Friday, June 3, 2011

Run Life Your Way

(In Kristin's memory, and in hopes that this might help another, I am reposting this one again.  Because the message can't be heard enough.)

"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 - on June 3, 2005, three weeks after this photo at her college graduation 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.

Those words still chill me, someone who would only come to know Kristin posthumously through my work with a a domestic violence organization that brought me into contact with her incredibly brave, determined, and passionate parents. (More on them in a bit.)

Kristin didn't know that trying to break up with her boyfriend 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.

Today, six years after her death, The Kristin Mitchell Foundation supports educational efforts that raise awareness among college students about the potential dangers of unhealthy dating relationships. Her parents, Bill and Michele, have worked tirelessly to change legislation regarding the teaching of tween and teen dating violence education curriculums in Maryland, where they reside and where they raised Kristin.  For five years, her friends and family have coordinated Kristin's Krusade, a 5K Run/Walk, in order to try and raise awareness and ultimately make a difference in the lives of others.

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.

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 and the efforts of her family and friends, maybe someone else 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 ...."

"I Run for Life" ~ Melissa Etheridge

Click here for more information on Kristin's Krusade and the Kristin Mitchell Foundation.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Melissa said...

Oh, wow. This absolutely gave me the chills. How horrific. My heart just breaks for everyone Kristin left behind, as well as for a life that didn't get lived.

I admire her parents and friends for establishing the foundation, but it's the type of foundation one wishes didn't have to exist.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Wow. I can't even imagine. Incredible that her parents are able to channel their grief into something positive. I too wish this foundation didn't need to exist...I do think the title "domestic violence" makes teens think of married people...even "spousal abuse" obviously insinuates a legally binding agreement. We should definitely build more educational programs and opportunities on "relationship violence" and "partner abuse" to remove the misnomer.

Booksnyc said...

What an important story - thanks for posting.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Thanks, once again, Melissa, for sharing with us some powerful human stories. Your compassion is what brings me back to this blog every time you post.

Take care, my friend.