December 18, 2013

When Women Try To Leave



There are times in our lives when what we feel is just downright helpless. I imagine it's one of the hardest emotions to deal with. It brings up visions of hand-wringing and hair twisting and lip biting. 

I sat down here to write about decluttering the house during the holidays. But I'm one of those people who just can't turn the dial in the other direction when my mind wants to go down another path.




It is one week until Christmas. It has only been a few short weeks since Christine Keith, blogger of Adventures Of A Thrifty Momma, was killed along with her teenaged son, by her angry soon-to-be ex-husband, who then killed himself. 

Now orphaned are three young children, ages 8, 6 and 3, who, thankfully, were visiting relatives when the murder/suicide occurred.

I just can't stop thinking about the children left behind. Too young to understand why all this happened. And there is never going to be an answer for them.  




It didn't have to happen. It shouldn't have happened. It happens all the damned time.  



This is a time when we think of families gathering together and Christmas music playing and love spreading throughout the room. 

But for 25 percent of women in America, and 33 percent of women worldwide, domestic violence takes the upper hand.  In families where domestic violence is present, pregnancy and holidays are often times when women and their children experience more beatings and abuse. 

Here's a scary statistic: The third leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide. 

Another: Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship. 


(The Scene Of The Crime)

In her first divorce filing, as well as in the personal protection order, Christine Keith outlined what she said was her husband’s controlling, erratic and sometimes violent behavior. The couple were married in 2003, but just five years later they were filing for divorce.

Police were called to their Jackson-area home after Randy pushed Christine to the floor, knocking her unconscious briefly. 

Christine said they had fought over his refusal to watch the children.

In her petition for the personal protection order, Christine said that in 2011, they were living in a trailer in Webberville, and Randy was fired from his job and didn’t work for a year.

'I had to walk on eggshells not to trigger his abuse,' she wrote, noting that she had been diagnosed with depression and believed Randy also was depressed. '(He) stayed in bed for nearly the entire year, only rarely getting up other than to use the bathroom... At least once a week, he told me if I ever left him he would kill me.'

Christine said she kept an old cell phone in the house, and told their children they could use it to call 911.
       Source: www.dailymail.co.uk




The couple and their children moved to Lansing in September 2012.

There was an incident at a local Denny’s restaurant, where Christine had gone with friends. Randy, she wrote, was “extremely agitated that I wasn’t home yet.”

Randy went to the restaurant, she wrote, “grabbed my head and put my ear to his mouth to tell me if I didn’t come with him he’d ... get his rifle ... and shoot everyone in the restaurant.”

She went to the van with him. Inside, she spotted a box cutter, and moved it away from Randy. He saw her do that, she wrote, and said “if he (was) going to kill me, it would be with his bare hands ... when I didn’t expect it.”




Christine Keith tried to get away. She tried to protect her four children. Like most abused women, she tried time and again to get away. 

She wrote a blog about thriftiness because that was how she managed to keep their little family together and food on the table. 

But it wasn't enough. Her divorce attorney said he feared for Christine, but did not expect something of this magnitude. He said Christine had been very firm with her husband that it was over. That she was done.

Right after this happened, others emailed me and said: We have to do something. But what can we do?

I don't have that answer. I've been pondering it for the past few weeks. And I just don't know. 

I just know this affects women from all walks of life. No one is immune, no matter what they tell themselves. 

I know no one wants to think about sad things right now. But I think we owe it to Christine to keep her in the forefront of our thoughts this Christmas season. And of course the children left behind.

Please, light a candle on Christmas day for the blogger who is no longer among us, for her teenaged son who died too young. And for the three young children who lost their half brother and both parents.





And know that Christine Keith truly tried to do the best thing for her family. She tried to take her children and get away.

But he was determined he was never going to let her leave.

