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Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Gift of words - from survivors and activists to the parents of Crystal Judson

Intro by Renee' Harrington

"April 26th [2008] is the five-year anniversary of Crystal Judson's OIDV murder. On April 26, 2003 Crystal's ex-husband, Chief David Brame [Tacoma Washington PD] shot and killed Crystal. It was the shot that was heard around the world by victims and survivors of Officer-Involved Domestic Violence.
Since Crystal's murder, her parents Lane and Patty Judson and Deon Gates [National OIDV] have worked diligently to open the eyes of people everywhere to the plight of victims of Officer-Involved Domestic Violence. And most importantly, they have directed their tireless efforts and voices to bringing about change for victims of OIDV.
I want people to remember...to take pause...and to remember the real reason we are here, when they come to this site during the anniversary week of Crystal's murder. We're not just a resource site; we are here to give voice to the victims of OIDV and to the surviving family members of OIDV murders."

To the Family of Crystal Judson
My heart broke for you when you lost your beautiful Crystal. I know first hand the nightmare of dealing with an abusive police officer and often thought "that could have been me".
My thoughts and prayers are with you today. I know that nothing anyone can say can take away the pain, but know that there are many people sending you much love today!
Happy Birthday Crystal, you are in the arms of the angels!
~ Jennifer

Dear Mr. Judson,
As an advocate for survivors (and victims) of domestic violence, I want to tell you your work is astounding and groundbreaking in what it will do to help in the area of this society's attitude about domestic violence...
Part of the problem is our society's attitude toward DV and you are doing so much to change that.  Bless your poor daughter and her children.   And blessings to you and your wife.  I heard today is her birthday and, having a husband who lost his wife and sons who lost their Mom when she was just 33, I know holidays and birthdays are difficult.
I'm praying for you and your family, and the important work you continue to do.
Many Blessings,

To Crystals Family..
My Thoughts and Prayers are with you today and every day. I want to Thank you for all you have accomplished towards Domestic Violence. You have reached out to others when doors have closed. Even though your own heart aches yours is always open to someone elses. And when a tear may fall upon a cheek, your eyes do not see a smile from the words they may hear you speak. God Bless you
DV Survivor

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lane
I know that, it is still very difficult for both of you for the lost of your daughter.  I remember so well reading about your daughter's story.
As a survivor of domestic violence and still in the _______ State Court fighting for my justice, I have such a sense of guilt and extremely sadden for you and your family because, I am still here fighting for my justice.
I am truly sorry for all your pain.  My prayers are with you and the children always.
Respectably yours

From: Shields for Christ
Today I sat and really took my time to see your page. My heart broke on the story about Crystal. What a terrible waste such a beautiful woman. My heart goes out to her family. Here in San Antonio I make it a point to seek out anyone that might be or are in domestic violence. God did not instruct men to treat the precious gift (wife) He has given them that way. We are to adore, love and protect them. I am so sorry your city had to go through this. I pray that this will never happen again there or anywhere else.<><

Mr. and Mrs. Judson,
I am very sorry for what happened to your daughter.  I myself was a victim of sort.  My girlfriend was murdered by her ex-husband. The coward didn't kill himself. He had a very shady background and should never had been given a job in law enforcement. I would love to discuss the situation with you and maybe get some ideas on how to help support your cause.
Thank you for your time.

From Miriam Barnet
As the Executive Director of the YWCA, I am committed to spending my time, energy and money to find additional resources for women who are victims of DV.  The YWCA is working hard towards a dream of a new campus to serve women who are fleeing domestic violence.  Our current facility was designed by visionary women in 1927.  It was not designed as a shelter.  It was designed as a place where single traveling women could be safe for the night.  It is time to be visionary again.  We need better space, more space and new space for women and children in need of safe space.

I would like to share this powerful quote [by Jill Ruckelshaus] which was read at the YWCA fundraising luncheon on April 23.

We are in for a very, very long haul.
 I am asking for everything you have to give.
We will never give up.
You will lose your youth, your sleep, your patience, your sense of humor and occasionally the understanding and support of people that you love very much.
In return I have nothing to offer you but your pride in being a woman, and all your dreams you've ever had for your daughters, and nieces, and granddaughters,
your future and the certain knowledge that at the end of your days you will be able to look back and say that once in your life you gave everything you had for justice.

