On a morning in the spring of 2013, my sister and I, age 13 and 16, were called into the living room by our parents for something we sensed was serious. My aunt, my dad’s sister, had just been killed by her estranged husband. Somehow, even worse still, it happened in front of and in the home of my other aunt and 13-year-old cousin.
My Aunt Amy had made the three-day drive from where she lived in the Midwest to us on the West Coast twice to escape her abuser, and had only just been able to start the proceedings for divorce before this occurred. She moved in with her sister and niece, and life was starting fresh for her. Until her husband showed up that morning, forcing his way in with a gun, and shot her in front of the family before turning the gun on himself. He survived — she didn’t. The court case dragged on and on, leaving the family without a sense of closure for many years. Amy was the gentlest a person could be; she raised all types of animals and worked in nursing homes. And none of ever knew she was being abused until it was too late.