When I received the barrage of notifications from all the news outlets that alert me to breaking stories that there’d been a shooting at a school in San Bernardino Monday morning, I cringed. Just like I always do when I hear of these things, I stopped and prayed that there were no deaths, no injuries. When details began to emerge and we initially learned that two people had died, almost instinctively, I knew domestic violence was involved. I just knew it. Even though it had taken place at an elementary school, I just knew.
What we’ve learned is that the shooter, 53-year old Cedric Anderson, walked into his estranged wife’s classroom and shot her. We’re told that he didn’t say a word when he shot 53-year old Karen Smith. He reportedly had a criminal past. Some of the women in his past had applied for restraining orders. This man was clearly dangerous. He had been charged with crimes against public peace in 2013. That charge was either dismissed or not prosecuted.
Then on April 10, 2017, he chose to take the life of the woman he proclaimed to love. Within minutes, he took his own life. An innocent little boy also died as the result of this man’s actions. Another boy is in the hospital recovering from the injuries he sustained during the chaotic madness. There was a total of 15 children in that classroom, but I think it’s safe to say that not one person in the entire school on Monday will ever be the same.
This story is an example of the ultimate filth of domestic violence. This couple had only been married a few months, but she saw fit to leave him. She did what many women do — she left. It’s clear, though, that leaving wasn’t enough. I don’t know yet if she had a restraining order on record against him or not; I don’t know that it would have mattered. The school said he had been allowed in because he was her spouse so if one had been in place, I’m sure someone would have at the very least tried to stop him.
Just Another Tragedy?
I hope no one considers this to be just another tragedy. It’s not. Karen’s family is preparing for her funeral. She was only 53 years so I’m sure she had not done all the things she wanted to do in this life. Domestic violence doesn’t care about your wishes.
We, as survivors, have to tell our stories because there’s a woman out there who needs to see and know that what she’s going through is NOT normal. She needs to understand that love does not hurt. She won’t fully get that fact if we, the women and men who have made it through that living hell, don’t share just how we did it.
You, as a domestic violence/abuse prevention advocate, are responsible for reaching out to any person you know or suspect is being abused. There are signs. Most abuse victims hide their situation like it’s a treasure. It’s no treasure. It’s fear. It’s shame. It’s embarrassment.
If YOU are being abused, get help. Are you questioning whether what’s going on is really abuse? Take a look at this. You deserve better. There is a better life out there. You can escape. I almost lost my life on July 21, 2009. I was 41 years old. Not from physical abuse, but from the stress and strain that had become so overwhelming that my brain started to bleed. I have a close friend who suffered a heart attack because of the mental and emotional abuse she suffered. She was not yet 40.
The wounds sustained in domestic violence/abuse cases are both visible and invisible, but both kinds run deep. Understand that in the case of mental, emotional, verbal, and financial abuse, the wounds are not visible, but in cases of physical abuse, almost all of them — visible and invisible — are present.
Do your part in preventing this crap. We don’t need anymore Karen Smiths. We don’t want another Cedric Anderson to assume the role of creator and judge. Help those that are suffering. Help yourself.