We must continue to work together and give everything we have for justice.  Until the day comes when domestic violence ends, our energy, our passion and our commitment to the cause must keep going strong.  As Naomi Tutu said at our luncheon, “If we can end apartheid, we can end domestic violence.”  We must never lose hope that this could be true.
With hope that we will someday have peace, justice, dignity, freedom and safety for all people,

Miriam Barnett
Executive Director
YWCA Pierce County
253 272 4181 ext 223

Just wanted to tell the Judson’s this:
There will never be another Crystal, but look at the wonderful memories she left for the world.
Crystal left us a beautiful legacy in her children, and her bravery gave us agents for change in her parents.
I always have a Purple adornment on my person to remind me of Crystal.
China Fortson

To Patty and Lane Judson
5 Years, WOW!
For me it still seems like yesterday, i remember the intense fear i felt. I was wrapped up in trying to be strong, protecting myself and my children... I felt so alone, afraid for my life. When i heard about Cystal, it was surreal. I had always thought i was the only one to experience abuse by a police officer. I was glued to her story, i cried for her for days... screaming in pain for her children. Crystal's story gave me the strength to continue to fight for the lives of my children.
I have changed, my children aren't in danger anymore, and now...thanks to Deon, i have others who i can talk to, share stories with and hopefully support others who are in need.
It's so good to be here...
From C in WA


For Crystal's parents:
"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
My hope for you both, and for the many, many other victims of law enforcement and military DV, is that with Crystal's spirit guiding you and the power of the universe behind you, that changes to attitudes and to the law will happen - that these changes will be universal and forever. That ANYONE suffering from DV, past, present and future, will know that there IS help, that millions of us care enough to stand up and say "ENOUGH" and that Crystal mattered...she mattered a lot.
With loving-kindness,
Fiona (Australia)

{Contributed by a member that gets PLENTY press herself.}
I'm writing to express my condolences on this difficult anniversary of Ms Judson's death. I'm sorry for her family and for all those who experience grief since this tragedy occurred but am glad to see that the issue of domestic violence and misogyny against women shown by LE officers is getting addressed, although it shouldn't take tragedies plus hard work from community activists to persuade governmental officials and police agencies to do the right thing. That should come from a good heart, but we all know that's not what usually happens... Thanks for the support. I did get some local press looking into the issue involving the detective so hopefully some heat will be put on the city if they do even think of settling the case. I'm hoping he didn't win his arbitration hearing or something like that which makes settlement much more likely. In California, it's next to impossible to find out the truth in relation to personnel issues with LE officers especially investigations, discipline, appeals, etc.
Crystal Judson's murder is a reminder of how important it is to view officers' mistreatment of women as something to address and expose and deal with rather than cover up and pretend it doesn't happen. Women and men everywhere need to keeping fighting this fight.

Dear Lane and Patty,
I did not know that today is Crystal's birthday. Shortly before Deon sent this bulletin out, I visited your website and Crystal's page. Knowing that the 26th is near, and that May 8th is, as well, I uploaded over 50 photos, the first being Crystal. I created a special photo album with which I was carefully planning a new "Bobbi" tradition...a tradition I decided a few days ago to implement on Bobbi's page, beginning on April 26th.

Before I could complete the new photo album, Deon posted this bulletin and the news of Crystal's birthday completely sidetracked me. Therefore, the tradition I planned to start on the 26th was moved. I have replaced Bobbi's profile photo with Crystal's...Crystal's photo will replace Bobbi's through the 26th.

I know that there is not much one can say to ease the pain and anxiety you will endure this week. But, I do want you to know that I keep you all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.

Two weeks from today will be the 27 year anniversary of Bobbi's death and I can already feel the emotions, associated with the upcoming date, that you are so familiar with. For my family, this year is different and very significant, as Aaron Foster has finally been brought to justice to answer for his crime.

Deon is the first person I met on the internet, even before I came to MySpace. I remember the day I first learned of Crystal...before I met Deon. And, I remember Deon learned of Bobbi before she met me. Before I met Deon, I used to watch her slideshow (and listen to that, simply, beautiful little piano song) over and over and over, again. Then, one day, I recieved a letter from Deon. She was planning to write "the most extensive article she's written on her blog" about Bobbi. I was so touched...and, today, I consider Deon one of my dearest friends (even though we've never met in person).

Crystal, Deon, and the two of you have served as, and taught me the definition of, true inspiration...

