In broad daylight she was stabbed to death in front of her daughter by her ex-husband. Unfortunately, Clarinda van den Perselaer is not the only one, her family warns. It is time for us to realize the scale of the problem of violence against women.”
Talking about it isn’t easy for Mom Leah and Sister Anne Marie, but they have a message. They say violence against women is structural. “What happened to her, in public, matters to all of us.”
This is a female murder.
It happened on September 8, 2021 in Den Bosch. In the morning, while she was walking down the street with her daughter to her parents. Lots of people saw the act. Jeffrey, her ex-partner, stabbed her 30 times. Clarinda, the mother, a criminologist and board investigator at the Child Protection Agency, cannot be saved. She died in the street.
“By pursuing this propaganda, I want to awaken society,” says her mother. “It’s ignored in the papers as a family drama or a relationship incident. But this is femicide. 40 to 50 women are killed by their partners every year.” Sister Anne Marie: “By calling it a ‘family drama’ you are actually saying that the family bears responsibility and should be disbanded there.” Mother and daughter want to start a conversation in the community.
“We had a good impression of him”
Jeffrey was the first friend Clarinda took home. She had never been in such a serious relationship before. He presented himself as a charming person, who had a life on the right path and was cheerful. “Boy with it, they both wanted to move on,” says Mom Leah. “We had a good impression of him, but that quickly changed.”
Clarinda and Jeffrey soon moved in together and were expecting a baby soon after. “It was desirable,” says Leah. There was more distance between the family and the couple. “We gave it to them like that, and you give them space.” Jeffrey indicated that he did not want to receive visitors for a long time due to crowding. “At one point we were only allowed to pass for two hours.”
When the baby was 6 weeks old, there was the first sign that something was wrong. “Then she called me in a panic,” says Leah. “Mom come get me. I knew something had happened, but not how bad it was. Then I found her there among the boxes.” Clarinda was skinny and sad and wanted to leave.
She told her mother that she had already stayed in a hotel during her pregnancy. “Then she lived with us for 3 months,” says Leah. Clarinda was still on vacation and was putting all her energy into organizing help and treatment for her, Jeffrey, and them as a married couple. “I also went to file a report with the police, but they later changed it to a report.”
‘The door is always open’
However, she gave Jeffrey a second chance. “She said, ‘Mom, I’m doing this work, it’s going to be fine. I was confident, I knew exactly which agencies to contact,” says Leah. “I asked her how she was doing,” she says. It always went well, while I saw that she was losing weight and different than usual.” “But she was a 34-year-old woman. Only you can help. I said, ‘The door is always open, you can always go back.’
In the summer of 2021, the relationship seemed to be stranded. The couple decided to live separately from each other. “I noticed and saw myself that the relationship wasn’t going to work, without knowing what it was like,” Anne-Marije says. “I felt in everything he had no future. My style was to be there for her, so I wouldn’t judge her relationship and trust her choices.” It later turned out that he had also stabbed her in the neck with a set of keys. Leah and Anne Marie didn’t know it.
You can’t breathe
On the morning of September 8, Clarinda informed Jeffrey that the relationship was really over. “It’s time to accept that,” she wrote. On the advice of emergency services, I sent this message via WhatsApp. Jeffrey knew she was going to her parents that morning and headed there. He was waiting for her in the parking lot and stabbed her when he saw her.
“I got a call from a woman who said my daughter was being attacked,” says Leah. “Then I went down. And there she was already in a pool of blood.” Anne Marie: “My dad called me. You can’t breathe, your life stops. Everything flashes. It will never be the same again.”
The most dangerous moment at the end of a relationship
Anne Marie thought the relationship was over. “But what we didn’t realize was that that was the most dangerous moment.”
“We can no longer do anything for my sister, she is no longer around,” says Anne-Marig. “But if we can contribute anywhere it is in the debate about family drama or behind closed doors, because this intimate horror happened in public and shocked more than thirty people.”
‘This is not something women have to solve’
Nearly 800,000 women are abused. “So I’m scared, something isn’t right,” says Anne Marie.
“We have to come to terms with losing my sister, it’s up to us. But what happened to her, how it was performed, in public: that matters to all of us.” According to Anne-Marije, this is not something women should solve. “Because you are confirming that the blame falls on the woman.”
“She must have died in vain.”
Anne-Marig says Clarinda has shown through her program that help is not enough. “This perfect family can come at any cost and it can be dangerous,” she says. “She did it well. She didn’t need a man, but she chose one. It’s allowed, but the price she paid for it is too high.”
“I know what she advocated in her work. I know that if she were still around, she would have continued some of these problems in her work. So now we’re doing that a little bit by telling this story,” says Anne-Marie. Mother Leah: “You shouldn’t have died in vain, I think something should go on.”