This month’s #SurvivorSunday feature is a fearless advocate and the epitome of resiliency after trauma, Ms. Kris Anglin Barney. After the loss of her 3 year old daughter, Miranda, at the hands of her father, Kris set out on a mission to change domestic abuse laws. With the memory of her daughter and the pain of her grief pushing her, she shares how she turned tragedy into triumph and dreams of a world without domestic violence.
Have you ever experienced a traumatic event so horrifying that it completely changed you? Have you stared into the mirror and realized you don’t even recognize the person staring back at you? And you say to yourself, “How am I going to survive this?”
“How am I going to get through this?”
I asked myself these very questions when my 3 yr old daughter, Miranda, was murdered by her father on a court ordered visit in the winter of 1999. She died on a January night in a cold concrete parking lot. I couldn’t believe my ears, but then again, I could. I had begged the court to please not give him joint custody. This, even after he was convicted and sentenced for stalking me, after he had violated his restraining order with me AND the woman he was seeing at the time. This, after multiple phone calls to police, his parents and to his place of employment (he was a Bossier City, Louisiana Fire Fighter). But no one would listen. “HE IS GOING TO KILL HER”, I would say. But no one would listen. Not police, not judges, not attorneys. No one. Handing over my child to a mad man was like Abraham laying his only son before God as a sacrifice; only for me I was handing my child over to the devil himself. In the blink of an eye, Miranda was gone. Forever. Shot twice in the head. She was ripped from this world by a man who should have been the one man she could trust in this world. Her own father. She was murdered by the one man who should have been her protector. How could he look into her beautiful blue eyes and pull the trigger? Not once. But twice? Ultimately police shot and killed him after he killed my daughter and the woman he had been dating.
Miranda was born on January 16,1995 and was killed January 12, 1999. She was just 4 days shy of her 4th birthday. Many people have asked me how I survived the murder of my child and my answer has always been: What choice did I have? What choice was I given but to figure out how to navigate this world without her? Charles didn’t give me a choice. I was left behind for a reason and I knew that in order to thrive, I needed to figure out how to live again. I needed to figure out how love again. I needed to figure out how to be happy again. I needed to figure out how to let go of the pain and bitterness I felt towards those who failed us.
I started by embracing my grief. It was mine and I was not going to let anyone take it from me. I knew that in order to move forward I needed to make it through this process. I began speaking out against Domestic Violence. I began advocating and supporting other women and children who were victimized not only by their abusive partners, but also by a justice system that continues to fail them. That meek and shy young woman disappeared. I became a driven force who decided that I was not going to lay down and die, but get up and fight. I was determined that I WOULD NOT BE SILENCED. Thrusting myself into my community with the love and support from my family allowed me to heal because I was giving back. I knew that I needed to honor Miranda by focusing on the goodness that could come from her tragic murder, rather than live my life in bitterness and hate.
Even though I was never physically abused, the mental and emotional abuse was debilitating. I fought this man for 3 years and I fought against a justice system that failed time and time again. If anyone thinks that an emotional abuser does not kill, the proof lies in a tiny grave in South Louisiana. My ex-husband knew the ultimate revenge would be to kill the one person that gave me life.
Since Miranda’s death in 1999, I have been an active Domestic Violence advocate and resiliency speaker traveling the country and telling Miranda’s story at Domestic Violence trainings and conventions. Not only do I share her tragic murder but also how I found hope and happiness again.
I have decided to stick with Love. Hate is too much of a burden to bear.” Dr. Martin Luther King.