My Daughter was a very Loving and Caring Person. If someone needed anything Staci would always be there to help them. Staci Had a Very Big Heart. She worked as a caregiver to the disabled. On October 24th, 2020 My Daughter was Brutally Murdered by her Boyfriend Brandon Evans in which when she met him and he did not have a home and Staci let him move in with her and he abused my Daughter for a long time, but she would not say anything to anyone until June of 2020 when she had him put in jail for him beating her. Unfortunately when he was released from jail she took him back and he Brutally Stabbed my Daughter to Death on October 24th, 2020 the incident was on the Cincinnati News Channel. The police were called because of a domestic disturbance and once the first officer arrived he was confronted by Evans who was naked and holding a knife, the officer told him to drop the knife and he lunged forward at the officer and the officer shot Evans and he was dead at the scene.
My name is Kris, and I have been a domestic violence advocate now for 21 years. In addition to my advocacy work, I have also become a resiliency speaker sharing my own story of domestic violence and the horrifying events that led up to the murder of my 3yr old daughter, Miranda.
As I share this horrifying story, I also like to share how I overcame this horrible tragedy and how I found happiness and joy again. I also share my story in hopes that it touches and encourages just one abuse victim to seek safety for her and her children.
My story begins in 1993 when I met and fell in love with a man who I thought was the man of my dreams. We had an enormous wedding with all of the pomp and circumstance you can imagine. My entire wedding attire was handcrafted, from the roses and pearls on my veil to the roses on my shoes. It was my dream wedding.
It was the event of the year that turned sour and sinister within six months. My life turned into a real-life horror story. I was 23 at the time of my marriage. The abuse started as soon as the marriage certificate was signed. The man that I thought loved me like no other turned into a monster.
In 1995, I became pregnant with a beautiful and very healthy baby girl, who we named Miranda Faith. She could not have been a more perfect and happy baby. I instantly fell in love with her and the role of motherhood.
By 1997, my marriage had deteriorated to the point that there was no salvaging it, and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave my husband, my abuser. His name was *Henry, and he was a Firefighter/Paramedic.
Once I decided to file for divorce, most of my days were spent living in fear and frustration. I was ALWAYS in constant fear for my life and the life of our daughter. I was divorcing my husband for mental and emotional abuse, cheating, gaslighting, financial abuse, and his blatant disrespect for our marriage and family. Everything that could be balled up in an unhealthy marriage was part of my marriage.
From the moment I asked Henry to leave our home, the abuse escalated. Henry felt his controlling grip begin to loosen, and he noticed that I was changing. He was starting to notice that I was getting stronger in my will to stand up to him, and this scared him. And when Henry felt threatened, the devil that lived inside of him would rear its ugly head.
First, it began with constant phone calls all hours of the day and night at home and work. He began following me everywhere I went and showing up at my place of employment, friend’s houses, the mall, restaurant, you name it, he was ALWAYS THERE.
He would call me early in the morning and give me a blow by blow of what I had done the night before, who I was with and where I went, what I was wearing, what time I had left my house, and what time I returned home.
So many times, he or his father paid for other people to follow me, purposely scare me, or try to run me off the road and take my picture. These strangers were paid to terrorize me! He even went as far as hiring someone to come to my front door late one night posing as a person who had lost their dog.
The stalking, harassment, and threats never stopped. At this point, I was forced to file a restraining order to try and keep Henry away from Miranda and me, but the abuse continued and escalated. The restraining order just fueled his anger even more.
It became so exhausting and so scary that I was encouraged to press charges to have him arrested for stalking and for violating his restraining order. I had to document every single thing that happened from the ungodly amount of phone calls to the times we exchanged Miranda, every conversation, and every unexpected visit. I had to document every time I noticed him following me and when he showed up at my place of employment.
I became the queen of documentation. You see, the burden of proof is always put on the victim to prove that she is in danger and scared to death for herself and her children.
During this time, we were fighting over custody. I felt it appropriate that he only get supervised visitation. After all, he had threatened to kill us many times. I did not think that that was an unreasonable request, but of course, he wanted to get full custody. It was nasty and terrifying. I was terrified for Miranda’s life and mine, but I could not convince a judge that Henry was a dangerous man. So many times, I kept hearing, “I’m sorry, but we can’t do anything until something happens.”
Henry would call me in the middle of the night during Miranda’s visits, threatening to kill Miranda and then himself. This, of course, would send me into a panic of monumental proportions. I would call the police; they would go and check on them, and Henry would laugh and say that I was the crazy ex-wife who was harassing him.
He would get a pat on the back, and he would go right back to stalking and threatening. He would even call me after the police left.
I would get so many phone calls that I could not keep up with all of the documentation on my own, so my parents hired an answering service to answer and document all calls coming from him.
Henry made it his life’s mission to stalk me even using the ambulance he was driving to follow me, and his partner never reported it. He would sit outside of the courthouse where I worked and just watch. He wanted me to know that he was always watching me.
After months of stalking and documenting, and after nearly losing my job, I finally obtained enough evidence to have him arrested. I had a huge three-ring binder of all of the evidence that my mother, her secretary, and I had put together. I had done my part 100%.
Finally, he was going to jail, and for once during this whole battle, he was going to be held accountable for the abuse. After months of calling the police, after pleading with the Fire Chief to talk to him and hold him accountable, and after months of pleading with his parents to help control him, he was FINALLY going to jail.
However, instead of going to the firehouse to arrest Henry, the police called him as a courtesy, so that they would not embarrass him in front of his co-workers. They asked him to come down to the station and turn himself in. They assured him it would be hush-hush, and he would be out of there by the end of business that day.
Within an hour of being arrested, he posted bail and was right outside my house sitting in his truck watching. Again. Henry was NOT held accountable. Again, another pat on the back.
NO ONE listened to me; no one in authority would listen.
NO ONE wanted to believe that this man was DANGEROUS.
Once Henry was sentenced, his original sentence of 8 months of jail time was suspended, and the judge ordered him to participate in 10 sessions with a certified psychiatrist, and he had to report to his parole officer once a week. He was also granted joint custody even though he had just been convicted of a crime.
Instead of making Henry do those sessions with a certified psychiatrist, his parole officer reduced his sentence yet again to just one week’s worth of anger management. Henry did not need anger management. Henry managed his anger just fine, especially when there were witnesses.
Henry was never held accountable for anything. He was a member of the “brotherhood,” and he most certainly received preferential treatment.
He used the uniform and the ambulance to inflict fear and intimidation like you have never known, and they allowed it.
