Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Run Life Your Way

I run for hope, I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me, my friend
I run for life ... ("I Run for Life" by Melissa Etheridge)

At 21, Kristin Mitchell had her entire life ahead of her.

She had a brand new college degree from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. A family bursting with pride, with love. A wonderful job lined up with General Mills.

And she had a boyfriend who killed her - three weeks after this photo was taken.

Three weeks.

Her entire life.

Kristin was in the process of ending the relationship when her boyfriend came to her Conshohocken, Pa. apartment. He had some possessive tendencies, judging from a text message of Kristin's, a text that her father later retrieved from her cell phone.

you are being ridiculous
why cant i do anything with my friends

Kristin didn't know trying to leave him would leave him so violent, so enraged that he would stab her more than 50 times in her kitchen. She didn't know what domestic violence experts know, that statistics show that the leaving is the most dangerous time in a relationship.

She didn't know that she was, at 21, a victim of domestic abuse.

It is because of the efforts of her friends and family, who established The Kristin Mitchell Foundation in her memory, that many more people now know what Kristin and her friends tragically did not. That dating violence is real. That it is prevalent. That there are warning signs.

That it can and does happen on idyllic college campuses to 21 year old students whose whole lives are ahead of them.
And it is on the idyllic campus of Saint Joseph's University where we will be bright and early this Sunday morning, October 4, for the 3rd Annual Kristin's Krusade. It's a 5K Run/Walk that raises funds and, more importantly, awareness. If you're in the area or feel compelled to support the event and Kristin's foundation, you can find more information here.

The Kristin Mitchell Foundation supports educational efforts that raise awareness among college students about the potential dangers of unhealthy dating relationships. In 2009, KMF provided funding for four workshops on dating violence at two Philadelphia-area universities, as well as a 12-hour Women's Anti-Violence Education Training at Saint Joseph’s University, Kristin's alma mater.

Since Kristin's death, her parents Bill and Michele have worked successfully to pass Maryland House Bill 845, allowing for tween and teen dating violence education curriculums in Maryland schools for grades 7-12.

Kristin didn't know what lurked on the other side of her apartment door on June 3, 2005, three weeks after she stepped off Saint Joseph's campus as a new college graduate, a happy day that would be the very last one that her family would ever see her alive.

All Kristin Mitchell wanted was to walk through the door to her new life that was waiting for her. To run life her way.

Because of her, others now can.

And someday if they tell you about it
If the darkness knocks on your door
Remember her, remember me
We will be running as we have before
Running for answers
Running for more.


the_laugh said...

Wow...thanks for writing this!

Stephanie Baffone said...

Melissa this post moved me. Early on in my career as a therapist I worked in a domestic violence shelter as a therapist to women and their children, escaping the stranglehold of abusive partners.
What a victory for victims this bill in Maryland for a curriculum will be passed. Long overdue but a life-saving legacy in this young girls memory.
I am tweeting this post. People need to know about this.
Thank you for passing it on.
On a personal note, I am working on stronger language in my writing! Per your suggestion and my hunch.
xo Stephanie

Niksmom said...

This strikes a very different chord with me now as I consider my young and very beautiful and trusting nieces out in the world of adults (they're 18 & 20). I hope they know how to keep themselves out of abusive relationships.

I've shared this on Twitter and will post a link on FB, too.

BillMitchellKMF said...

I am Kristin's father, Bill Mitchell.

Although we will not be having Kristin back with us, we are doing all we can to prevent other "Kristin's" from occurring.

"Kristin's Krusade" our annual 5k run/walk will happen this Sunday, October 4th at Saint Joseph's University. Our family will be there and I hope Kristin will see a great turnout.

I am open to emails from anyone at any time.


BillMitchellKMF said...

I hate to say it but it's better to kindly scare your nieces, daughters and all of the young and innocent, than to receive the news that we did.

Sheltering any young woman from the realities of the world is chancing their future happiness and, maybe, their lives.

They need to know warning signs.

I suggest you going to loveisnotabuse.com
and learning as a family.

Bill Mitchell

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Thank you, all. I'm glad this resonated with so many.

Mr. Mitchell, thank you for allowing me to share Kristin's story and your family's story. The more people know about her, the more her light can shine into others' lives.

BillMitchellKMF said...

Hi Melissa,
Kristin's story will likely save a lot of your women from a similar fate. If she were able to speak today, she would want her tragedy to get as much good out of it as possible.

She was a good and sharing person. She lives today because she was a good spirit -- even when she was here on Earth.

Those who ignore the truth about dating violence are the ones I feel sorry for now. "It will never happen to me" is the first mistake in thinking, because it keeps happening to young women.

Thank you for spreading the word.

Bill Mitchell

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

In my career as a social worker, I saw many women and young girls who had chosen lives that were dangerous and potentially violent.

Education is something that should always be on the front-burner.

BillMitchellKMF said...

Hi Laurel,
We have learned the hard way that education is the answer. That way, when something potentially life-changing comes along, the possible victim has a chance she might recognize the danger.