Remembering Barbara Jean…

Barbra Jean

Remembering Barbara Jean

“I remember clearly talking to Barb on the phone in the morning on that day.  Barb was working at the Chamber just for the morning, by herself, and she was in such a happy mood.  She told me that she had dinner with Tim the night before, and how much she enjoyed being with him.  I told her I was so glad that she had found someone who made her so happy.  At the end of the call, we said I love you to each other, and Merry Christmas.  I never imagined this would be the last conversation that I would ever have with my sister”.

“…Before it happened, Barb had done a funny Facebook post about sisters. Linda and I had both commented on it. I remember it so well, and I remember that just before he took her from all of us she was thinking of us. We were all thinking of each other”.

“When I got the call from Laurie that Barb had been killed my first thought was why. I knew that their divorce was not amicable, but I never thought he would do something like that”.

“I can still hear my mom’s voice in my head as she cried into the phone, ‘He killed her, Katie.  She’s dead’”.

On December 23, 2016, our beloved Barbie was murdered.  She was a victim of domestic violence; a murder-suicide.  Barb was the 17th known person to be murdered due to domestic violence in Minnesota.  She was so much more than a statistic, though.  She was our mother, our sister, our aunt, our grandmother, and our friend.

There are some who do not want her story to be told – it’s too painful…it brings up too many hard memories…it sheds a negative light on someone people loved.  But for Barb’s sake, and for every other victim lost to domestic violence, we will not be silenced.  We choose to share her story on the anniversary of her death in the hope that it will raise awareness about domestic violence.

We choose to share her story not to relive the painful memories, but because we believe sharing it will continue to shed her brilliant light on this world.  Someone tried to stifle that light, but we know as long as we keep her memory alive, and as long as we continue to tell her story, her light will never fade.

Yes, this is a story of great loss and perpetual grief, but this is also a story of hope.  At the time, we did not know the severity of her situation.  We did not know then that he was capable of the senseless violence that took her from us.  We could not have known, because she never wanted to burden us with her fears that he would hurt her – that was Barbie’s way.  Now we know.  But now, we are filled with hope that her story will inspire others in her situation to confide in someone and seek help.

Nobody deserves to become a victim to domestic violence.  Already in 2017, Minnesota has seen 21 people murdered due to domestic violence, surpassing the 2016 total.  21 precious lives lost too soon.  Each one with a unique story – ending the same way.  While their voices have been silenced, ours have not.  Today and every day, we choose to be truth-tellers, we choose to be advocates, we choose to empower those who feel voiceless.  Because by remaining silent, the abuser wins.

According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, “For someone surviving domestic violence, connection is essential. Knowing someone is there and cares about what is happening can be a lifeline”. If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation of any kind, we urge you to seek help.

There are several resources available –

  • Day One® Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1.866.223.1111
  • Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women:
  • HOPE Center 24-hour Safeline (Rice County): 1.607.2330
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.799.7233 or 1.800.787.3224

We hope that Barb’s story will resonate with you on some level.  Maybe you, too, have experienced the loss of a loved one and can deeply understand what it means to have a permanent hole in your heart.

Maybe you are a survivor, or are surviving a domestic violence situation and you know what it means to live in constant fear of wondering if tomorrow might be your last day.

Maybe you are someone that knew Barb; knew the beautiful light and energy she bestowed on her friends, family, and community, and are profoundly missing her presence.

Whoever you are, we hope you know that even though Barbie is no longer with us in person, her spirit remains alive and well because of the unconditional love and support we saw from our community, because of the bonds of family that were strengthened in a situation that was meant to break us, and because we continue to share her story to help others.

People are not statistics and domestic violence doesn’t choose its victims based on gender, sexuality, or economic status.  Because of this, we will use our voices for good – nothing, not even death, can silence us.

Authored by:  Katie Laughlin, with quotes provided by Pat Fliegel, Laurie Johnson and Linda Laughlin.