Over thirty years ago I graduated from college and became a police officer with the St. Louis County Police Department. This small town farm boy was introduced to some realities of life that I had not previously known. It was especially true when I worked the evening or midnight shift. There were nights when one call after another was for a "domestic disturbance." People who had thought enough of one another at some point to date, live together, or even get married were now fighting intensely with one another.
The things I witnessed were shocking. Once in a while there was a little humor to be found in the mess, but most of the time it was just frightening. Once as I approached a house for a domestic disturbance call I could see through the picture window that a woman was heaving potted plants at her husband. No weapons were in sight. As I entered the scene both parties calmed down. As they each looked at the potting soil covering the floor from about ten potted plants being heaved at the man, they just sort of sighed. A little chuckle even came forth as they thought about the mess that needed to be cleaned up following their spat.
Unfortunately, the majority of the domestic disturbance calls were much more serious. Guns and knives were frequently part of the equation. Others were even more creative. One individual boiled a pot of water, added bleach to it, and then threw it on the sleeping companion. The ways we choose to hurt one another can be extreme.
It was seven years ago yesterday that Ashlin (pictured above) experienced the ultimate domestic violence. In my 17 years of ministry as a deacon I have presided at, or assisted with, numerous funeral rituals. Ashlin's has been the only memorial service that I have done for a victim of homicide. It was the most heart-breaking service that I have ever led. Ashlin wasn't just a newscast for me. Domestic violence had struck right into the heart of my family.
Two young toddlers lost both their parents on that day. The grief extended throughout the family at the time and still impacts us seven years later. Each milestone that passes with the kids leaves an aching thought. What would Ashlin think about this?
The world turned upside down on that day for many people. However, the resilience by Ashlin's mom and so many others around her demonstrates the power of love. I have no words for that kind of love except to say, "Thanks." Hate, anger, and violence have been overcome by your love. You have been a witness for all of us in regard to courage and fortitude. Keep up the good work.
Finally, I close by reminding all of my readers to seek help if you, or someone you love, are living in a volatile situation. Don't wait until it is too late. There are resources available to assist you regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Domestic violence is real and it can shatter lives in a heartbeat. Don't become part of an evening newscast. Seek help before the situation gets to that point.