On a warm June afternoon in Washington, D.C., a film crew from ABC’s Good Morning America interviewed my wife and me for a segment on dating violence. Two other pairs of parents were interviewed following us. Their daughters were also involved in violent acts caused by their boyfriends.
I had been told that parents who lose daughters in violent crimes were "the club nobody wants to join.” If included, you immediately felt close to the other members. It’s like a support group.
In the early evening, the interviewed parents were collected at a posh D.C. restaurant. John and Mary, from a northeastern state, lost their daughter four months after our daughter was killed. Mary was in town to advocate for a national law to mandate teaching about dating violence in every high school in the nation.
My wife, Michele, was chatting with Mary and a single mother named Sheila, who was from Buffalo, New York.
John, on my left, leaned over to me.
“Bill, I gotta say, man, I feel sorry for you…”
Taken off guard, I responded, “You feel sorry for me?”
“I do. You see, we lost our daughter too, but our situation’s different.” I wondered where this was going. It felt personal, considering we had only met mere minutes before.
“See Sheila there, talking with your wife? The guy who killed her daughter had the decency to kill himself after he shot her. She doesn’t need to deal with him anymore. He’s gone.
“Let’s not forget our guy. He killed my daughter but got nailed with first-degree murder. He’s in prison for the rest of his miserable life.
He’s not coming out. But, believe me, if I had the chance, I’d still kill him.”
John was scary. His anger was so close to the surface as if he could explode at any moment.
But he felt sorry for me? Then, he pointed my way.
“Bill, then there’s your guy. What’d he get? Thirty years?”
Taking it gently, I replied. “Thirty years, but mandated to do only fifteen. Then he’ll face annual parole boards until his thirtieth year.”
John, with eyebrows raised, said, “What did I say? See? That’s why I feel sorry for you. You have all of that ahead of you. Mary and I don’t. Neither does Sheila.”
Suddenly, I felt sorry for me, too.
Bill Mitchell - Dating violence. I have given over one hundred speeches and interviews about how to detect an unhealthy relationship, and ways to get out. He lost his daughter to dating violence. It didn't need to happen. She would probably be alive today had she known what he know now.
This is an excerpt from the soon-to-be-released memoir When Dating Hurts by Bill Mitchell. It tells the true story of the loss of his daughter due to dating violence. Dating violence is an insidious epidemic that is not even on the radar of most parents. One in three women will suffer serious physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetimes. This typically happens between the ages of 16 and 24. That is someone's daughter, niece, friend or neighbor, but it can happen to anyone at any age. This book aims to change that with advice learned the hard way.
When Dating Hurts will be available at Amazon.com