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35 comments:

  1. Many have walked on the edge of this. It is wrong, so wrong. I have a friend and this happened to her step sister and her 3 year old. Only he didn't kill himself but got to live in a hospital and still is as far as I know. He was normal before all this happened. I have heard that he could be released he has served his time. How could this be? It just seems there has to be a way to help women. Possibly going to a shelter where other people will be on the look out for him. I honestly, don't know.

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    1. Of course once she goes to a shelter or counseling, he's threatened and even more dangerous. Most are killed after they've left or are in the process of leaving. I think women should be taken to another town or state. Sort of like a witness protection situation. So she's safe and he doesn't know where she is until the divorce is final. Most of the time she doesn't have the funds to go far. The man makes sure of that. But then, that might not stop them either. Believe me, shelters are always in secret places where it would be hard to get to her until she left to go somewhere. And how long can she stay in a shelter. She needs to get a job, get a place to live. They don't have enough room in shelters for them to stay too long.

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  2. A very powerful post. I don't have an answer either, but this is an all too frequent occurrence. And you are correct it happens across ALL social and economic classes. Prayers will continue to be lifted up.

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  3. This is such a sad story and so frustrating that so little seems to be done about domestic violence. There is a thrift store here that supports a women's shelter and I donate to them frequently. It's not much but I do keep this tragedy in my prayers. Thanks for writing more about Christine, she deserves to be remembered!

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  4. Prevention is the only way to stop this... for women to love themselves enough to never get involved with a man that makes them feel less than they are to begin with. And the only way to do that is through this kind of message being taught and being brought to the light, like you have done with this post. Like you said 25% and messages like these are barely out there and when they are it's all about the women not about the men who cause it.

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    1. The problem is, most of the time, the women don't find out who they're really married to until after they're married. Perhaps they've had children and worries she can't support them. I don't think any of us would willingly marry a man like that. Those kind of men are too smart to show their cards until they've gotten control of her. They whittle down her confidence and self-esteem until she's just a shadow of the woman he originally married. And then it's often too late.

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    2. I don't know. I think there are always little signs. It is like after someone commits suicide. Those left see all the signs that they missed. I think it is hard for people to hide who they truly are inside. I bet most abused women could look back before they married their abusers and see the little subtle hints as to what lay ahead.

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  5. Brenda, I believe that the Lord some times puts stuff in our hearts that he wants other to share so thanks for following what was in your heart! This is so sad and you are right that there is not enough help of women or men that have to live in this kind of life. I will keep their family in my prayers and also pray on this to see if anything can be done, maybe just keeping this in the picture will help others. I am not so sure but this is really sad and this kind of thing happens way to much! Christine deserves to be remembered for sure! Thanks Brenda for sharing some of your heart today.

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  6. I support your efforts to keep Christine Keith's story from fading away. This time of year is an appropriate time to ponder the plight of those who suffer at the hands of others, and search for ways to help them.

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  7. That is such a sad story. I think what would've helped is if she felt like her life was in danger and she already had a restraining order set up against him, was to arm herself with a gun. I'm not kidding! If I felt like my life was in danger or my kids, I would learn to shoot a gun and carry it with me. I don't know what else she could've done.

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  8. My gut is just tied in knots. It is so senseless and so darned scary when things like this happen. It is the most covered up crime of everyday life. It is shameful and the abused one feels hopeless and helpless. I know that he was mentally ill-all signs point to it- but no one knew enough to stop the horror that was going to unfold. Thank you for this post. I hope that just one person "gets away" before it is too late. xo Diana

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  9. May we light a candle for all of those who have lost their lives through tragedy or illness. This is an especially hard time of the year for those who have lost loved ones.
    I pray that God will bless Christine's children. It is such a shame that her precious life was taken.
    I, also, think about the ones who are living with someone who is making their life miserable. Wouldn't it be wonderful if no more lives were lost through violence !
    I'm thinking about you Brenda.. Wishing you peace and plenty in the new year.
    Charlotte in Virginia

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  10. I truly admire your effort to keep Christine's memory alive.

