Sunday, December 24, 2017

A terrible tragedy, and an important message for all women (and the men who care about them)

This is a hard post to write, but it has to be done since it contains a very important message for all women (and the men who care about them).  Please read it all the way to the end.
This week, an unimaginable tragedy happened in our community. A mother of four got killed by her boyfriend in her house, and after he yelled at her children to run, otherwise he'd kill them, too, he then shot himself. The kids fled to their neighbors' house, where they stayed for a few days until Child Protective Services sorted out their future.

One of the kids is in my daughter's class, and I felt very strongly about wanting to support the children who lost their mother and their temporary caregivers, the neighbors, who had witnessed the guy's suicide. I spent time with them all for a couple of days, and I was there when the kids were told that after the holidays, they had to move away to live with a relative they didn't know.

Although from a bigger perspective, this was wonderful news because they were able to stay together and be raised by a blood relative, the kids were initially devastated.

It was heart wrenching. I held the girls while they raged, wailed, wept and shook. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I'm glad I was there to hold space for them.

Read on.  There are some important things I need to say.  Below are pictures I took on a walk while all of this unfolded, because the place I go to when things are hard is nature.




Our community has stepped up and rallied around these orphans in a big way.  After people learned about the tragedy, they raised thousands of dollars in two days, organized meals, and collected bags and bags of toys.

I was there when a truckload of toys got delivered.  No, presents cannot replace the mother they lost, nor can they take away the trauma they've been through.  But they did distract the kids from their grief, and they brought them joy, excitement and laughter.

I will never forget holding the bike seat and running alongside one of the girls, as she tried out the brand new bike that just got delivered.  She never learned how to ride a bike, but she got pretty close that day with me huffing and puffing beside her, hiding my tears from her as she whooped with joy.




Many years ago, I worked at a shelter for abused women and children.  There, I was the women's and children's advocate and also did outreach in the community to educate people about domestic violence.

If you or someone you know are affected by domestic violence, I want you to know that you are not alone.  Please don't isolate yourself.  If you know in your gut that things are wrong in your relationship, if you fear for your safety and mental health, please reach out to people who understand and can help you.

Here is the website for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), where you can find out everything you need to know and get valuable resources.


If you are in crisis, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or www.TheHotline.org. 




Here is more info from the NCADV website:

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? 

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.

DID YOU KNOW? 

• In the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

• 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.

• 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked. Stalking causes the target to fear she/he or someone close to her/him will be harmed or killed.

• On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls. 

• The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

• Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.

• Intimate partner violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24.

• 19% of intimate partner violence involves a weapon.

WHY IT MATTERS 

Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior as part of a much larger, systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

SEXUAL ASSAULT 

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States is raped during his/her lifetime.

• 9.4% of women in the United States have been raped by an intimate partner.  

STALKING 

• 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked.

• 66.2% of female stalking victims reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner.

HOMICIDE 

• 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

• A study of intimate partner homicides found 20% of victims were family members or friends of the abused partner, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.

• 72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.

• 94% of murder-suicide victims are female.





When I worked at the shelter, I listened to hundreds of stories of women who finally got up the courage to leave their abusive relationships.  Many of them told me that they did it because of their kids.  They didn't want their kids to witness any more of the abuse, or be abused themselves, or worse.  So they left.

I know it can be so unbelievably hard and complicated to leave someone who abuses you.  There are all kinds of reasons: financial, emotional, religious...

But I want you to know this: you deserve a better life.  Your kids deserve a better life.  You are not alone.

The Skagit Valley has its own resource: Skagit DVSAS is committed to eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault in our community. They provide direct advocacy-based counseling, legal assistance, emergency shelter, support during medical exams, adult and teen support groups, and extensive education and prevention programs throughout the county.
All services to survivors and their family and friends are free and confidential. To learn more, call them at 1-888-336-9591.


And if you are a man who is abusive, you can get help, too.  Go here to find out more: 





To make matters worse, more death happened this week. I lost one of my dear friends, adding to the count of people I have lost to cancer this year alone.  As I spent time decompressing from all the death that's happening around me, I turn to nature for comfort.

I turn to gratitude, amplifying what's good.  The beautiful mountains, the serene river, the gorgeous sunset, the sun slanting through trees.

The outpouring of love from a devastated community.

The weight of my dogs on my lap, the twinkling of the Christmas lights, the a loving glance from my husband, watching my son skip rocks in the river...

So, dear ones... On this note, I wish you a peaceful holiday season.  I wish you the feeling of being loved and safe.  I wish you the courage to be strong.




9 comments:

  1. I want to tell you that I am so grateful for your strength of holding those precious children during such a horrific time. Thanks for sharing this message. I will hold vigil and honor for the mama and all who are facing this difficult challenge in meaningful ways throughout this time. Sending you love and support to you and your family. Thank you for all you do Corina. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Corina, thanks for sharing this heart-breaking but ultimately very uplifting story. May the children continue to feel support and love from all around and may they find a good home to thrive. Thank you for your brave heart, Corina! You are awesome. Peace and Joy to your and your loved ones during this Holiday Season. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, dear. Peace and joy to you as well.

      Delete
  3. What a sad story for a man that completely lost his equilibrium to the point he couldn't control himself. But he had a shred of something left in his moment of darkness to tell his children to run. Why couldn't that little shred inform him that he was the one who needed to run?! Alas. Now his children who he held as precious will be scarred forever. Hopefully what you all did will offset the tragedy. I would have not been able to accept presents. I would have been too devastated. I just keep thinking how can this all be avoided? Thanks for publishing all the help lines. Peace now and I hope it lasts a while.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like there is so much that needs to be done in that regard: domestic violence, violence against women and children... Where to start? I'm sitting with this at the moment to feel into where I can help most...

      Delete
  4. A heartwrenching story indeed.
    It is the season not only for merriness and joy, but unfortunately also for misery and tragedy. A focal point/period for domestic violence, sadness and loneliness. Learned that both privately and professionaly.
    Judging a man like in this case is easy. He shouldn't have... Question that is overstepped is the "why" and could it have been avoided how?
    Throwing money at such a tragedy is easy. Buyng a toy is easy. But who will be standing with those kids in a few weeks or six months when the numbness lifts and loneliness sinks in? When all those toys mean nothing anymore? When all the distractions are gone? That is when they really need someone. There are scores of people caring for and grieving with them now, but what when their story fades from the news?
    I really do hope that they will not just become a statistic, but that the community will keep on caring for them, even then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly what I'm worried about... What will happen to these kids a few weeks down the road? I am very concerned about them, their mental health and the effects of Post Dramatic Stress Disorder. I am going to brainstorm with our local health professionals and schools to see what resources are available...

      Delete
  5. Awesome,
    Thank you so much for sharing such an awesome blog...
    cold storage of agriculture products

    ReplyDelete

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