September 28, 2012
By Denise Baran-Unland for The Herald-News
JOLIET — On Thursday, when Linda King of Arizona faces participants at Will County Take Back the Night Vigil and March, she will not offer slick solutions for ending dating and domestic violence, although her foundation, Fix the Hurt, works tirelessly to that end.
King will, however, share the 2001 death of her daughter Lisa at the hands of Lisa’s former husband and offer suggestions for supporting those trapped in abusive relationships.
“Your main objective is to be a good listener,” King said. “If you listen with an open heart, that person will feel comfortable with you and continue to talk to you. If you start giving advice too early, at a time when she may not be ready to leave, she may not come to you anymore. You can only help to the point she wants to be helped.”
Since 1996, Will County Take Back the Night has hosted an annual rally to raise awareness and educate the community about domestic and sexual violence against women and support the healing process for abuse survivors.
The event includes a featured speaker, a candlelight memorial vigil, entertainment, a brief march and information from organizations that assist abuse survivors.
Also Thursday, King will present a play about domestic violence at Lincoln-Way Central and Joliet Township West high schools, as King has done at many high schools since Lisa’s murder.
“The more people that can get involved,” said coordinator Julie Goetten, match specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties in Joliet, “the more they can help prevent what has happened in so many cases.”
Lora McGuire, clinical educator at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet and long-term committee member, added, “The recent convictions of Drew Peterson and Christopher Vaughn delivered justice, but obviously at a cost far too great. Kathleen Savio was my nursing student. I volunteer with Take Back the Night for her and all victims of domestic violence.”
In her second year of college, Lisa began dating a man with a narcissistic personality who had already done jail time for aggravated assault. King had strong objections to the relationship and voiced them to Lisa, which drove Lisa closer to the man. Eventually, Lisa married — and divorced — him.
What followed mimicked “textbook” abuse, King said. Whenever the violence became more than Lisa could bear, she returned to her parents. Several times, King and her husband, John, provided Lisa with a furnished apartment, but each time Lisa returned to the man who abused her.
When the time came for the Kings to move from Florida to Texas, Lisa decided to remain behind and give the relationship with her former husband another try. Six weeks later, Lisa was dead. She had received six blows to the head with a blunt object; her body was covered in bruises.
During the trial, King heard accusations that Lisa, under the influence of cocaine, had self-inflicted the wounds. Lisa’s former husband received a 10-year sentence without parole. He completed that sentence and has been released.
When King began speaking about her experiences, Lisa’s former husband tried suing her for defamation of character. Since Lisa’s death, King has spoken to thousands of middle and high school students about dating and domestic violence.
In 2007, King formed Fix the Hurt, a not-for-profit, domestic violence awareness and prevention organization that presents programs and plays for schools, corporations, civic organizations and the prison system.
Fix the Hurt’s latest production is “Domestic Violence, The Musical?” This hour-long production addresses the fight to end domestic violence.
Of their eight children, King and John have lost three. In addition to Lisa’s murder, one child died in an auto accident and another as a result of a home break-in. Their youngest is HIV positive. King feels she and her husband are lucky. Many marriages, she said, do not survive the death of an adult child.
“People ask us, ‘If you had done things differently, could you have saved Lisa’s life?’” King said. “I don’t know, but we do know that if we knew then what we know now, we would have handled things differently.”