Sunday, January 29, 2012

Article: Domestic abuse: Lori Yeager didn’t think she’d die last week - know your risks

MOUNT AYR, Iowa (Isabelle Zehnder reporting) -- Intimate Partner Violence Specialist Susan Murphy Milano says women who are in abusive, unhealthy, destructive relationships with men should not only know their risks but should plan their escape so they can protect themselves from possibly losing their lives – something that’s too late for Lori Yeager whose boyfriend murdered her last week.

Lori is the 45-year-old Iowa mother of a 9-year-old daughter whose long-term boyfriend, Robert Daren Taylor, 40, reportedly abused her in 2001 and killed her last week following a domestic dispute.

Police responded to a call made by a child reporting a domestic altercation in their home. Melinda Mackey of KSIB reports the child was their 9-year-old daugther.

Upon arrival they found Lori’s lifeless body, the child was not physically injured. One can only imagine the emotional scars this little girl will now be forced to live with.

Taylor went missing for several days as he evaded a statewide manhunt. An active arrest warrant had been issued for Taylor on a first-degree murder charge.

The manhunt ended when he was approached by police. The sheriff said when his deputy approached the vehicle the man inside opened his car door, faced the deputy, and shot himself.

An autopy will confirm what police already know - that the man who killed himself is the coward who shot and killed Lori while their little girl was home.

Did he consider, for one nanosecond, what his little girl would be forced to live with for the rest of her life? At least he didn't kill her, too.

A woman who said she knew Lori and Taylor told media she was “shocked and saddened” and said Lori was a “wonderful person, very kind-hearted.” Her kind heart is likely what got her killed.

But people who knew Lori best said while they were shocked over the deaths, they weren't surprised. They said they knew Taylor was dangerous and had tried for years to help Lori our of her abusive relationship. Jodi Wurster said she tried about 10 years ago and Jackie Mcvey said she tried the day before Lori’s death.

Jackie Mcvey told ABC 5 that when she told Lori she should leave the relationship last week, Lori's response was, “He’s doing better, it’s gonna be okay.”

Jackie said, “She just really loved him. She was really baffled, and she just couldn’t see what we seen. She was just so much in love that she couldn’t see past it.”

She said Lori was a great mother to her two daughters. It was not reported if Lori's other daughter was home at the time of the shooting. These little girls, like Murphy Milano, are now faced with coping with a lifetime of anguish over the loss of their mother.

Jackie has a message for anyone going through a situation like Lori’s: Just get out. But as Murphy Milano knows, and as we’ve seen time and time again, it’s not always that easy. There are critical steps that should be taken for a woman to protect herself. In some cases, the threat of a woman leaving an abusive relationship has been enough to cost her her life.

This wasn’t Taylor’s first offense, it usually never is. He’d been arrested and convicted of domestic abuse in 2001, online court records show, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail – of which 28 were suspended. Lori was the victim in that case.

Court records reflect a judge lifted the no-contact order related to the case on the condition Taylor complete a Batterers’ Education Program. He initially failed to attend but eventually completed the classes.

God Can’t Stop the Bullet

On Monday Murphy Milano wrote God Can’t Stop the Bullet. She knows all too well how a person is willing to remain in an unhealthy and destructive relationship – she witnessed this with her own parents on January 16, 1989 - 23 years ago today.

What she experienced was dreadful, something more horrifying than most people could even imagine they’d have to cope with in their lifetime. She found both parents dead in her family home. Her mother had been shot and killed by her father who then shot and killed himself.

Murphy Milano explains that as a child she knew the verbal and physical abuse between her parents wasn’t good but she was helpless to do anything about it. She knew how much her mother loved her father, and how her mother thought God would always protect her from her abusive husband.

She says that looking back on it now she understands her mother did not have the strength, nor did she love herself enough to get out before it was too late. “She was naïve in thinking her love for my father was enough. But, you can’t love the devil,” she wrote.

Murphy Milano shared Lori’s story on her blog and talks about how some victims of domestic abuse feel helpless to move away from their relationships. She’s spent years developing strategies and steps women can take to successfully leave abusive and potentially deadly relationships with men.

Murphy Milano warns women: Understand, when you are in an abusive relationship, God is not going to stop the bullet.

Victims, she said, must cease with the excuses “he or she will change.” She understands leaving is difficult when you “think” you love someone too much to be apart. Some women, she said, believe they know the person’s heart or that they would never carry out their threats. We have seen all to often when they do.

She said if the person in your relationship has to resort to threatening words and physical violence, "they are not worthy of the very air you breathe." She's right.

Murphy Milano says excuses you're telling yourself that it's just because he's angry, or he makes you believe that somehow you're responsible, is nothing but pure "bullshit!"

She adds, "Pick yourself up, have a plan, and get out!"

But, she says, don’t try to get out without a well orchestrated plan. Don’t let your abuser know of your plans to leave – at all cost.

Visit the Murphy Milano Journal for a checklist that will help you determine if you're in a lethal relationship (developed by the National Institute of Justice), help you understand your risks, and help you learn how to get out safely.

The website contains the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA). The EAA is described by ImaginePublicity as “the mastermind process of violence expert Susan Murphy Milano that combines videotaping of an abuse victim’s own words attesting the abuse, with witnessed and notarized legal documents that successfully satisfy legal hurdles often faced in intimate partner violence and stalking case." Read more here.

It’s beyond comprehension how a person can cope with an incident so tragic as finding both parents deceased. Rather than bury herself in her distress, mourning, and pain, Murphy Milano chose to advocate for those at risk of losing their lives to intimate partner abuse.

Mackey wrote, "This is a very difficult time in Mt. Ayr and the surrounding areas. Lori was a very well loved person, very well thought of, and was a substitute teacher that has touched many lives.

"I did not know Lori myself, but I have several friend who did and I can say without a doubt that the community is deeply saddened by this loss of a wonderful woman. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends."

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