I PROMISED I WOULD NEVER FORGET AUSTIN
Victim speaks out to help stop domestic violence
By D. AILEEN DODD
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/02/07
[EXCERPTS] She doesn't have a pulpit, fame or a national spotlight to shine on her pain. Ladonna Wilkerson suffers in silence. She's one of the real faces of domestic violence. The everyday woman whose smile masks a terrible secret. Hers is chilling. Wilkerson, 34, a Medicaid investigator, and her 4-year-old son, Austin Tyler Hayslip, were shot by the man who asked to marry her... The Partnership Against Domestic Violence will sponsor two events in the metro area this month to honor the memories of victims who have been hurt or killed by loved ones... Wilkerson plans to share her chilling testimony at both events, which are free and open to the public. Her son was shot to death Sept. 21, 2004, as he stood outside with his mother at the Dougherty County Pre-K building.Wilkerson's estranged boyfriend, a police officer who had taken an oath to protect and serve, said he was angry because Wilkerson planned to move to metro Atlanta with their son. He shot his girlfriend, shot her son and then killed himself... Wilkerson said counseling and prayer helped her to survive domestic violence. Now, instead of living with anger, she uses her energy for education through the Austin Tyler Vision of Life Foundation, which will hold a charity event to unite survivors later this month at New Mercies Christian Church in Lilburn. "I'm not a victim, I'm a victor," Wilkerson said. "I'm still standing. God is good."