Violent crime leaves a vortex of pain in its wake. The system offers a small measure of justice for the victims, but the families are left behind. I’ve spoken with mothers who lost their sons, and fathers who lost daughters. The single common thread among them was helplessness. There was nothing they could have done to prevent their loved one’s death, but the self doubt will linger for a lifetime.
Life is different after that kind of loss. I’ve seen the bitterness eat away at the survivor’s soul until there is nothing left but pain, contempt and a picture on a mantel. Each one deals with the loss from violent crime their own way, and I prey I never have to find my way down that black path. The truly exceptional survivors channel that emotional trauma into something positive in the memory of their lost ones. There are dozens of victim’s rights organizations across the country that fight for stronger laws, victims’ bills of rights, and restitution. Some see it as a way for their son or daughter to live on in something tangible.
One remarkable man is Mike Reynolds. He is the force behind California’s Three Strike Law and I had the honor of serving on a panel with him discussing the collection of DNA from convicted felons. He recounted the story of how his daughter was senselessly murdered in the course of a robbery. The energy, passion and selfless devotion he poured into holding criminals accountable saved others from experiencing his tragedy. While I worked inside the system, I couldn’t publicly praise his efforts, because it might cost more to incarcerate violent felons. What’s a life worth? Ask the families of the 2,000 murder victims in California each year.
My novel, Little River, is a fictional account of the disappearance of two young women and the powerful emotions experienced by their families. There is nothing a parent wouldn’t do.