PHOTOS BY: Michael Crisafulli
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. It is lso the thirst leading cause of homesless in families. Each year, 2 million injuries and 1,300 injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused as a result of domestic violence. Three women are murdered every day by an intimate partner. Every nine seconds a women is a victim of domestic abuse in the United States.
These statistics are staggering. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. It is lso the thirst leading cause of homesless in families. Each year, 2 million injuries and 1,300 injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused as a result of domestic violence. Three women are murdered every day by an intimate partner. Every nine seconds a women is a victim of domestic abuse in the United States. These statistics are staggering.
As you may know, October is domestic violence awareness month across the country. There are walks, events, purple ribbons all across cities throughout the nation. Every day, news headlines report the latest incident of a loss of life from the hand of a loved one.
Women, children, and even men are being abused at an alarming rate. No one is free from this epidemic. It can happen to you whether it is mentl, or physical.
Many women who experience domestic violence suffer in silence, carrying a “badge of shame.” No one knows they too were a victim. Many women use what happened to become strong and to empower others.
On Saturday, Rochester Woman participated in the annual “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” 5k sponsored by Willow. It is an annual event held at Charlotte Beach. There is even a contest for the best shoes. But, this isn’t any old shoe contest. They invite men to wear women’s shoes. The higher, the crazier, the better.
The VIP club that was brought up on stage was made up of law enforcement chiefs, legislators, county officials and even Miss New York.
It was amazing to see the comradery amongst the participants. Everyone was comforting to one another. It was uplifting to see women sharing their stories, although in some cases, heartwrenching.
One of our youngest survivors who walked a mile in her own shoes was Kaitlyn. She wore a t-shirt with her mother’s picture on it and on the back was a hand-written statement saying “I miss my Mommy”.
Rochester Woman Online teamed up with Mrs. American Dream 2017, Christy Dunster and “Tiaras of Hope”. Tiaras was featured in the September edition. This charity “crowns” survivors. They were present at the RWO monthly expo held October 15, 2017. Our youngest survivor Kaitlyn was crowned.
In 2012, David Lopez killed his wife Sara. He is now serving (62-to-Life). Sara was a military wife. The couple was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska. Sara, originally from the Rochester area,was alienated from friends and family living in Alaska. Like any typical day, Sara’s 2- year-old daughter Kaitlyn, stayed home with her father when she went to the store. When Sara returned from running errands, her daughter was bruised. When she took her daughter to the hospital, officials believed the bruise was from her being struck with the butt of a gun. CPS was immediately involved.
The turn of events is horrific. CPS took Kaitlyn into custody. When Sara returned home, her husband was enraged. He made a call to state officials threatening to kill them all. Sara tried to leave and was basically executed by her husband. She was shot in the head. There were no shelters. The couple’s daughter, Kaitlyn is now left behind to grow up without her parents.
Kaitlyn’s grandmother gained custody after almost two years and moved her granddaughter Kaitlyn back to the Rochester area. How does a family recover after such a tragedy?
Pam Knoeferl tells Rochester Woman:
“The death of my daughter crushed me as she was my only child. I was hurt, angry and didn’t even want to live. I pushed everyone away from me. I secluded myself. All I wanted was my daughter back. My husband felt the same way. We were crushed beyond words. Sara was our life. We were not the same after her death. Sara died December 12, 2012. My husband died December 11, 2014 of cancer but I truly believe he died of a broken heart. It’s very hard to move on without my daughter. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t here. But I go on because of Kaitlyn. She needs me and I need her.
When this all happened, Kaitlyn was in 2 different foster homes in Alaska. Kaitlyn suffers from nightmares, bed-wetting, crying for her mom and anger. She started pulling her hair out. She wanted her mom and acted out because she is gone. She suffers from abandonment issues and is afraid. She is also afraid her father will get out of prison and kill her too. It took Pam 3 years to get the adoption finalized.
If your daughter is a victim, seek help and get them shelter. My daughter did not have that chance. There were no shelters in Alaska and she had no friends or family there to protect her. There were some signs that something was wrong. Sara was depressed and sad. I asked her to come home. She said it would be okay. She didn’t want to talk about it. She was afraid of him.
All I can do now is focus on Kaitlyn. I help my granddaughter by understanding her feelings and letting her express them. I let her know her mother loved her. We talk about what happened to her mother”.
Pam and Kaitlyn are lucky they have close friends Sabrina and Athena Mastrella to assist them. Sabrina and Athena help Pam by driving them to appointments and or spending time with Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn feels at home now with her family and friends. Interestingly, the women sell Tupperware. Kaitlyn enjoys being involved and helping with food demonstrations. At 7, she asks for Tupperware for Christmas!
Domestic violence is an issue which affects our society. It affects communities and it affects families. This is an epidemic. It happens in our backyard. It happens to anyone. It has no face or targeted victim. Anyone can be a victim. We need to work on people being survivors. It will not get better. The person will not change. You must be the change. Get out of the situation. Find the strength. Kaitlyn is a survivor! Rochester Woman salutes her and her family for surviving what they went through. No family should have to go through this. It happens every day. Rise from the ashes. That’s all there is left to do. Over the next few months, Rochester Woman will be sponsoring a drive for this family for Christmas. We will be publishing Kaitlyn’s wish list along with a list of drop off zones.