I was just riding along in my car listening to the radio and all of a sudden it hit me—the swift, unforgiving, and suffocating grief that literally took my breath away. I paused, my chest clinched, my breath was caught in the back of my throat and tears started to sting my eyes. I miss my mother everyday, every moment I am constantly aware that she is not here, that it’s been eight years and eleven months since I’ve spoken to her.
It is a grief that boils over every once in a while for no reason at all it seems to just envelope me in the reality of an unthinkable loss and to find my way in this new life, the one that I was left to navigate on that terrible day in November 2000—without my mother.
My mom, Sheila Calloway, died. She was killed actually, stabbed to death with a carving knife we would later learn at trial. How can I say this so bluntly, so seemingly blasé? Because I live with these facts everyday, they’ve become almost dissociative. A shield, I think, a means of protecting my fragile sensibilities from shattering to pieces from the pain. These indescribable truths have seeped into my soul and become a part of me, a part of my life. As much as I wish they would, the facts won’t change, I cannot alter time. I have to simply deal with it.
It was really cold the day I found out that I found out about my mother had been killed. It was a Friday morning and I was sitting at my desk writing a corporate profile and listening to music through my headphones when my boss called me into her office. I was new on the job and terrified that I had screwed up already. She assured me that everything was fine with my work, but that my aunt had called and there was a family emergency. I needed to fly home to Nashville right away. She said she didn’t know what had happened but that she told them she’d drive me to the airport.
I couldn’t wait to get out of her office and back to my desk so I could call home and find out what happened. A plane ticket I knew signaled some kind of tragedy, a sudden death maybe, but whose? I was not at all prepared for what was coming. As soon as I reached my desk, I called my father. Relieved that he answered the phone, I pressed him for information. I will never forget exactly what he said. “Kisha your mother was murdered last night.” And in an instant, my whole world came crashing down around me.
What followed was a blur, the details heartbreaking and horrific. She and her boyfriend had an argument. She broke things off. He went and grabbed a knife from the kitchen. She ran for the door, but never made it out.
In the days that followed I went to bed crying and woke up crying, taking solace in the support of my brothers, the only people in the world who knew exactly how I felt. We all managed to somehow get through the funeral and somehow the murder trial. The guilty verdict and subsequent life sentence brought my family some sense of justice and closure. But we all knew that none of our lives would ever be the same.
My mother died November 9, 2000, that year 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. Even though we believe that prior to her murder there was no actual physical abuse there was emotional and mental abuse. So what exactly is domestic violence?
Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power over another.
- Pushing, shoving, grabbing, slapping, punching, and restraining among other acts
- Physical intimidation (blocking doors, throw¬ing objects)
- Use of weapons
- Stalking (See OVW Stalking Fact Sheet)
- Attacks on sexual parts of the body
- Forced sexual activities
- Pressure to have sex
- Rape (including marital/partner rape)
- Threats and coercive tactics
- Controlling what the victim can and cannot do
- Undermining a victim’s self-worth and self-esteem
- Humiliation, denigration
- Threatening to harm or kill a pet
- Isolating the victim from family or friends
- Blaming the abuse on the victim
- Interrogating the victim and their children
- Name-calling and yelling
- Maintaining control over finances
- Withholding access to money
- Making the victim financially dependent
- Not allowing the victim to work or go to school