On June 11, 2003, my sister was murdered. The lives of many people close to my sister were changed that day, including my own. Her life was taken by her ex-spouse, the father of her two children. It is unquestionably the worst day of my life.
She died a violent death at the hands of an abusive person that she once had a relationship with. What I didn’t know at the time, but learned in the days and weeks that followed, was that my sister had been living in a violent and abusive relationship for many years.
He moved her far away from us where she was isolated from friends and family. I learned that she lived under constant threat of physical and verbal abuse. Her children grew up surrounded by violence. They lived in fear and were taught to be silent.
Although most of her friends and family suspected all was not well, none of us knew the extent of the abuse. Some of us had urged her to leave him, and she eventually did, but he followed her and continued to torment her.
My sister thought she could handle it on her own. On the fateful day, after her children left for school, he forced himself into her home. The signs of a violent struggle where evident. He beat her and strangled her to death. He attempted to take his own life, but failed and is now in prison.
Why didn’t any of us see how bad things were? Why didn’t she tell someone? Why wouldn’t she reach out for help?
I often wonder how different things would be if my sister would have reached out to her friends or family, or if she knew where and how she could get help.
I wasn’t aware that there were shelters for women where they could safely go for help and comfort, for themselves and their children. I don’t believe my sister knew either. She didn’t know where or how to get help – help to protect her and her children. She was a smart person and if she knew where to turn for assistance, she would have.
She is safe now and I miss her.