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

Smithers relocates downtown homeless population

Bylaw officer Matt Davey says the move was made with buy-in from the affected people

Canfor extends Houston, Plateau mill closures

COVID-19 continues to dampen lumber demand

Smithers single family home sales up in first quarter of 2020

Real Estate board predicts decline in second quarter due to COVID-19

Coastal GasLink gives $100K to United Way efforts in Northern B.C.

Organization’s COVID-19 Relief Fund benefits seniors in isolation, among others

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

UNBC opts for virtual convocation in June, commits to face-to-face after COVID-19

Interim president Geoff Payne said feedback prompted him to commit to traditional one when possible

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

Most Read