Family Violence: It can happen to anyone

Heart_of_Broken_Glass_by_tallasx“It is unacceptable to think that one—that is one in three women — are affected by violence at some point in their lives. Violence against women is devastating not only to victims, but to everyone around them as well. It destroys and impoverishes families, and it impacts communities at large. But we can help them by— working to ensure that women everywhere have access to the justice and support they deserve.”  ~ Reese Witherspoon

The McGuire Memorial Conference on Family Violence commemorated the homicide of Dr. Isabel McGuire and her two young daughters, Katherine and Jennifer. Dr. McGuire’s abusive second husband killed all three and subsequently killed himself. These crimes deeply affected the Billings medical and professional community—my husband and I among them. Approximately five months after the tragedy, her former husband, Dr. Brian McGuire, and a number of community professionals organized the first conference. It took tremendous strength for him to share his story, to go on living, to continue contributing. I share his story, my family’s stories, my friends’ stories, and my stories of violence, of death, of illness, of loss, and of abandonment to demonstrate the need to dig deep within yourself to understand that you must change your attitude if you are going to move forward and not merely survive.

Deeply moved by Dr. McGuire’s story, I approached him on a break after his speech. I told him how much his story had affected me.

He responded with tears in his eyes, and I paraphrase: “You know, Lorna, I have not been able to allow myself to have other children.”

We sat briefly in silence. Then I left. Memories of the day I learned about Dr. McGuire’s former wife and children flashed before me. I was sitting at the kitchen table with my cup of coffee reading the Billings Gazette. My children were sleeping; the house was still and quiet. After reading the article, I sat numb in disbelief. Silence. Silence. Silence is what I remember. Tears welled up in my eyes just as they did the day I sat listening to Dr. Brian McGuire. I imagine, tears well in Dr. McGuire’s eyes every day.

I tell McGuire’s story because of his courage and because domestic violence has touched my life personally.  Sadly, many will face domestic violence. Some will speak out. Others will continue to ignore the signs.  Some will remain uneducated regarding domestic violence. Domestic violence is a crime.  It is  defined as a pattern of abusive tactics that can include psychological, emotional, social, financial, physical and sexual abuse, perpetrated by a family or household member, spouse, partner or significant other, with the goal of establish or maintaining  power and control over the victim. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any age.

Warning Signs

  • Verbal Abuse: The abuser puts down the victim by calling her names, constantly criticizing her or him, provoking public or private humiliation, or a making her feel crazy.
  • Physical Injuries: Bruises, broken bones, …
  • Violent Temper: The abuser threatens to hurt the victim or the children or pets or other family members or friends.
  • Controlling Behavior: The abuser constantly checks up on the victim. Phone calls, driving by work place or school, listening in on phone calls, checking email and social networks. Has complete control over finances.
  • Extreme Jealousy: The abusers acts overly possessive or jealous and oftentimes accuses her of him of flirting or affairs.
  • Isolation: The abusers keeps her or him from certain friends and family members. The abuser keeps her away from work or school.
  • Emotional Changes: The victim seems to be on edge or fearful, or becomes quiet when the partner is around.
  • Behavior of the Children: The children of an abused victim oftentimes get in trouble at school or are quiet and withdrawn. Some are experts at secret keepers and display no signs.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-3224 (TTY)

National Sexual Assault Hotline

1-800-656-HOPE or 1-800-656-4673

National Center for Victims of Crimes

1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-42255) or 1-800-211-7996


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