God Bless you!
Love always,

Lane and Patty,
One of the greatest honors I have ever had, was when I spoke with both of you on the phone in November of 2007.I had first seen the both of you on TV, speaking out about your daughter Crystal's murder and about officer-involved domestic violence about four years ago....and I have never been so moved. I sobbed over Crystal's murder...I sobbed over your family's loss of Crystal...and I sobbed when you gallantly spoke out, because I had never before heard anyone publicly talk about the taboo subject of police domestic violence.

In 1998, I was almost killed by my ex-boyfriend, a sheriff deputy. I was so emotionally beaten up by the sheriff department and the community for daring to have my abuser arrested, that I had begun to believe that I would just have to learn to live with the consequences. There was not one aspect of my life that had not been shredded to bits and destroyed because of my decision to fight for justice...and I was just going to have to learn to deal with the consequences of my decision to speak out.

I probably would have continued in that downward spiral of self hatred, shame, disgust, and of having given up on myself, if it had not been for the both of you. For the first time in years, I felt hope that I would once again be able to live the life that I had worked hard for and which I deserved. The both of you lit a fire under me and motivated me in more ways than you can imagine.

In my endeavors to reclaim my life, I was fortunate to stumble upon the incredible and wonderful Deon Gates...who has not only guided me, but has held fastly to my hand [refusing to let go], during this entire journey. And what a journey Deon and I have been on together...with the both of you as my guiding light.

In 1998, after Deputy Parker was arrested for his attempt on my life, I was told that I would be blackballed forever from ever working in law enforcement or victimology. In 2007, I applied my knowledge from previously having written two dv/crime victim programs for Monroe County Michigan...and I authored a rough draft of the Michigan Officer-Involved Domestic Violence [OIDV] legislation.

In 1998, I had been told that no one cared about what I or other victims of officer-involved domestic violence endured. I was also told that no one would listen to me. In 2007, I had the opportunity to speak to numerous Michigan state legislators about officer-involved domestic violence ...and not only did they listen, but they cared - they were outraged at the injustices that these victims are subjected to.

In 1998, I was told that I would never again be able to work with dv/crime victims, because of what I did to Deputy Parker [had him arrested for his attempt on my life]. In 2007, with the help of Deon and her incredible officer-involved domestic violence research, I began the Michigan Officer Involved Domestic Violence website that concentrated on my former state.

In 2007, I reached out and for the first time since 1998, I was able to do my heart's passion...the job I was blackballed from for life: victimology. I had the honor of advocating for the Aukerman family, after Pam Aukerman was brutally murdered by her ex-husband, Officer Kevin Brainard [Plainwell, MI].

When Pam's community began downplaying the domestic violence and began blaming Pam for her own murder, I knew what I would have to do: publicly speak out for the first time since 1998. I thought of how your speaking out had effected my life and thousands of other officer-involved domestic violence victim's lives. It ended up being the first time that the media in Michigan covered the subject of officer-involved domestic violence ...and also how domestic violence agencies regularly deny these victims assistance.

But the most important thing to come out of that first interview that I saw of the both of you, was when I handed down the same gift of voice you had given me, to Jen Aukerman [sister of Pam Aukerman]. Jen had wanted to speak out about officer-involved domestic violence and her sister's murder, but being in the middle of a custody battle over her slain sister Pam's daughter, the attorneys were telling her she had to remain silent. Jen was frustrated that she was being silenced... but at the same time, she didn't want to jepordize the custody case.

Jen was so moved by your daughter Crystal's journal, that she decided to be interviewed by the media in January 2008... but only on her terms: OIDV would be addressed; OIDV was to be recognized as different from general domestic violence; and the need for OIDV laws and programs would be addressed - along with how dv agencies were denying victims of OIDV assistance. Jen's interview was incredible! She is one of the most incredible voices for victims of OIDV.

Your gift of voice for us didn't stop there. After speaking with you on the phone, Laura Spars [Pam's BESTEST friend] was so motivated, that she began the Michigan Officer-Involved Domestic Violence Corp. We are on our way to making a difference for other victims of OIDV, and to think, it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't seen the both of you speaking out after Crystal's murder.

I cannot imagine how incredibly difficult Crystal's murder must be for the both of you, but I just needed to assure you that you are making a difference for hundreds, maybe thousands of these formerly ignored victims everywhere...and for that, I thank you. Thank you for seeing through your pain and suffering in order to unselfishly devote your lives to giving others life and for lending us your voice. Thank you for rescuing me and refusing to give up on me.

