This Saturday April 3rd marks the one year anniversary since my good friend, Krystal was taken from us. She left a loving mother and two boys. I’m going to be careful telling her story because I do not want to jeopardize court proceedings. So if I do seem somewhat cryptic, it’s because of that. I met Krystal back in 2015, I was a new firearm instructor. From the very beginning, as a company we focused a lot of our program development on women. In the Firearm industry typically women are the most underserved and the fastest growing demographic.. I started with a women’s only CHL (Concealed Handgun License) Class. This class focused solely on situational awareness, women’s concealment options and women’s empowerment. It was a big hit from the very beginning. Women finally had a safe space for them to come and learn. They grew from the experience, it was amazing to watch. I remember Krystal came from the very beginning. She was interested in learning these important skills to help her overcome a domestic violence situation. She came to us at the beginning, broken, confused and needing guidance. After her first class we helped her develop a plan to further education and growth. She kept joining us on the range. I noticed a shift in her attitude. The empowerment we were working on was helping her! I was so proud of her!

After a few months of her training with us she seemed like a new person. She was strong, confident, and was well on her way to being independent. Our empowerment training gave her the strength to make important life changes for her and her boys. She loved them very much. The issue with DV is that sometimes it is a cycle, and it can be hard to break. As an instructor I hear horror stories all the time. While I want to save everyone, I can’t always do that. I can offer input and support resources. I cannot save those that aren’t willing to be saved. Getting out of a DV situation is one of the most difficult situations someone can escape. A lot of times the abuser controls the finances, making an escape almost impossible. Typically there can be mental abuse, physical abuse, and sexual. This can effect men and women, the data supports that most DV situations effect women at a higher rate. As much as we worked together, Krystal was trying to break that cycle. As time went on our friendship grew. I ended up offering her a position on my staff. She got certified by the NRA as a RSO. She started helping us on the line. She was doing great and it was great to watch her growth. Helping other women helped her develop the strength she needed to change her life. The change would benefit everyone around her.

As time passed she started volunteering at the Springfield Police Department. She had a goal of becoming a police officer. She completed the Citizens Academy and was well on her way. She eventually got a job at Lane Community College as a Security Officer. She was excelling, this was a new Krystal. One that had a goal, direction, and was focused on making it happen. Everything was going great, her life was good. Her family was growing and they were doing good. That all changed when she met “him.” I will not name him, I will not give evil a place on my platform. I saw the signs, I saw the change in her. She was beginning to spiral out of control. She was trapped once again. The circle of DV had her in its clutches. As her family and friends we were helpless. She was on her own. It’s common for abusers to isolate their victims from their support system. The isolation helps further the control. Many times it is a phycological game that they play, the longer it goes on the more dangerous it is for those in that position. I remember our last conversation vividly, it was like I could predict the future. I will never forget where I was when I got the news. I found out what had happened before it had hit the news. I was devastated, still am. A year has passed and we are still living this nightmare. What most don’t understand is how DV doesn’t just effect the family. It can truly effect the entire community. As an advocate for DV I will continue to fight for those that need help. Throughout this process I did meet with the Lane County DA. She mentioned that Lane County prosecutes around 900 DV cases annually and that because of Covid that number is trending upwards. We need to stop this.

The point of this blog post is to pay respect to the memory of my good friend Krystal, to tell her story, but to also raise awareness of DV in our state and country. The epidemic of domestic violence is at an all time high. It is important that we watch our circles of families and friends. Look for signs of abuse or abnormal behavior. Many times the victims will post on social media in a weird or cryptic way. You might need to read between the lines, if you do see something make sure that you reach out. Check on them. Be a resource for them. Often times the pattern of abuse is a lonely experience. The victims will feel trapped, they will not always reach out for help. Be that person that is willing to be a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to lean on, and most importantly a person of action. It literally could be the difference in life or death, be part of the solution. On our website under the “Krystal’s Story” there are resources that can help someone in a time of duress. There is the contact information for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Click on the dial from your phone and it will automatically dial the 800 number. In closing I’m really not looking forward to the next chapter in Krystal’s story, the legal portion. I will be there for her family, I will advocate for her, and I will see it through. Krystal, I know you are still there, watching over us, rooting for us. It has been a long year without you. It’s my hope that your story helps others. I will look after your mom and the boys. Till we meet again, rest in paradise! Until next time, be safe!!