He used the uniform as a way of getting away with harassing me. He knew that if I called the police, they would not do a thing to him because he was a firefighter.
I thought the torture would never stop. I was always on high alert. Henry was always stalking, threatening, and lurking outside my house. I fought this man for three solid years. He was everywhere! If it was not him, it was his father or some sleazy friend they would hire to continue the torture.
I had almost become numb and accustomed to it. I had grown accustomed to the feeling that one day he would kill me. At one point, I had made my peace with it. I did not know of any other way to live. Miranda and I never received the help we so desperately needed.
Then one day, I noticed that the incidences were occurring less often. I had noticed that the turmoil had somewhat subsided. Was he getting bored? Was he trying to throw me off by backing off? No, that was not the case at all.
It was not until he met someone else that the torment somewhat subsided. I, too, had met someone and was trying to live a normal life. Things became quiet, and for the first time in a year or more, I thought we had finally made it to a place where we could actually get along. I was so hopeful. I was foolishly optimistic.
Henry turned had his attention to a new woman. I am not going to lie; I was so relieved he was leaving me alone. He had moved on to a new victim and another victim she was.
Her name was *Leah. She was a physical therapist at one of the local hospitals and the mother of 2 young daughters. She was beautiful, self-sufficient, owned her own home, and had a great job. She had her whole life ahead of her—a life of promise and success.
After about eight months, their relationship started to deteriorate. Henry was having financial problems and was living off of Leah. Just like a narcissist does, he professed his love for her, promptly moved in overwhelming her with gifts, charm, and false promises.
I found out later that she had become afraid of his controlling behavior. She was living on the ever-changing roller coaster of Henry’s moods. She was too afraid to cross him. He had become possessive, delusional, and overall too controlling. After they moved in together just after a few weeks of dating, he demanded they get married. It was all too much too fast.
He had asked her to marry him. She said yes, too terrified to tell him no. Throughout the next couple of months, things began to deteriorate between them, and that nagging horrible feeling began to haunt me yet again.
Finally, after her oldest daughter, who was 15 at the time, decided to move back to her dad’s, Leah found the courage to tell Henry to leave. She had decided that this was not the life she wanted for herself or her daughters.
Henry left and moved back in with his parents. As you can imagine, this was a massive blow to his ego, and he was furious.
The Downward Spiral
From this point on, things began to spiral out of control. Henry began tormenting her the exact same way he did me. She filed for her protective order and had begged and pleaded with the Fire Chief to tell Henry to back off. Henry had violated the restraining order so many times.
Leah contacted Henry’s parole officer, and he was put on paid leave and encouraged to see a doctor, causing Henry became irate. His behavior once again became erratic and increasingly unpredictable. He threatened to kill her and then himself. Henry was becoming unhinged.
He began acting erratically with me again and giving me a hard time about visitation with Miranda.
During the time all of this was happening, I had been working for the Tax Assessor’s office, and I had finally gained my deputy assessor’s certification. It had taken me six years to get my certification, and I was so very proud. It was a huge accomplishment for me. I was making a better life for Miranda and me. I was getting paid a little bit more, and I was well on my way to a promising career. For the first time, I had everything going for me.
I had recently remarried, and my husband Jeff and I were headed to New Orleans for my pinning ceremony.
Since Henry was given joint custody, I was forced by the judge to leave Miranda in his care until my return four days later. It was gut-wrenching having to turn away and leave her. And it turned out to be the biggest mistake of my entire life.
On a cold Tuesday night, January 12, 1999, Henry went to his parent’s house and switched vehicles with his dad. He then picked Miranda up from daycare and then drove to the hospital where Leah worked. She had been in a staff meeting with several of her co-workers and was due to leave the building at approximately 5 pm.
Henry pulled into the parking lot and parked on the opposite side of the hospital to not be seen or recognized as she was leaving the building. As Leah was walking out, surrounded by her friends and co-workers, Henry approached her.
He begged her to talk to him. He asked for two minutes of her time, and she said no. She told him he is not supposed to be there, and if he did not leave, she would call the police. She reminded him that he was violating his restraining order yet again.
It was at this time that Henry pulled out a Smith and Wesson .38 Special that he got from his father, and he shot Leah point-blank in the face three times. Leah dropped to the ground, dead and unrecognizable. People began to run and scatter, screaming and running for cover. They were hiding under cars and running into the open field next to the parking lot.
Henry drug her lifeless body to a grassy median and laid her body out. He then, ever so calmly, walked to the vehicle where he left my little girl sitting alone. He carried Miranda over to Leah’s dead body; he held her on his lap and began talking to her. According to witness statements, he whispered in her ear, then put the gun to her tiny temple and pulls the trigger. He turned her over and shot her again.
He then laid Miranda’s body next to Leah’s and pulled out a hunting knife that he got from his father and began to stab and slice Leah’s body over and over and over again.
In the blink of an eye, two innocent people were dead. This man was Miranda’s father. Her father failed her. He was supposed to love and protect her. He was supposed to be the example she would judge all other men against, and he killed her!
Within minutes, the very fire station that Henry worked at had to make that call. He knew his co-workers would be the ones to come to help. He had been planning it all along. Police were on the scene, and the ambulance was there waiting to try and help the victims, but Henry refused to put his weapon down.
The police asked him over and over to put down his weapon, and he refused. He slowly brought his gun up and pointed it at the police. The officers had no choice but to shoot. After several rounds, Henry was dead.
He had killed my only child. He had taken a precious life that was not his to take. He had taken the mother of two young girls. The scene, as you can imagine, was total chaos and confusion.
Henry murdered Miranda just four days shy of her 4th birthday. I had already planned her party and sent out her invitations. I was six hours away and had a very long six-hour drive home. It was the worst six hours of our lives. I had absolutely no details, only that my precious daughter was dead.
Miranda died that night at approximately 5:30 pm with two gunshot wounds to her tiny head. At 9:30 that Tuesday night, I got the call from the Chaplain of the fire department.
My mind could not comprehend what had happened. I had so many questions. How was I supposed to live the rest of my life without her? How was I supposed to be a loving wife and partner to this man who loved Miranda like his own? We had only been married for three weeks. How were we going to build a life together after such a horrific event?
Here I was with a wonderful husband looking back at me completely helpless.
Within a couple of hours, the story hit the news. My mother was working in Houston, and my dad had just gotten off work, and my brother was living in Ft. Worth at the time. We were scattered around living our lives when our world literally stopped spinning.
The days that followed were an absolute blur. I had to make some tough decisions. We were all depending on our bodies to take over what our brain and our hearts could not comprehend, like a machine.
