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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Prichard

A Tale of two sisters-Domestic Violence

Updated: Feb 15

Lisa enjoying her favorite things: scuba, boating, skiing

Normally, my blog posts are weekly, but today is a day that I can't let pass without acknowledging and remembering someone taken from this earth too soon. Today, February 15th, is the sad anniversary of the day that my older sister (by two years), Lisa, was killed in an unforgivable act of domestic violence.

It's been nineteen years since we lost Lisa. It's hard to comprehend that so many years have passed. It seems like yesterday I received a call from my brother telling me the news. My husband at the time (ex now) and I, and two of our kids (who had just testified at a murder trial - a future blog post), were speeding down the freeway on our way home when I took the call. I told my husband to pull over immediately, so I could get out and throw up on the shoulder of the highway.

My world began spinning out of control at that moment. The hardest part of that evening and night was breaking the news to my younger sister and to my mom. Moments of trauma, as drastic as these, tend to leave an everlasting scar on your heart and soul, and every moment of that day is seared into my memory, like a movie I can't forget. I remember my veins going cold as I lay on the floor in a state of shock, at the foot of the sofa that my mom sat on while she cried tears that wouldn't end and was grateful that our father had already passed. We were raised in a loving home, far removed from abuse, and now it had invaded our lives without warning. My father's heart would have been shattered into a million pieces knowing one of his children had been shot and killed by a person who personified the definition of evil. Although none of us knew at the time that he was evil, we hadn't seen that side of him. That was another difficult part of the equation to understand and accept, and in the blur of it all, nothing made sense.

But it was real. And it was true. He killed her, then turned the gun on himself. All I could think was that he saved us from sitting in a courtroom having to stare at his horrible face and listen to lies. I knew what happened in courtrooms; I was a criminal defense paralegal and worked on murder cases. I stopped being a paralegal and changed careers after my sister was killed; I didn't have the stomach for it anymore. The other thing I didn't have the stomach for was my own denial of abuse I had been tolerating for years at the hands of my husband (now ex), and the rationalizations and feelings of being trapped that I wrestled with day-in and day-out. But, when Lisa was killed, there was no sweeping my own situation under the rug, no more excusing violent and abusive behavior, no more trying to help him. If there was a reality that I had to face, it was that I could end up dead myself. Losing my sister had shown me that.

I had never experienced abuse before, and during those years of my marriage, I found myself paralyzed and confused, and searching desperately for a reasonable explanation and a "fix" for his behavior. But, after my sister's death, I woke up. I could not let that happen to myself and I would not leave my children alone without a mother. I spent a year planning my escape, put safeguards into place, and waited until I could leave safely. My ex was an attorney and connected. I had to be smart. It's a well-known fact that when you’re leaving an abusive relationship, it is the most dangerous time. My sister was packed and bent over tying her shoes when the coward, who supposedly loved her, shot her. She was almost out the door. Almost found freedom. Almost....I could not be a person who almost made it out. I had to be a person who GOT out.

After a year of planning and a period of relative calmness and couples therapy, on a bright summer morning, my ex grabbed me by the arms and slammed me against the closet shelves and threatened to kill me. I believed him. I waited for him to leave for work and went into action. I was ready; the hidden bags were packed, I had cash, a secret credit card, a secret bank account, and a plan. The kids and I disappeared and went into hiding until the smoke cleared, a restraining order was in place, and the locks on our home were changed. Then I waged the battle of my life in court for the next eight and a half years. We made it through that as well. Today, I still hold a permanent restraining order against my ex, who, on multiple occasions, threatened my life. I still believe him.

There are many reasons women stay in abusive relationships, and we shouldn't judge them because each situation is different. And as independent and strong as I am, it’s hard to admit how long I stayed and tolerated behavior that was intolerable. But there is freedom and a way to make it out alive. And my best advice is to leave after the very first incident of abuse. The VERY FIRST! Don't wait for the love bombing, the apologies, the excuses, the reasons not to leave. Because, if it happens once, it will happen again. The more it happens, the more you are trapped, and the more you are trauma bonded and can't see the way out.

You are worthy of having a life steeped in peace and happiness, free of abuse. Don't believe otherwise. Find a trusted person to confide in, make a safe plan to leave, and grab your freedom. Life is good on the other side of abuse. And, as we all know without a doubt, abuse is not love. Please don't let your heart believe any differently.

If you are in an abusive relationship, the link to domestic violence resources is: Or you can call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TEXT "START" to 88788. We also have a private Facebook group dedicated to Lisa's memory if you or someone who might benefit from the group would like to join. It's called Stop Domestic Violence - Lisa's Page.

In memory of my sister, Lisa Morgan - 08/10/1960 - 2/15/2005, who was incredibly talented and loved by her family so much. You are still missed!

A heart formed by two people.
Abuse is Not Love!

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