Miss Ludington Area reflects on why domestic violence awareness matters.

October 20, 2016
Sara holding onto Shelby

Sara holding onto Shelby

Miss Ludington Area reflects on why domestic violence awareness matters. 

By Shelby Soberalski, Miss Ludington Area. 

Editor’s note: October is domestic violence awareness month. 

In the last year, I’ve been very open about my life and my family. In all honesty, I can’t really talk about my relationship with my sister Jolee, without talking about our other sibling, Sara.

Biologically, Sara is our cousin, but in our hearts she is our older sister. She lived with us growing up and I didn’t know she wasn’t my sister until I was about 6 years old. But that didn’t change our relationship.

Sara was our everything. When we were very young, nobody really wanted to accept Jolee and her autism. But Sara did. She didn’t care that Jolee, “looked different” or that she couldn’t talk. She helped me understand that my sister was different, not less.

On June 7, 2005, our lives were forever changed; Sara had been murdered.

It was completely senseless. Her attacker didn’t really know her. He wanted her out of the way so that he could continue to hurt his intended victim. It was domestic violence. Sara was 23-years-old and a recent college graduate that was getting her life together. Her attacker was on drugs and had no conscious.

I don’t talk about Sara’s death looking for sympathy. I talk about it to keep her memory and spirit alive. Domestic violence happens whether we want to talk about it or not.

Sara’s situation is different because she hardly knew her attacker, but at the same time, nobody has the same story. Domestic violence can take on many different forms and some of the most commonly noticed forms are physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. Abuse doesn’t always just come from a romantic relationship either. It can be a family member, a friend, a classmate, a neighbor. It doesn’t matter how long the abuse happens for, it is abuse.

Sara with Shelby and Jolee.

Sara with Shelby and Jolee.

My whole heart goes out to the survivors of domestic violence, to the people who have lost their lives and to their families. I want you all to know that you are enough. You are beautiful. I do believe in you. Your life is not defined by your abuse or by the person who attacked you.

On average, 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. one in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.

Jolee and I miss Sara everyday. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She had such a golden heart, it is completely unfair that her life was taken the way it was. Although I remember her for who she was and what she did, I hope to talk about her passing as a way for people to come forward and share their stories. You are not alone. If you see something, please say something. You never know who you may be saving. I promise you, their families will appreciate it more than they can describe.

Over time, I’ve come to accept that maybe she was physically taken from me, so that she could be my guardian angel. She couldn’t always be with me physically, but spiritually I know that she is always with me. As hard of a subject as domestic violence is, I promise to always step forward and to speak up. Domestic violence or any type of abuse, is never the answer.

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, please check out COVE’s (Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters) website at http://www.callcove.com/ for resources and help.

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