It was by sheer perseverance and determination that I decided that Henry was not going to have the last word. I decided right then that I was not going to let him win. He may have thought he won by trying to destroy me by killing my daughter, but I had other plans. I was NOT going to allow him to steal the joy I had by starting a new life. I was NOT going to let him or his family scare me any longer. I decided right then and there that I was going to fight harder than ever before to tell the world exactly what he had done.
Before he killed Miranda and Leah, Henry left behind a suicide tape detailing his plan and the reasons why he felt justified in murdering.
Leah – If I can’t have her, then no one will. Miranda – It was revenge.
I decided then that I was going to have the last word, and I came up swinging.
I was determined to tell this heartbreaking story to the whole world. I am determined to shout it from the highest mountain.
Maybe, just maybe, this time someone will listen.
I stand before you today, 21 years later, an example of resiliency and hope. I stand before you today a woman so strong in her desire to advocate for the rights and protection of women and children.
I started the process of healing by embracing my grief and allowing my heart, my body and my mind to process the trauma. The grief was mine, and I knew that I needed to allow my whole being to carefully process what had happened.
I had a wonderful husband and family, who were my amazing support system. I am one of the very few victims of domestic violence who had a support system. Many victims have no one. Their abuser has managed to isolate them from all friends and family and everyone that loves them.
My entire family went on a crusade. We began our healing by being proactive. We all became advocates for victims of Domestic Violence as a family who spoke out about the laws that needed to be changed and applied. We held attorneys, judges, law enforcement, and the fire department accountable for their lack of action.
As a family, we put up billboards, printed magazines, and my mother and I both began to speak up and speak out. We, as a family, sought counseling together, and we healed by thrusting ourselves into trying to help others who were suffering with violent partners or with a justice system that just won’t listen.
During the hardest times in our lives, helping others helped us.
Domestic violence is a broad topic. It is not black and white; it is not just broken bones and black eyes and bruises. It is hard for many people to understand the dynamics of Domestic Violence.
The unique part of my story is that Henry never physically abused me. His form of abuse was mental and emotional abuse, intimidation, and he used his uniform and his influence to control both Leah and me.
If you think that a mental and emotional abuser does not kill, well, the proof lies in a tiny grave.
A year after Miranda was murdered, I found out that Henry had approached a fellow firefighter to see if he might know someone who would kill my family and me.
Henry was planning a hit. This man was so upset, and he reported it to his Captain. The Captain did not take it seriously and never reported it to the Chief.
Over the past 21 years, I have spent my time advocating for victims and bringing more awareness to DV. I have traveled the world with my husband, who just recently retired from the Air Force after 27 years of service. I have raised two amazing children, now 19 and 17.
Now I am back home, I have come full circle, and my goal is to take this place by storm. More than anything, I want to collaborate with our law enforcement and our justice system and our Domestic Violence organizations to help educate our community and this wonderful state that I love so much.
This is my calling. This is what I want to do until I take my last breath. I will NEVER be silenced. I will ALWAYS be Miranda’s voice and the voice for victims whose voices have been silenced by domestic homicide.
I would also like to add that regardless of the sad circumstances of Miranda and Leah’s murders, I am forever grateful and supportive of our law enforcement and our first responders. Domestic Violence calls have proven to be one of the most dangerous calls for our police officers.
I can only imagine how hard it was for police to pull their triggers that day and take down a mad man. I know and felt the overwhelming disbelief and sadness that Henry’s fellow firefighters felt the day they had to look down at a small child and fellow brother and pull the blanket over their faces.
During Miranda’s funeral, the back half of the large church we attended, was a sea of blue. It was standing room only. We even had a police escort for the 2 ½ hour drive to our family plot.
Miranda’s birthday is January 16th. She died on January 12th just four days shy of her 4th birthday. Every year I allow myself to grieve, and I allow myself to celebrate this little life I so beautifully created.
As strange as it may seem to all of you, I thank the universe for this horrific experience. It has taken years to realize this experience was a gift. I could only be grateful when I realized that I would have rather known her for just a second than never at all.
I would rather endure the inexplicable pain of outliving her than to have never seen her precious face or spoken her sweet name. I am genuinely and deeply grateful to Miranda for choosing me to be her mother.
I am the one who would be able to fight for her like no other. Not only fight for her but fight for a cause that has plagued our society for centuries, violence against women.
Women should NOT have to die so that others may stay alive.
In closing, I would like to share with you one of my favorite quotes by Oprah Winfrey. To me, it is just so profound, and it touched me, and it made so much sense to me. She says, “I have interviewed and portrayed people who have withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one thing they all seem to share is the ability to maintain HOPE. Hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.”
I stand before you today a perfect example of what hope is.
The day he executed my sister was like any other day.
I was mowing the lawn listening to Pillars of the Earth on my headset. I was at the part where the boys in the castle were throwing rocks at helpless cats just because they could. Cornish hens with little red potatoes were baking in the oven on low heat. The weather in Duluth was unseasonably warm and blue and happy. I wore a Lady Gaga t-shirt and faded black shorts. The same tattered clothes I ended up wearing to the hospital that night. Not sure why I remember these insignificant, tedious details, but I do.
Perhaps, because this is when the earth fell off her axis.
Did My Sister Call for Me?
They say your life flashes before you at the end of your days. If that is true, I believe my sister was thinking of our childhood, big fat Italian dinners, bologna sandwiches slathered in miracle whip, sprinting through Aunt Carol’s sprinkler in May, and her boys. Her three fatherless boys, whom she did not get the chance to watch grow up, get married, and become a doctor, a carpenter, an FBI agent.
Did she call out my name?
He left work early that day; he said he had appointments scheduled, people to see, things to do. His actual plan was to kill my sister. He had already changed the insurance policies and bought a small beretta gun. He even said goodbye to his mother.
I imagine him waiting in a dim corner like one of Kafka’s insects for her to get home from work. A predator. Monster. My brother-in-law. Before he pulled the trigger, I wonder if he uttered a prayer to whomever murderers’ pray to, if he took communion, “this is my broken body; this is my blood.” I imagine he said something like, “I love you. I hate you. Nobody else can have you.”
This is not love.
My Sister’s Monster
She was fifteen when they met. A baby compared to him, a Lolita. He lured her with his long hair, hockey status, and Master’s degree. He picked Kay up after school like a daddy and waited on our porch on 65th Street for her to get home from other engagements. At the time, none of us realized there was a name for that, stalking. Abuse begins early like a slow simmer. My sister was too good for him, too pretty, too nice. These qualities are what killed her in the end. In truth, what he desired was a grand piano to sit in the backroom quietly without being played.