    I supported our local women's shelter, until life got in the way. Your passionate voice inspires me. Today, my check is in the mail...

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  11. This hits me hard this morning.....long before reading this, I couldn't sleep last night, thinking about my life now and in the past. Like you, I got divorced a few years ago after 35 years of marriage. I loved my husband but our marriage had been going bad for years. I stayed for about a year because I was afraid....afraid I couldn't make it on my own, so I thought "unhappy married, unhappy not married, what a choice". But, God helped me by guiding my husband to be generous to me in the settlement. Now, years later we can almost be friends. He was only mentally abusive during our marriage but I was very afraid through the divorce process.....afraid of possible violence. I felt and still feel this way, because during the divorce, it became obvious I didn't know this man. I don't know the answer, but I believe women, all those who are afraid, need access to free counciling..... that would be a start....

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  12. I just wanted to tell you Thank You once again. I guess the WHOLE story was too raw for many follower's to reply.The way you told Christine's story was along with the source's was very eloquent for such a cruel, salvage act. Maybe if so of your other reader's had ever helped out at a women's shelter, needed one, or helped at a food pantry they'd take it to heart like you do .When I went to Christine's blog , I was taken back to see her posting on how to feed 5 on $50.00 a week and teaching Zumba 3time's a day.i'm sorry to those who think she should of known what kind of spouse she was marrying.Spouse's aren't stamped w/a L or W on their forehead. (winner,loser) Well, I couldn't turn the dial so kudo's to YOU!!! I will light a candle for Christine and her son , not because it goe's with my decor but for the memory of their short live's and for the little one's left behind. Blessing's to you and your big heart.

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  13. Yes, we do need to remember Christine and all the other women that are in this situation. I have a friend who is currently going through a divorce with her abusive husband and it is scary! She's moved to a secret location in the large city in which they live, but still lives in fear. My heart goes out to her and her children! As sad as it seems, I do believe if I were in that situation I would take to carrying a gun with me, after getting a permit and the classes required here in Texas. I don't know the answer either. Just sad that people can be so cruel and controlling. :( So yes, I will remember Christine and her son, and the surviving children this Christmas, and say extra prayers for them. Blessings to you for standing up for what you believe also!

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  14. This post made me weep. I have no words except that I will be keeping Christine's children and family in my prayers.

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  15. Domestic Abuse has touched my family. This past monday my youngest daughter (28) called me at 12 am and asked if she could come and sleep at my house. She is seperated from her husband but has been seeing/living with a guy she went to school with. I thought they just had a fight and she needed to get out. She came and spent the night. Tuesday morning she came in my room to tell me goodbye as she was getting ready to head out to work and I noticed a mark on her eyebrow and asked if she had a pimple. She was covering her mouth with her jacket but I thought it was because she had not brushed her teeth. She told me no pimple and lowered her jacket and that is when I saw the swell in her cheek and all the scrapes and marks on her neck. This guy (who by the way NO ONE in our family cared for) shoots pool at a local bar on Monday nights. Well this Monday my daughter didn't have the children and decided to go with him. While he was playing pool she was shooting darts and he decide that she was flirting and got pissed. When they got home the argument got worse and he pushed her hard on the chest and started to choke her. She managed to get his hands off her neck and she bit his finger (hard enough to fracture it) and kneed him in the crotch. It was at this time that he bit her cheek....you could see the teeth marks but thankfully no skin was broken. She is so very lucky he did not do anything worse. He told her she deserved what she got...he actually told her that she deserved worse. She told me that she was trying to help him...he comes from a family of alcoholics and was beating by his father and watched his mother get beat constantly.

    My daughter would not call the police because he told her that if she called the police and he was arrested that when he got out he would come and get her. I made her take pictures of her face and neck to document the abuse. She then evicted the coward who abused her. She told him that if all of his belongings were not removed from the apartment that day then she would call the police. We have changed the locks at this point. Can I tell you that I'm scared to death. So yes I know where poor Christine was coming from. I have lived with verbal abuse in a previous marriage...I know what those poor children must have felt like living with that man. It is a vicious cycle that never seems to end and then someone gets killed like poor Christine and her son. I too weep for those poor little ones who are left without their loving mother. I will be keeping that family in my prayers and all the women out there who are in relationships that are abusive and they see no way out.

