October 9, 2015
The night their father killed their mother, Andrea Humphries and Dana Jarrett found a strength they never knew they had. Despite their pain, the sisters are speaking out in hopes that victims of domestic violence and those who love them will learn from their experience.
“Domestic violence is serious, threats are serious,” Jarrett said. “We do not want anyone to experience the nightmare of living through this. We choose to share our story to help give others the courage to speak out against domestic violence and choose a better story than ours.”
The women spoke during a recent candlelight vigil the YWCA Central Alabama hosted in Pell City as part of its Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities. The YW will join forces with The Magic City Chapter of The Links, Inc. to host a second vigil on October 22 at 6 p.m. at Linn Park in Birmingham. Both events are sponsored byVerizon Wireless.
“On March 23, 2011, our mother lost her fight against domestic violence,” Humphries said. “As brutal as that night was, it was only the end of a struggle she had her whole life. Domestic violence doesn’t start out as physical abuse. It usually has a slow progression from verbal and mental abuse. It also doesn’t have just one victim. It affects whole families.”
The sisters told how their father controlled their mother, letting the air out of her car tires to keep her at home and burning her church clothes so she couldn’t attend services she loved. He threw plates of food against the wall and routinely woke her up in the middle of the night to make her fix him something to eat. He busted windows and shot her fish tank. “Anything she loved, he would attack,” Humphries said. “Anytime he would do something bad, he would buy her flowers to make up for it.”
Although their mother left several times, she always went back because he couldn’t take care of himself and needed her. An alcoholic who suffered from depression, he often threatened suicide. “From the outside, he was a totally different person,” Jarrett said. “Neighbors loved our dad. He always went out of the way to help anyone. It always appeared he had a good heart, unless you really knew him.”
In March of 2011, the girls planned to take their mother on a cruise. Four days before their dream trip, their father shot their mother and turned the gun on himself. He died the following day.
Humphries and Jarrett said they are grateful for the work the YWCA does to spread awareness and help victims. The agency operates two confidential emergency shelters – one in Jefferson County and another that serves St. Clair and Blount counties. The YW also provides counseling, case management, legal services and help with housing and childcare.
“This is happening all around us,” Jarrett said. “People we know and love are fighting silently and suffering alone because of fear and lack of support.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call the YWCA’s confidential 24-hour Crisis Hotline at 205-322-HURT (4878) or the statewide hotline at 1-800-650-6522.
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