At 5:15 PM, I got the call, “Did you know? Did you hear the news? Mike shot Kay.”
I fell to the floor, lost my breath, my saliva, my mind, and suddenly found myself entering a white room smelling of Tabu perfume and sweating armpits. My sister was hooked up to ventilators, tubes, and ugly needles. Her hair was newly tinted with caramel highlights, and she looked as if she had just left the hair salon except for the blood that had dried and hardened on the right side of her head. Black mascara leaked like teardrops under both eyelids. Two guards stood at the door like bouncers at a nightclub, and I found out later this is the procedure they must follow after somebody has been murdered.
Kay and I had tickets for Sex and the City that night. Buttered popcorn with tons of salt and Diet Cokes. We used to giggle about which character we were. I was Carrie, the writer. She was Charlotte, the conformist. It was one of our rare sister dates. We would drink wine afterward and discuss paint colors for her new apartment. Eventually, we would end up talking about Mike. “I wish he’d die,” she often said. “I wish he would’ve gone to Iraq. I wish…I wish.”
She stayed until it was too late.
I circled her bed like a crazy person with Mad Cow disease. “Wake up, wake up, please, wake up.” I know she heard me and wanted to rise from the stiff, starched sheets. I know she realized she should have left him years earlier. After the first kick, the first, “you’re a cunt,” the first encounter. I know so many things now. For example, we cannot save somebody who does not want to be saved; we cannot change somebody who does not want to be changed.
Sometimes, I thank God her executioner did his homework beforehand. One or two bullets would have placed her in a brain injury facility, but the third bullet did the job properly. At least he did that right. One right thing in 25 years.
When the doctor walked into the waiting room, we erected from our chairs like obedient children. “Is she awake? Can she come home?”
He was detached, like the fictional character Slender Man. Featureless. He just stood there shaking his head.
I despised him and his chalky skin. I was not prepared for whatever he was about to say, or not say. When your sister is murdered, they should provide you with warm-grandma quilts, bible verses, Pinot Noir in fancy flute glasses, brie cheese, and crackers, something more than this.
But he simply stood there shaking his faceless head.
“Don’t. Don’t say it. Don’t fucking say it.”
I wanted to plug my ears, finish mowing the lawn, push the clock hands back to May 25th, 1978. I wanted to break every finger on Mike’s right hand, give him a piece of what was left of my mind, and ask him why he married my sister. I wanted to curse a silent God and tell him I lost my religion. Even more than that, more than anything, I wanted to scream. Scream until every bit of darkness emptied from my body. Half a heart beating on a tiled floor.
Before the memorial service, I drove to Target to find a suitable dress, nylons, lipstick. Why did it matter when my sister was nearly buried in the cold, Minnesota soil? Why did anything matter? Since the liquor store was on the way, I also bought two or three bottles of wine for later on. It would have been easy to become an alcoholic, a drug addict, or somebody who placed heavy rocks inside her pockets and marched directly into Lake Superior. So damn easy to become nothing at all.
I was told I read E.E. Cummings at my sister’s funeral, but my memory is a blur. The fact is, all I remember is standing at a podium staring out into a massive crowd of spectators wondering why I was there. Many of them were crying, blotting their noses, and undoubtedly whispering something like, “Oh, dear, why did she stay with a man like that?”
He was never a man.
I find it astonishing how the mind and body can survive such pain, such immense biting and burning of internal organs. How a sisterless sister can keep breathing, how broken pieces of humans can be glued back together again and again. What they do not tell you is grieving never ends; it is only born into the universe and does not expire until you do.
Before they turned off the breathing machines, my sister’s lungs, liver, and eyes were removed and donated to people on waiting lists. It offers me comfort to know somebody, somewhere, is walking around with those big brown eyes. Those same eyes that have witnessed such suffering are now gazing into endless sapphire skies and flung open cages exclaiming, “I’m free, free, free.”
Written by: Rachel, Survivor
Trigger Warning: This story contains an account of abuse as well as brief discussion of violence culminating in the death of a victim of domestic violence or a loved one. Some survivors may find this particularly upsetting. Please consider your triggers and well-being before reading past this point.
On the morning of December 9, 2017, my husband of 13 years took the lives of our nine-year-old son and five-year-old daughter before taking his own. When it happened, I was overwhelmed and in shock. I struggled to reconcile the reality of what happened and wanted to blame it on mental illness, depression, and him just snapping. I could handle neither the death of my children nor the weight of it, knowing it was caused by vindictiveness.
His family, whom I was close to, also shamed me into silence and minimized his history of abuse simply because it was not physical. As a result, I was mostly quiet about the full story for the first year after it happened. My heart ached to reveal what I had experienced and the whole truth of what happened to my children that December morning.
I had so many nightmares and near-constant anxiety because I had kept it all locked up inside. After much therapy and soul searching, I came to recognize that evil sits in the shadows of silence. I will not be silent and allow this part of my story to be swept under the rug or for others to live this alone, unaware of the risks they face.
Fear of being judged by others makes it hard to speak up – even though it happened to you and is your story to tell. There is always a perpetrator, and so many times, it is someone you love. Although you are being hurt, you do not want to hurt them back; you only want to be loved and respected. You hope for change, so you stay silent. Silence is lonely and confusing, and all it does is leave a string of heartbreaks in its wake.
You deserve someone who will listen and lookout for the best interests of you and your children. Trying to save an abusive relationship is impossible unless the abuser admits they have a problem and is actively engaged in therapy, demonstrating a commitment to make lasting changes. Admittedly, this is rare and is most often the exception rather than the rule.
Even some pastors lack a proper understanding of the dynamics present in abusive relationships. Instead of guiding you toward resources to help, they often apply religious beliefs to convince you to stay, stressing that God prioritizes unity – and rejects divorce – over your safety. Ideally, you should see a licensed therapist who has domestic violence and trauma training and listen to them, not the one inflicting the pain.
So, why did I stay in this relationship if it was so abusive? This is a good question, and it is one that I am still trying to figure out. The biggest reason I continued to stay in the relationship is that I loved him. Ironically, the reasons I stayed for the last few years were our children and the extreme guilt I carried for hurting my husband.
Even from the beginning of our relationship, I always hated when we fought and the sort of things he would resort to. I hated how vindictive he was, even with others, and how he always put himself before the children and me. Despite how difficult the last two and a half years of the marriage were, the majority of our 17 years together overall were not hard times.