    As always thank you for being you Brenda. Keep listening to that inner voice of yours that points you into the direction you blog needs to go. Life is not all pretty decorations and I thank you for sharing all!!

    Sue

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  16. This is such a difficult topic and yes the risk for getting killed by the abuser rises when leaving or having left them. Also, you are correct that the abuse often doesn't start until after the marriage. As a former counselor, I dealt with this on many occasions and by law I had to report it when a child was also being abused if the mother wouldn't do it. What we need are much stricter laws to protect the person getting abused. That includes much stricter gun laws. My heart hurts for those innocent children left behind and how this will affect them for the rest of their lives. xo Laura

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  17. There is power in keeping this story alive. Strong and important message.

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  18. I seldom read the comments, there doesn't seem to be the time but today I felt compelled to do so...I have never been close to being abused but did work in an Emergency Roon for 27 years, witnessed the physical and verbal abuse of an ex sister in law, nothing would pry her away from her husband 'he was such a nice guy when he wasn't drinking', she left him in the end. France has had a run of murder-suicides, the stats are as you've pointed out atroce, we are a strange lot us human beings, I will light candles for Christine, the other dead, and the women out there locked in these precarious and frightening situations. Bless them.

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  19. Maybe people should have to prove they are not crazy to get married

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    1. Yes, but whose definition of crazy would be used to decide? Isn't "crazy" really mental illness left untreated?

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  20. We can do something, even the smallest thing helps. If everyone does one small thing it becomes a big thing. I encourage everyone to channel their despair into something positive. Let the power of this poor woman's death move you forward. Volunteer, raise funds, become a big brother or sister, stick up a sign on your gate offering help, Bloggers are creative, we can find a way.

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  21. So sad for the children. We should all try to help as many as we can and pray for those we don't even know about that are hurting. They can't always reach out to us because of their situations.




















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  22. The ONLY justice here is that he killed himself as I am sure he would have been allowed to LIVE on in prison for a good many years until he was eventually released or died in prison. There is no justice for the victim and her young son, I don't see much justice left in America anymore and I am sure other countries fall into the same pattern. I PRAY that the young children she left behind are NOT being raised by HIS family. This story has disturbed me since you first made us aware of it and I thank you for doing so.

    Cate <><

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  23. Hi Brenda, This post hit very close to home so to speak , you see I lived exactly the same way Christine did for the exact same amount of time. The only difference is that after he left me for dead beating me severely he was put in prison for 5 years. I can say that experiencing that fearful way of life that no one can ever help you because of the fear you feel such as him saying he would kill everyone in the restaurant with me if I left he would kill people in my family. I was not allowed out in public only to go to the store and once I reached home he would check the store receipt for the time. I mostly wore dark glasses due to my blackeyes. These men that do this are very sick and should never be underestimated. They belittle woman to say how worthless and ugly they are. This happened to me 15 years ago and I am still fearful of him I don't go shopping alone or out at night alone. I have turned my life around and gotten my self esteem back , I am with an amazing kind man. I am a published author of a childrens series of books and I so enjoy my home , crafting and blogging and especially all my cyber blogging friends. I was fortunate to make it out alive . And as for restraining orders they really don't work, by the time the police get there it can be too late so don't put too much trust in that. I have been asked to write about my life then but maybe when I'm ready to rehash everything some day. It has made me very cautious for I own a fire arm and have training in martial arts my small self is ready if need be and I would advise self protection tactics for woman in general. Well it's Christmas and time to put that all away and just appreciate what I have and who I have and be thankful to be breathing. If anyone knows someone in this situation just be there for them in a safe way and if you can get them out of their situation and never underestimate the abuser. Merry Christmas and be safe Lisa @ Sweet Tea N' Salty Air