Renee' Harrington, Michigan  OIDV Corp
Silence: the number one killer of victims of officer involved domestic violence

From: SJ
...I love where I am in my life.  Hooray to you for doing this.  Hooray to you for creating an awareness that this problem even exists....

I am so sorry for your loss.  There simply are no words to ease the anguish of losing a loved one from any kind of violence, much less from a trusted, loved person who can become so changed.

I was married for 17 years to a man who had been a police officer for 13 years before I met him.  He then became a fire department battalion chief, and retired after about 17 years.  Although there were times during our 17 years together when our life together was bearable, much of it was violent and angry and hurtful.  Although we did not have children together, he had 3 who lived with their mother, I had one who lived with us.  I have wondered MANY times what kind of damage I did to my son growing up in a home with such bitterness and anger.

After 3 years of marriage, it became so apparent things were not good.  At that time he was arrested for DV and ordered to go to Anger Management.  The only purpose that served was to make him MORE angry!  I should have left then.  The next 14 years were a living hell.  He finally took a vacation without me, and during that time, I found the courage to leave him, and I moved out.

I spent the next five years in a bitter divorce. About the time I would believe it was over, it wasn't.  He just wanted revenge, and wanted to do all in his power to hurt me - physically, financially, mentally....  whatever would work.  The last eight years found me working, buying my own house, cars, pets....  I discovered me.  I discovered what peace there was in not having someone badger you with hatred.  I sit for HOURS just rocking and listening to the sound of silence.  And I am so happy for that.

I found when I went to find help, a whole lot of lip-service, and no honest to goodness nuts and bolts concrete HELP.  A place to stay.  A person to listen.  A person to help me load furniture, and possessions.  Someone to help me with the very basics of life.  Someone who would somewhat take charge, or give me a list of decisions I needed to make.  I was completely exhausted, and had no idea what to do or where to go.  I had been married for 17 years!   I had no idea how to go about applying for credit or locating an apartment.  I moved at night in the cold November darkness - alone.  I never felt so all alone, and I was terrified if anyone found my dark, deep secret, they would tell him, and he would kill me.

I will never completely get over those hurts, but I am ALIVE again.  I am at peace.  I am happy.  I love where I am in my life.  Hooray to you for doing this.  Hooray to you for creating an awareness that this problem even exists.  This man had absolute power over people he didn't like.  He could arrest them.  Take away their freedom.  He was a chief.  He had POWER and he had AUTHORITY.  He  could truly make people's lives hell, and he carried that power and authority to a detrimental end to his marriage.  No person, man or woman, should have to live like that.  Too many do.

Bless you, and the good deeds you do.  Your daughter was beautiful.  What a waste.  Keep the peace.

From Cloudwriter
Lane and Patty, Jennifer Drake shared that she found the strength to speak out about her own sister's murder when (and because) she read Crystal's journal.

[MI] Sister of murdered cop's wife Pam Aukerman speaks out
..."We need a place where if they walk in that door and say that they're being abused, regardless of who it is, what it is, you know, they are going to get that help"...

There are so many like Jennifer effected by you both and by Crystal.

Crystal DID NOT mean for her journal to serve that purpose, but it has, does, and I'm sure will continue to. Others will gain strength to leave, fight, or flee because of what your daughter left on those pages. Crystal's bravery and her fear are now a lifeline for others. You know how sorry I am that she was stolen from you this way, and at the same time I don't know of any other woman's stolen life that has given others this much motivation to break free or change how things are. More bitter than sweet for you - but her death already is not in vain. So much for so many has come of the collective horror and grief of your loss.

I hope to meet her one day.

And now, how many others have you set on their own paths to make changes? How many people have stood up and stopped being afraid because they've come to love you both, and your daughter? How many have taken action because you made this real for them, or introduced them to the magnitude of the problem and it's deadliness. From what I"ve seen and heard over these past five years I know that the number can't be counted.

In descriptions of you both the word "tireless" has almost become over-used, and it's inaccurate. I know you do tire. I'd say you are both tenacious to fulfull the promise made to Crystal that you would do all you can.

Crystal's tragic loss of her life and her bravery - together with your tenacity to effect the monster that killed your daughter and thousands of others - has lit a fire and made this world we live in more hopeful and a better place.

You're even reaching children. That's a promise of a better tomorrow.

May God mightily bless you both, and bless all that you do.

(You have angels by your side, and one of them is extra pretty.)

Much love,

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