Initially, I was drawn in by the attraction I felt for him. He was very handsome, and his blue eyes just pulled me in. I loved him for his sense of adventure and how he had a way of not letting fear stop him. He pushed himself to achieve so much. There was nothing that he could not – or would not try to – figure out. I always took the safe route, and there was a thrill in being with him. I also felt secure in knowing he would always learn how to take care of whatever problem may arise.
His thirst for knowledge inspired me. He seemed to know a little about everything and was a deep thinker. I always took things at face value – without question – and just believed what I was told. He questioned everything and wanted to know how it all worked. Again, this trait was the opposite of me, and I found it attractive.
I loved him because as long as I didn’t talk about something he had done negatively, he listened to me – a trait I hadn’t seen in many men – and we were best friends. We had this foundation that I relied on to keep me connected to him and our marriage. If there was no conflict, our marriage was pretty good, but realistically, we all know it will arise occasionally.
During our marriage, I never saw myself as a doormat. I said what I was feeling, but I honestly think that caused more confusion. Our friends and family – and both he and I – all believed that I was strong-willed and stubborn. How can that type of personality be vulnerable to abuse? Perhaps, it could be assumed that I had even caused some of it.
There were red flags from the beginning, but I lacked confidence in my ability to find someone who would make me feel truly loved. I feared being alone. That was my fault, and I thought that it was not fair to him to stay in a relationship where I didn’t feel completely loved. He would tell me that I expected a fairy tale, and that wasn’t real life. Also, he said that I was lucky that I ended up with him and not someone who would take advantage of me.
We started dating in the summer of 2000. He was my first boyfriend, and I had no experience to know how a relationship worked. My parents didn’t have a good relationship. I was young and thought that my expectations were set too high. Part of me also believed that it was a maturity issue he would eventually outgrow. Plus, as I said, I relied on the qualities I mentioned earlier that I loved about him to keep me in. Somewhere during the years we dated, he admitted to me that he was addicted to OxyContin. I was floored, and although we were both naive to addiction at that time, I supported his efforts to quit.
After dating for three years, I wanted to get married. I didn’t believe in living together before marriage, and I was tired of having to clean two apartments. Also, I was growing tired of not being around my stuff because he always wanted to be at his place and no longer wanted to be known as the “girlfriend who paid for everything.” I felt guilty for having premarital sex, and I felt if we planned to stay together forever, then we should just get married. I told him this for a few months, and on our ski vacation, he finally proposed. I had been a nurse for a year, and he had just graduated with his bachelor’s degree in business.
We got married in September 2004. Around that time, he decided that his new job was too much stress, and I supported his decision to quit. He went to work for his dad, and we decided to buy the house he grew up in and remodel it to make it our own.
That first year was rough, though. At some point, he began to struggle with his addiction to OxyContin again, although I did not know it at the time. We fought a lot. I felt so used and neglected because I was working full time and was completely responsible for all the household duties, including cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, and mowing the lawn most times.
He didn’t take work very seriously. Some days, he wouldn’t go in, while other days, he worked minimal hours while still going out often with his friends. Sometimes, he didn’t come home at night, and I’d have no idea where he was. I desperately wanted his love and for him to take care of and look out for me. I was super clingy, which probably also pushed him away. He felt like I had turned into a clingy nag.
I can’t remember the exact timeline in that first year, but we got into a huge fight about his lack of effort in the relationship. He got so mad that he punched a hole in the hallway wall. I went and put my hands on his shoulders and told him to calm down. He pushed me out of the way, went to the front room, picked up a dumbbell, and threw it through the front windows.
This was the first act of violence that I had seen from him. It shook me to my core, but I wasn’t afraid he would hurt me; I was just astonished at the rage inside of him. We both called our parents at that time. He felt as though my mom only sided with me. From that point on, he did not trust her and manipulated me into seeing my family as biased. I didn’t confide in her or anyone in my family about our issues after that.
We had another fight where he cut three or four new blinds on the windows and damaged other parts of the house. This devastated me, as I had put so much time and money into fixing up our remodel. In both incidents, I never got an apology. We didn’t have the typical abuse cycle of remorse. He didn’t clean it up or fix any of it – I did. I was mad, and when I brought it up, he blamed me for pushing him to that point.
He admitted eight months into our marriage that he had taken out a credit card and opened a PO box to support and hide his addiction, but he said he was out of control and claimed that he wanted to get clean. I was upset, but I was also glad he came to me. I wanted to help him “fix” it. He took four months to concentrate on getting clean without working or contributing in any way. He went to NA meetings, read books, and saw a counselor.
For the first few months, I was very supportive of his work to get clean. However, I was ready for him to be an active partner in the marriage. My needy, nagging ways started back up. He shirked responsibility for his choices and said I had pushed him into marriage. After letting resentment build towards me, he asked me to leave on our first wedding anniversary. Again, I was crushed. I wanted him to love me, to want me, to care for me. We separated for six weeks, and I missed him so much during this time.
After the six weeks had passed, we started talking again and discussed treating each other better and creating a plan for the future. He decided to go to medical school after I tried convincing him to enroll in nursing school. His vision was always to be on the top, to not answer to anyone, and be successful.
For the next two years, his returning to school with prerequisite requirements and acceptance to med school injected additional stress into our marriage, but we didn’t have conflict because of it. We seemed to be on the same page in life and once again friends, but I still never felt completely loved. After he was accepted to med school, we decided to start a family; I was the ripe old age of 28.
Our son changed everything for me. I felt loved by this little baby, and the love I had for him was indescribable. Admittedly, my energy focused more on our son, as did my husband’s. We both had so much love for him. While my husband never sacrificed anything inconvenient, he loved and spent time with our son, and they developed a very close bond. I felt we had the perfect family.
During his four years in medical school, I can remember two fights where he got violent. One time, he threw a table and another he shattered the mirror on our closet doors. Again, he offered no apologies, only blame. I was the one who cleaned them up and got them fixed. Overall, besides the stress and those two fights, those years were good.
We decided we wanted another child, and our daughter was born right before my husband entered his residency. Although we lived five hours away from family while he was in med school, moving 15 hours away for a five-year residency was heartbreaking. I had always envisioned my children growing up with their grandparents and cousins close by. We moved to the Southwest with a four-month-old and a four-year-old. It was a new place, we didn’t know anybody, and I was struggling with postpartum depression on top of all the changes.
For the first time in our 12-year relationship, he was the one making money, and I was a stay at home mom for 18 months. It was a hard transition. I felt no self-worth. I loved my kids so deeply but never felt I was good enough. No matter how much I poured in, I wanted to be better; I wanted to be more. My husband was overwhelmed by his residency and worked more than 80 hours in an awful environment. He voiced frustration that the house wasn’t always clean, the kids misbehaved, and that I wasn’t willing and ready for his every whim. I was told that I was lazy.