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  24. Oh Brenda, bless you for writing this. I didn't know her but I have seen her posts once in awhile. How very sad that her children do not have their mother and their brother. On the other hand, thank God he is gone. Mental illness is such a dark place. We need more funding for this. I don't think anyone can understand abuse unless you have been there. Our adopted son was abused in several ways. It was amazing to me the people that think just because they aren't affected by it that it doesn't exist in their minds. This poor mom and what she went through. I hope and will pray that these children can be raised by someone who loves and cares for them like they deserve. (((((HUGS)))

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  25. I sure will light a candle for them all! So sad and such a waste of precious lives yet it happens everyday. Why didnt he just shoot himself? The selfish coward!!! My friend's 4 little boys will be spending their first Christmas without their mommy for the same reason only more cleverly planned..she had heart problems and her husband would not let her go to the doctor and she died at home. Oh what a bad world we live in these days.

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  26. Bless you Brenda, for posting this. I have come back to it all day to read comments...I know what it's like to have an abusive father up to a point, and so of course I chose an abusive husband...I did not have to endure the physical abuse, but the mental abuse was horrendous. I thank you for speaking for all women afraid to speak for themselves. My prayers will continue for Christine's children, and all abused children and women everywhere.

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  27. I have a close friend who was able to escape after nearly being killed multiple times. When I finally found out what what going on, I could not understand why she went kept going back, but the threats to her and the kids were real. I was asked to hide the children when she finally made it out. I was scared to death to have them, but I knew she needed me. He was an evil husband, father and human being. She is doing fantastic and that chapter of her life is long gone. But, I see things in the kids (now adults) that are the result of their mother be beaten repeatedly while they were forced to watch. This person is highly educated and economically in the top 1% of the country. I say that to remind people that it can happen at all levels of society.

    Thanks for making people aware.

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  28. I went to her blog the other day and spent some time reading her oldest posts. Makes me so sad. What a horribly senseless ordeal.

    It reminds me of a girl from church who was murdered along with her precious, and I mean PRECIOUS little boy. Someone went into her place of business and murdered them both. From the way they found him, they said it was obvious he saw his mother be killed in front of him and threw up his little hands over his head to protect himself. I'm not sure they convicted the person they thought it was, but that was the saddest funeral I have ever attended. That tiny casket next to his mom's bigger one. But there were some wonderful things said and much comfort for her mother and the rest of us. I think of her every single time something senseless like this happens. I have blocked out how she was murdered. I am serious. couldn't tell you if I tried. No, I want to remember her beautiful face and that precious little toe-headed boy with the beaming smile. That's how I choose to remember them, and they are alive in my memory forever.

    XO,

    Sheila

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  29. This hits home with me. I too was once in a abusive marriage years ago. There were no signs that would of indicated the monster he truly is. Thank god I had a great friend that took me in for a few weeks until I was able to get help and a llace of my own. I do know that the apple did not fall far from the tree. His father was very abusive to his mother. I did not know this till after being married for a short time. I married way to soon without knowing him or his family a bit more. If there was 2 things that I would suggest to any women is do not hurry into a wedding. Waiting it out for at least a year and half before marriage should give you a few clues to his behavior....jealousy...possesive...controlling...anger....insecure...mood swings....and verbal abuse which by the way is how it usually starts first. If you think yiu can change this person think again!!! If he promises you he will never do it again after he hits you....think again!! If he says sorry over and over , you will only hear this a thiusand more times after each abusive episode. The second thing I would tell any women wanting to do leave is have a plan in place...go stay at a friends, family or womens shelter, money not needed!! Go to social services for help with food, welfare. There are many programs out there for help with low cost housing, help with utilities, help with free leagal services, and food pantries. You just need a good friend or family member to help you for a few weeks. Everything will fall into place. I know, I walked in those shoes! God bless.

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