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A time to reflect on domestic violence

I’ve been told my mother had a big personality. My family is never short on stories that describe Mom as adventurous, outgoing, resourceful, loving, and very vocal of her beliefs. Unfortunately, I can never say I knew her this way. For every story that is added to the beautiful and undoubtedly tumultuous story of my mother’s life, my task of understanding her legacy seems more impossible to complete.

Oct. 26 marks 16 years since my mother was killed by her estranged husband, my father, when I was only 4 years old.

This single event has shaped me more than anything. Every facet of my life has been undeniably linked to this loss, from the obvious to ways I still do not fully appreciate.

When I am asked how my parents are, I immediately think of my aunt, the woman who chose to raise me without a moment’s hesitation. When I look at my last name, it is not my given name, rather a chosen reflection of my mother and her family. Regular events — band concerts, school plays, football games, high-school dances, family vacations, and holidays — come and go with full knowledge important people have been missing. I follow and scrutinize the criminal legal system and our lawmakers unlike many others of my age. I look at the loss of a loved one from a completely different perspective. I look at myself and see someone who has it much better off than others who experienced this pain. I look at my father and still have not decided what I think.

October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My story is far from an uncommon one. The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates 15.5 million children live in homes where they witness and live under the threat of domestic violence and abuse. The National Coalition reports that one-third of female homicides stems from domestic violence. Statistics show that one man and over three women are killed every day in this country by an intimate partner. Chronically underreported, and more often ill-understood, domestic violence leaves an impact that survives decades.

Whether it takes the shape of domestic homicide, physical abuse, or emotional neglect, take a moment this next month to reflect upon those affected. For me, this time of year has no reason to be pleasant or enjoyed, yet I still take comfort knowing that I have the resources and support system that has done more than could be asked for 16 years and I know many more to come.

Storm Miller
UI Junior

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