The story is not about how my sister died. The story is that she did and how we have moved on and survived after it. The story of her death is not the end of the story, it is the beginning, it is essential to the message but it is not the message.
My sister, my best friend, died sometime around midnight on December 22, 2005. She had been planning to leave her husband after the Christmas holidays were through, but he didn't know it. They had separated earlier that year in November for a short time but had decided to try reconciliation. Things hadn't changed though and she was tired of feeling trapped, she was ready to take the step out. What we didn't realize at the time was that he was abusive. He never hit her so it was easy to mistake it as a normal relationship. Heaven knew we didn't grow up witnessing one so we wouldn't have known otherwise. However, he was verbally and emotionally abusive for many years. He controlled her actions, felt extreme jealousy at her normal activities, put her down constantly and publicly, at times prevented her from putting her motherly instincts into action, isolated her from her friends and family, restricting who they saw and when.
We'll never know exactly what happened the night she died, but we heard afterwards that he had told a work friend that if he couldn't have her, no one would. He killed her. Beat her to death. The first time he hit her, he killed her. Then, he went out to the shed and killed himself, leaving their 2 boys sleeping in the house to find their mother in the morning. What a horrid legacy for the boys to wake up into. How do they get past that? How do they put aside the memories of having to step over their mothers body to open the door for the police? How do they reconcile what their father did? They are not their father. They are not their mother. But their parents death lives on inside of them, sometimes taking on a life of its own.
Their death is such a horrid story. I dislike telling it. I don't like the looks of pity I get when people hear about my sister. But it is a powerful story. It has a great message to be heard. My sister didn't know what could happen to her, most people don't realize that emotional and verbal abuse is as dangerous as physical abuse. I do now. I know how easy the step from one to the other is. We look the other way when a man insults his wife publicly, thinking they are having a disagreement or just thinking he's an idiot, but when he hits her, it's a huge problem and people get up in arms about it. We need to get up in arms before he hits her. We need to get up in arms when he starts insulting her, keeping her from her friends, accusing her of affairs following normal every day activities.
We need to spread the message. We must not be silent. Angela's death can save other women, it has saved other women. The story must be told in order to prevent the same thing happening again. I will dance on, my dance has changed since her death and I pray that in my dancing her story is heard.