Column

Oliver: We all must do our part to combat domestic violence

Joan Oliver
Joan Oliver

For those of us who have been touched by domestic violence, each incident we hear about causes more pain. It reminds us of those we have lost, and it reminds us that someone else is going through a similar heartbreak.

I’ve lost at least two friends to domestic violence, both murdered at the hands of their former partners. My friend Marie was murdered by a high school ex-boyfriend when we were students at Northwestern University. My friend Lucy, who I met when I was an intern at the Kansas City Star, was shot to death by her ex-husband years after we had worked together.

I’ve also known additional women who have survived abuse at the hands of their spouses. In many ways, they are lucky to still be here. Their stories about what was done to them have affected me deeply.

So October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, holds painful meaning for me.

It does also for those affiliated with Turning Point of McHenry County, the county’s nonprofit organization that aims to help victims of domestic violence, as well as to counsel those who commit abuse to turn things around.

Tonight, Turning Point, in conjunction with the Child Advocacy Center, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Huntley Police Department, is putting on its annual candlelight vigil in the Woodstock Square.

The event, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., will honor victims of domestic violence. This year there will be a special focus on how domestic violence affects children.

It will include music, firsthand accounts of domestic violence from victims, as well as from their support networks. There also will be a moment of silence to honor those who have been lost to domestic violence.

A recent case in Joliet, which was reported on by our sister paper in Joliet, The Herald-News, drives home for me the horrific toll that domestic violence can have on children.

On Sept. 21, Christopher Michael Miller, 35, who was estranged from his wife, Cassandra Tanner-Miller, 32, forced his way into their home in Joliet and viciously beat her.

After beating his wife, he attacked their 9-year-old daughter and then shot their 18-month-old son nine times before he shot himself.

Miller and his son did not survive. Tanner-Miller and their daughter did.

It’s hard to imagine such a traumatic event happening to anyone, much less to a 9-year-old. Her final moments with her father were of unspeakable violence. She lost her little brother and her father in a single, horrible attack. It’s something that she will have to live with for the rest of her life, something that she did not choose.

Yes, this is an extreme case, but there are countless children, even here in McHenry County, who live in homes where domestic abuse is a frequent occurrence. These children live in fear for themselves, in fear for their siblings and in fear for the adult victims of domestic violence who live with them.

The effects of trauma often can be hidden, but trauma leaves scars that can be carried into adulthood. The sooner these young ones can get help, the better.

That’s why it’s so important to support the work that Turning Point, the Child Advocacy Center and our law enforcement entities do to prevent and address domestic violence in the county.

Because violence has no place in anyone’s home.

• Joan Oliver is a former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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