Mother and sister of the murdered Clarinda want more attention for partner murder: ‘Do not dismiss it as family drama’

In broad daylight, she was stabbed to death in front of her daughter by her ex. And unfortunately, Clarinda van den Bersselaar is not the only one, warns her family. “It is time for us to realize the scale of the problem of violence against women.”

Talking about it is not easy for mother Lia and sister Anne-Marije, but they have a message. Violence against women is structural, they say. “What happened to her, listed in the public space, concerns us all.”

‘This is homicide’

It happened on September 8, 2021 in Den Bosch. In the morning as she walked down the street with her daughter to her parents. Many people witnessed the action. Jeffrey, her former partner, stabbed her 30 times. Clarinda, a mother, criminologist and council investigator at the Child Protection Agency, could not be rescued. She died on the street.

“By seeking this mention, I want to awaken the community,” her mother says. “In the newspapers, it is dismissed as a family drama or an incident in the relationship sphere. But this is feminicide. Forty to fifty women are murdered by their partners every year.” Sister Anne-Marije: “By calling it a ‘family drama’, one is actually saying that the family bears the responsibility and that it must be resolved there.” Mother and daughter want to start a conversation in the community.

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‘We had a good impression of him’

Jeffrey was the first friend Clarinda took home. Never before had she been in such a serious relationship. He presented himself as charming, someone who had life on rails and was cheerful. “A boy who cared for her, they both wanted to move forward,” says mother Lia. “We had a good impression of him, but that changed quickly.”

Clarinda and Jeffrey soon moved in together, waiting shortly for a baby. “It was wanted,” says Lia. There was greater distance between the family and the couple. “We gave it to you like that, so you give them space.” Jeffrey stated that he did not want to receive visitors for too long due to the crowds. “At one point we were only allowed to come by for 2 hours.”

Mother Lia and sister Anne-Marije

Declaration

When the baby was 6 weeks old, there was the first signal that something was wrong. “Then she called me in a panic,” says Lia. “‘Mom come and get me.’ I knew there was something wrong, but not how bad. Then I found her there among the boxes.” Clarinda was thin, sad and wanted away.

She told her mother that she had already stayed in a hotel during her pregnancy. “Then she lived with us for 3 months,” says Lia. Clarinda was still on leave and spent all her energy organizing help and therapy for her, Jeffrey and them as a couple. “She also went to file a report to the police, but she later changed it to a report.”

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‘The door is always open’

Still, she gave Jeffrey another chance. “She said, ‘Mom, I’m doing this job, it’s going to be okay.’ I trusted that, she knew exactly which agencies to call,” Lia says. “I asked her how she was doing. It always went well while I saw that she was losing weight and was different than usual,” she says. “But she was a 34-year-old woman. One can only offer help. I said, ‘The door is always open, you can always come 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 for myself that the relationship would not cope without knowing what it was like,” says Anne-Marije. “All in all, I felt it had no future. My approach was to be there for her, so I would not judge her relationship and her confidence in her choices.” Later it turned out that he also stabbed her in the neck with a bundle of keys. Lia and Anne-Marije did not know that.

Sisters Anne-Marije (left) and Clarinda

Sisters Anne-Marije (left) and Clarinda

‘You can not breathe’

On the morning of September 8, Clarinda Jeffrey informed that the relationship was really over. “It’s time for you to accept it,” she wrote to him. Following advice from the emergency services, she sent this message via WhatsApp. Jeffrey knew she was going to her parents that morning and drove there. He was waiting for her in the parking lot and stabbed her when he saw her.

“I was called by a lady who said my daughter was attacked,” Lia says. “Then I came down. And there she was already in a pool of blood.” Anne-Marije: “My father called me. You can not breathe, your life comes to a standstill. Everything flashes by. It will never be the same again.”

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The most dangerous moment is at the end of a relationship

Anne-Marije thought the relationship was over. “But what we did not realize was that it was the most dangerous moment.”

“We can do nothing for my sister anymore, she is no longer there,” says Anne-Marije. “But if we can contribute anywhere, it’s in the discussion of family dramas or behind closed doors, because this intimate terror has taken place in public space and traumatized more than thirty people.”

Clarinda as a young girl

Clarinda as a young girl

‘This is not something women have to solve’

Nearly 800,000 women are abused. “Then I’m afraid something’s wrong,” says Anne-Marije.

“We have to live with the loss of my sister, it’s up to us. But what happened to her, how it was behaved, in the public space: it concerns us all.” According to Anne-Marije, this is not something that women have to solve. “Because with that, you claim that women are to blame.”

‘She must not be dead in vain’

With her program, Clarinda has shown that assistance is not sufficient, says Anne-Marije. “The idealizing family can come at any cost and that it can be dangerous,” she says. “She did well. She did not need a man, but she chose it. It is allowed, but the price she paid for it is far too high.”

“I know what she stood for with her work. I know that if she was still nearby, she would have continued some of these problems in her work. So we do that now a little bit by telling this story,” says Anne – Mary. Mother Lia: “She should not be dead in vain, I think something should go.”

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