Despite our struggling marriage, we both felt our family wasn’t complete and wanted a third child. We tried for two years to get pregnant, but God knew better. I had gone back to work part-time, and that helped me some as I was able to get some validation from my job. Being a stay at home mom, especially with a narcissistic partner, is hard. I dealt with much depression from not getting pregnant with a third child and was sad knowing all our daughter’s “lasts” would be my lasts as well — no more baby.
My husband had started abusing his Adderall, continued to feed his addiction to porn, and wasn’t home much. When he was home, he was sleeping. I was always making excuses or breaking promises to the kids about him being involved or doing something with us. I was so lonely. I never had friends during our relationship as he was my friend.
I decided I needed to get in a better place mentally so I could be a better mom. I started working out and tried to regain a sense of self-worth. During that time, I made a friend to whom, over a few months, I poured out my heart and struggles. I even shared something from my teenage years that I hadn’t shared with anyone, including my husband. She was struggling, too, and we were trying to help each other. While she did help me gain confidence and motivation to get out of my depression, I should have turned to therapy to help me through the issues in our marriage and within me.
During this time, I was pulling away from my husband as his behavior and actions towards me were hurtful. I’ll never forget when he flipped on me, and I became fearful of him. Two weeks in a row, I had gone out with the girls, something I had never done. He demanded to know what was going on.
Over the next two weeks, he demanded to know every conversation or interaction I had ever had with my friend. He kept me up at night and interrogated me. He took my phone and downloaded all the voicemails and texts. We had security cameras, and he downloaded all the footage we had. For a few days, he even took possession of my phone. He told me that if I genuinely cared about him, I would cut off all the friendships I had made, not just the one I met at the gym. My friendship with her was an affair in his eyes. He wouldn’t commit to me if he thought it was physical, but he certainly said it was an emotional affair.
With all this abusive behavior going on, he was distraught and torn to pieces. I felt horrible and carried much guilt and remorse. I was also confused, however, because I hadn’t had an affair. I wasn’t seeking a sexual relationship, but I had shared and confided secrets with her. I didn’t know if what I had done was that bad, but I knew I had hurt my husband to his core, and the tears I cried over the next two years were out of genuine remorse for doing anything to hurt him so badly.
To this day, I would go back and change what I shared and gone to a therapist instead. I’m not advising you to avoid sharing with friends but rather keep it at healthy levels, as your abuser will turn anything against you.
I did everything I could to win my husband back. During this time, I even contemplated suicide because I felt so worthless. He told me that “Suicide is the most selfish thing a parent can do to their child. If things are really that bad, they should take their kids out too.” This statement freaked me out. Who says that? At the time, while it freaked me out, I thought he had said it because he was trying to talk me out of even entertaining the idea of suicide. However, looking back, I believe he started entertaining these thoughts back then.
I allowed so much abuse based on guilt of what I had done or, rather, shared with my friend. He started abusing Adderall more and added alcohol to the mix. There were a few picture frames broken and tons of emotional abuse usually after the kids went to bed. They never saw the violence, only some arguments and many of my tears.
The first significant occurrence happened the first month after he turned on me. He threw a dining room chair through our backdoor window while the kids were swimming. Somehow, they were oblivious to it all. I called a neighbor to come escort them through the back fence to her house while I got everything cleaned up. I was shaking and upset. I still didn’t think he would hurt me, but my fear was elevated. My neighbor asked if I felt safe, and I told her I was okay and blamed myself for pushing him over the edge.
Two months later, we went on a cruise for my sister’s wedding. He always wanted me to get drunk, and I didn’t want to. I hated the way he acted when he was drinking. We got in a fight because he said I didn’t care about having fun with him. Our daughter was in the room asleep, but he got so mad at me that he tore the TV off the wall and threw it about two feet away from where I was standing; I was next to her.
I immediately picked her up and went to my parents’ cabin and had to confess what had been happening over the last few months and what had just gone on moments ago. Security came and noted the damage in the room, the things he threw overboard including my phone, which had four-months’ worth of pictures and videos that I hadn’t backed up; to this day, this still hurts me very deeply. They cut off his ability to purchase alcohol, but that’s all that really happened. He said I was turning him into a monster, and my guilt kicked in; I excused his behavior as the result of how I had hurt him.
My family was concerned with his behavior, but I assured them we were working on it and that it was only because of the alcohol that it had gone that far. Things were very rough, but nothing major happened until a year later. We had taken the kids to a hotel about a half-hour away for a staycation for the 4th of July.
He had been drinking that night, and I mentioned something about it. He stormed out from the pool area and didn’t talk to me again until I had gotten the kids to sleep and was going to sleep myself. Then he started talking about how miserable he wanted me to be and how he wanted me to be all alone on a deserted island. I went to the bathroom, so the kids wouldn’t wake up. I asked him repeatedly to leave me alone.
When he wouldn’t stop, I attempted to record what he was saying to me as he would often deny things he had said. When he saw this, his anger escalated. He grabbed my purse and emptied the contents on the ground, and then he took my phone, my wallet, and the keys to the car and left me there with the kids. The next day, we were supposed to take the kids to the hotel water park, but I had to make up an excuse that he was sick and didn’t realize he left us there without a car or phone. I took the kids to the water park, and the hotel allowed me to charge a taxi to the room to get home. Unfortunately, both kids had to ride back without their car seats. I was furious, but again, there was no apology, only blame.
It was at this point that I knew I could not sustain this relationship. I felt like I owed it to him to stay until he finished his residency. I knew if I left before then, he wouldn’t complete it, and I didn’t want all his hard work to be in vain. If he could graduate and be on his own, he wouldn’t need me. He warned me if I left that nobody would ever want me because I would be pushing 40 with two kids, and everyone would want him because he was a surgeon. I didn’t care at this point if I was alone for the rest of my life; I just wanted peace.
Nothing significant happened for a few months, but I decided I needed to go talk to a professional. After three or four visits, she advised me to leave and, if we were planning on moving back home, to go ahead and do so, as I was in an unsafe environment, and it would get worse. I didn’t want to further destabilize the children’s lives with school and an impending move already coming. I knew they needed stability. That’s when I finally turned it over to God. I decided to quit fighting back, not let him get to me, and just be the best wife I could be.
When we moved back, his stress and abuse of Adderall had increased drastically. We got a big, beautiful house, and I was doing all the leg work to get it financed. He was so difficult about everything, and the emotional abuse and his expectations were not practical. I was so frustrated one afternoon when he wouldn’t sign some paperwork for the house that he was sitting in the bed, and I hit the top of his foot that was under the comforter. I should not have hit him and am not making excuses for it. After that, all he said was that I was the abuser, that he had never physically hit me, and it had really affected him.
