Over the last weeks, my hometown has had two incredibly sad instances of domestic violence. Working in an urban setting, teachers are always aware of the nasty underbelly of society. Certainly I have had students who have been impacted by domestic violence, but that was in the city. Not in my neat little suburban, monied hometown.
In the first instance, a man shot his wife during an argument and then turned the gun on himself. The woman lingered for a day and then died. At least two high school age children were at home at the time of the shooting and a third arrived home shortly after. Now three children are without a mother or a father, who is in custody pending trial.
Last week, a father shot and killed his 17 year old high school senior daughter, shot his wife, and then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself. By all accounts, this girl had a wonderfully bright future ahead of her; she had just been accepted to UVM. While the reasons for the shootings have not fully been revealed, the reality is that they happened. And they happened right here in the cozy suburbs.
No one seems to have seen this coming. There had been a 911 call hangup and, following protocol, the dispatcher called the home back. The daughter indicated that all was okay and no police assistance needed. However, even as the dispatcher was talking with the daughter on the telephone, her father began using his gun on the family. Another family is destroyed by violence.
Even though I did not know this family, or the other family affected by domestic violence, I feel an overwhelming sadness. Sadness for the families who must try to pick up the threads of their lives and continue to live. Sadness for a mother who, if she regains cognition and awareness, will now live with unimaginable grief, sadness for classmates who have lost a great friend to senseless violence.
Such incredible sadness to this story and the story of the other family in town destroyed within the last two weeks by violence. And it happened here in the safe, secure, suburbs. Were there warning signals that weren’t picked up because of our affluence?
Domestic violence is all around us. Lulling ourselves into feeling complacent because of affluence is no longer an option.