She had a brand new college degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
A family bursting with pride, with love. A wonderful job lined up with a well-known international food company.
And a boyfriend who killed her – three weeks after this photo was taken.
With her entire life ahead of her.
Kristin was in the process of ending the relationship when her boyfriend came to her Conshohocken, Pa. apartment. He had some possessive tendencies.
Kristin didn’t know that breaking up with her boyfriend – something that young adults do every day – would leave him so violent, so enraged that he would stab her more than 50 times in her own kitchen. She didn’t know what domestic violence experts know, that statistics show that the leaving is the most dangerous time in a relationship.
She didn’t know that she was, at 21, a victim of domestic abuse.
It is because of the efforts of her friends and family, who established The Kristin Mitchell Foundation in her memory, that many more people now know what Kristin and her friends tragically did not.
That dating violence is real.
That it is prevalent.
That women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of dating violence – almost three times the national average – according to the Bureau of Justice.
That there are warning signs.
That there is help.
That it can and does happen on idyllic college campuses to 21 year old students whose whole lives are ahead of them.
We worry about our kids as we send them back to school, as we let go. We worry about who they choose to accept into their midst, whether it is on an innocent playground or an idyllic college campus.
We worry about what they don’t know, and what we also don’t know.
And we worry about what we do know, about what lurks, who is plotting harm, who we know (and who we don’t) that has the capability to stab us 50 times, in our kitchen or randomly on the street in broad daylight.
Sometimes, as in the tragedy that befell the Mitchell family eight years ago, our greatest fears and those we didn’t know were our greatest fears actually become our own personal reality show, one with reruns nonstop on every unchangeable channel of our lives.
And then it is back to the beginning, of trying to prevent and spread awareness and educate and inform of the dangers we know are out there.
Of keeping vigil for a daughter and remaining vigilant for all the other daughters in name only.
Of keeping hold of a memory and letting go of privacy.
Of keeping one’s age forever 21 instead of laughing about turning another year older.
Today would have been Kristin Mitchell’s 30th birthday. I’ve repeated versions of this post on special days because doing so might make a difference in the life of one person and one family. Because if one family doesn’t have to live the nightmare of the Mitchell family, and if one person is saved, then that is all that matters.
I never met Kristin, yet my posts about her are among the most-read posts on this blog, according to the search term statistics. I don’t know whether that is good or bad. All I know is that she continues to help save lives and make a difference. I’m only the messenger here.