women can be shamed or feel isolated and she feels her organization will help make a difference in their lives.
“I think shame is a feeling if you let it get to you, if you don’t — if you stand tall against it then there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” said Usman. “I’ve received a really positive response from our community members, from women in Winnipeg who say they feel connected to such a cause.”
With credit for time served, Usman’s ex-husband had nine months remaining on his sentence back in February.
According to court documents he is appealing the length of the sentence.
His lawyer tells CTV News an appeal date has not yet been set.