The next day we were all in the elevator, and our children were fighting over pushing the buttons. Our son pushed the button, and I told him that it was his sister’s turn. My husband looked at me and asked, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” I felt like I had to prove something to him, so I squeezed our son’s arm and said, “I told you not to do that.” He started to cry because I had squeezed it hard – the guilt I had and still have for that. I let my emotions for my husband dictate my actions toward my child. I asked my son to forgive me for reacting that way, but I still felt horrible. After that, my husband would call me a domestic abuser and a child abuser.
He had also taken his test and went out many nights to strip clubs and hotels, spending thousands of dollars all while texting me threatening, heartless messages. This was finally it. Despite my still feeling that I needed to maintain stability for the kids, I couldn’t do it anymore. I had finally reached the point where I was having a hard time controlling my actions. The emotional abuse was escalating at an exponential rate, and while I desperately wanted to get this new house that the kids were also so excited about, I just couldn’t do it.
I told him that if he didn’t stop drinking, I was leaving. We got in a fight, and he headed to the bar, so I took the kids and left. I was afraid of him hurting me then. I was fearful enough that I had taken his pistol and put it in my dad’s gun safe. I still hoped by leaving that this would be the wake-up call he needed.
I didn’t file any legal paperwork when I left. To my surprise, he was mature when we told the kids that we would not be getting the new house and would be living in separate homes. We blamed the distance between our homes on the fact that I couldn’t find a job nearby. I didn’t feel safe living close to my husband, away from my family. Even then, I still didn’t give my fear the full attention it deserved. I thought he would just try to make my life miserable by letting air out of my tires, turning off my water, or whatever else he could to make life hard. He had the kids on the weekend, and I had them during the week.
He texted me so many mean messages about how I had screwed the kids up by leaving, and he looked forward to me seeing how damaged our son would be as an adult, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Once we moved back home, there was a disconnect between him and the kids. He still put on a front of being a good dad for them, but he no longer cared about their safety or well-being. All he could see was how I had screwed them up. I started getting fearful that he may live up to that statement he had made about suicide and killing the kids, too. I tried to push those thoughts away by convincing myself I was being too emotional.
After being separated for over two months and he had been working for a month, he called me sobbing, saying he was out of control and wanted his family back; he wanted to get clean. I immediately went back to him for several reasons. First, I felt very sorry for him. I thought that this was the break I had been waiting for, that he’s seen the light and things will get better. Also, I had initially told him if I ever separated from him, I would live nearby so the kids would be close to him.
However, as my fear increased, I couldn’t hold up to that. He had said I was a liar and don’t live up to my promises. I had told him that if he quit drinking, I would be with him to work out our problems. He said he wanted to quit, and I was expected to uphold my agreement, regardless of what happened over the two months.
The next day he was drug tested, and the results were positive, so he lost his job and was turned into the medical board. He moved out of the house he had rented, and he moved into mine. This was when he went into a deep depression, sleeping 18-20 hours a day. I was back in “fix” mode, but he was in deep. I tried to be positive and help him any way I knew how, but he was resistant to everything.
Toward the end of the month, before he had technically lost his job, he wouldn’t respond to their attempts to reach out to him. I was fearful he was making his road even harder. I knew he was supposed to go meet with them that afternoon, but he refused to get up. They called his phone, and I answered. I told them he wasn’t ignoring them but was really depressed from dealing with all of this, and if they could give him a grace period, he would get back to them. I was a real enabler of his behavior.
I went to the bedroom and told him what I had said. He said that it was okay, and I was surprised that it went better than I had anticipated. About 15 minutes later, he came out in a fit of rage. He threw several of the kids’ picture frames and a dining room chair, shattering it, all while yelling at me that I had no right to do that. My fear heightened as this time, and I tried to talk myself out of it. I asked him later if he was feeling suicidal, and he told me that he wasn’t, that I was just projecting how I would be reacting in that situation.
He started going out again, not telling me where he was going and shutting the kids out. I knew things were bad, and I begged him to get help. We had another fight while the kids were awake. I went to the bedroom to get away from him talking and to get ready for work. I locked the bedroom and the bathroom doors behind me. He kicked them in to find me in the shower pulling the shower curtain down. I felt so vulnerable and angry at that moment.
Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t make him leave. I felt sorry for him and didn’t want to do the yo-yo things with the kids. The last week he had gotten up to go to our son’s birthday party and do iFly with us, so I was hoping maybe he was getting to a better place.
The day before it happened, he said he was going to the dealership to get another set of keys for his car. He was gone all day, which I thought was strange. I texted him at 530 pm and told him our son and I were going to my parents’ house to help decorate for Christmas while our daughter attended a school function, and I asked if he’d like to join. He said no. When we got home, he told me, “I don’t think we were ever meant to be together.” Later, I would learn from a police report that he had purchased a shotgun.
I was taken aback and knew it was going to be a big conversation. I put the children to bed so we could talk. To my relief, once the kids were asleep, he didn’t pursue a conversation about it. I knew he was up all night in bed next to me. At 2 am, I almost rolled over and asked if he was abusing his adderall again, but I decided that would not lead to a good place, so I just went back to sleep.
—— Trigger warning: the following section briefly describes the events that occurred on the morning Rachel’s husband murdered their children and took his life. Readers are advised to exercise caution in their choice to continue reading. ——
Our son and I were going to run a 5K together that morning while my husband watched out daughter. Because he struggled with anxiety at bedtime, our son slept on a mattress in our room. When my alarm went off, my husband immediately went and picked up our son and put him in our bed before going to the bathroom. He was acting strangely, so I got up and followed him in there.
I caught him taking a handful of Adderall, and when I asked him what was going on, he said I had just startled him. He then went into our room, picked up our son, and carried him into our daughter’s room. At this point, my heart is pounding because it didn’t feel right. I knew something was off.
As he started to close the bedroom door behind him, I grabbed his hand and said, “Please, come out here and talk to me! what is going on?” He took three steps out, pushed me back down the hallway, and said: “No, I will not talk to you!” He shut the door behind him, and I tried to get in but couldn’t. He had wedged a baseball bat between the door and our daughter’s bed.
I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. Inside, I knew it was terrible, but I didn’t think it would be anything immediate. So I called out to our son, “Come on, baby! We are late for the 5K, and we have to go now…”
And then I heard three rapid gunshots. I yelled at my husband, “Please, no, I’ll do anything!”
