Last Friday afternoon I was having a great day. I’d gotten a lot done, and I scored a free yogurt left over from a grants committee meeting. (That meeting closed with over $60,000 being awarded to non-profit organizations that focus on the emotional and physical health of women and girls.)
It was a good day.
Then shortly after 3:00 pm, a news report flashed across my computer screen. A couple in their 20s was shot in what appeared to be a murder-suicide at the Old Navy clothing store on Michigan Ave. in downtown Chicago.
My heart sank. I couldn’t help but imagine this young couple lying on the floor in contrast to the brightly lit store. I knew that by the time I saw the news report, a parent or sibling had already learned of the tragedy.
There are so many questions and no answers. Did they have a fight? How did he get a gun? What disagreement could have been so significant that it left him with no other option but murder? Did she try to break off the relationship? Nobody knows.
But what we do know is that if they were in a romantic relationship, there was likely other evidence, or warnings, that she was a victim of domestic violence. According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, in “70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.”
Had she confided to a friend about his temper? Did she feel that she could express her feelings about the relationship with her parents? Was there anybody who had witnessed the abuse prior to the shooting?
I am only slightly comforted by knowing that the organization that I work for is working to make a difference in the lives of women and girls, as are the large volunteer networks of women in this organization.
Elizabeth McBride is the editor of Café and director for intergenerational programs.