I went to find the phone and call 911. At some point, he came out of the room and shot himself in our bedroom, leaving me to see the kids when I was asked if they had a pulse. I have always believed that he did this so I would see the children and endure further pain.
Twelve hours later, I received an email that he had sent by delayed delivery, saying that I had been the one who had changed. He said that I had become a better person, but in doing so, I had moved away from him and towards God, and it was his own fault that he was so dependent on me. He then went into how pathetic his life had become and how he didn’t see much hope of repair, and I was blamed for not being more compassionate towards him. His last line was, “There is something to be said when someone is provoked on purpose.”
That’s my story and why I am speaking up and out. I want awareness of this behavior. I want those living it to be set free and to have the support of those around them. I want the family court to help victims when they have gotten brave enough to get out. I want an end to the confusion of abuse. Abuse is abuse; there are no excuses. There should be no judgment from those on the outside who think victims should ‘just get out’ as there are so many reasons that play into why victims don’t leave. Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time.
I believe that my life was spared to help others living in domestic abuse. I don’t believe it’s our place to go about bad-talking or calling names but to bring awareness and love to those who have been deprived of it. I don’t want anyone to hate his. He struggled, but he lashed out. It’s not about hate or anger, although I am still working through my anger; it’s about accountability and it not being okay. If those inflicting abuse don’t get help and truly seek change, we must step away towards light and love to heal.
*If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page. For crisis services, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
What’s YOUR Raw Truth?
There is no way to measure the grief that surviving family and friends feel after losing loved ones to domestic violence. Those left behind – whether they are the victim’s family and friends or a survivor who endures the loss of children, family, or friends at the hand of the their abuser – often share their stories as a way to process grief and heal, honor their loved ones’ lives and memories, and help others facing similar situations feel less alone.
If you are inspired to share a story and photos of an angel you lost to domestic violence with us, submit here. You can choose to remain anonymous.
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Submitted By: Hailey, sister of Lindsey
The presence of firearms in a domestic violence situation dramatically increases risk of fatality. The American Journal of Public Health published research showing that a firearm in possession of the abuser increases risk of death by 500%. Additionally, guns are used by abusers to murder women in over half of domestic violence homicides.
Hailey is the sister of a woman who was shot to death by her fiancé as her eight-year-old daughter slept in the next room. She shares with us about the end of her sister’s life and how this loss has impacted her, her niece, and those who loved her.
On December 8, 2016, my sister Lindsey was shot and killed by her fiancé. He and the girl he was having an affair with carefully planned her murder for several weeks before going through with it. Together, they plotted to take my sister’s life – for what, I will never know and can never understand.
He shot her in the head and took his time disposing of both the guns he brought with him that night. Afterward, he staged the scene, trying to make it appear as though the gunshot was self-inflicted. He changed his clothes and made sure Lindsey was dead before going to the next room to check if her eight-year-old girl was still sleeping soundly.
Once her fiancé finished cleaning up, he made a frantic phone call to 911 stating that his girlfriend had shot herself. The police and EMTs arrived within minutes of the call. All the while, her daughter still laid asleep in the next room. Police on the scene realized there were signs of a struggle in the bedroom where my sister laid dead. They noticed there was no gun next to her and observed that her fiancé was exhibiting strange behavior.
When my sister was pronounced dead, and the scene had finally been cleared, they allowed him to go back into the house to pick up her daughter and carry her out to my mom. They did not want him to be alarmed that he was a suspect and run.
My niece is forever broken. Her heart and love will never be the same without her mom. Lindsey is missed dearly every single day. Her love is irreplaceable because she filled everyone’s heart with so much joy and happiness. She made an impact on peoples’ lives, and we will carry her with us in our hearts for the remainder of our years.
His heartless actions to pull the trigger that night and take a beautiful soul will haunt me for the rest of my life. He, however, has to live every day behind bars and think about what he has done. Lindsey will never be forgotten, and everyone that loves her will continue to keep her spirit and story alive.
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
What’s YOUR Raw Truth?
Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, complete the form below. You can choose to remain anonymous.
Written By: A cousin, in memory of Chloe
Domestic violence is not selective to race, gender, or cultural ethnicity. It is not discerning to the rich or poor. Domestic violence became a nightmare turned reality for our family in March in a Kentucky town.
The evening before her death, my 20-year-old cousin was frantically searching for her son after her estranged husband threatened to kidnap him and leave the country. He provoked her with several text messages, phone calls, and live streams on social media telling her she would never see him again.
On the morning of March 23rd, he sent her a message telling her she could come to pick up her son. Her ex told her not to bring any family, or he would not give their son to her. She went to his apartment not knowing that she would never leave alive. Her last text message was to her father letting him know where she was headed and to text, but not call if he needed anything.
Hours went by, and my uncle had not heard from her. Something was not right; no one else had seen or heard from her either. Our worst fears were confirmed later that evening when her estranged husband was found with their son several states away, and rumors were spreading that he had told his family members he had killed his wife. My uncle, aunt, and cousin’s brother waited outside the apartment for hours praying they were wrong.
My cousin was found stuffed in the closet of an air-conditioning unit. She thought she was picking her son up to bring him to safety and was brutally murdered instead. He hit her head with a hammer when she wasn’t looking and continued beating her as she fought him. When the hammer didn’t kill her, he took her final breath with a knife to her throat.
March 23rd is the day my cousin became a statistic of domestic violence. It is a day that will haunt her family and friends for the rest of our lives. Twenty years old is too young to die. Her dad will never talk to his baby girl again. Her stepmother and three brothers will not see her walk through the door or hear her laugh.
She won’t get to see her son take his first steps, graduate from high school, get married, or ever hold her grandbabies. She was robbed of her life and so many memories. Her son will grow up without either of his parents and will one day ask questions about what happened.
This is a reality no family should have to face, a beautiful life extinguished at the hands of an abuser. Domestic violence is real, and it exists behind the walls of homes across the world. Physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial control are all considered abuse. According to domesticviolencestatistics.org, “A woman is assaulted or beaten in the US every nine seconds” and “Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.”
Our family wants society to know that it should not and does not have to be this way. There is a way out, and, although the road may seem impossible, it is not. The grief and heartache we face each day are preventable, and we do not want to see anyone else go through this pain.
We hope that by sharing my cousin’s story, we can shine a light on domestic violence prevention. We are working to provide a safe place for those who are affected by abuse. Please help us get the word out that every life matters and understand you are not alone in this.
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
What’s YOUR Raw Truth?
Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, complete the form below. You can choose to remain anonymous.