Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund: Supporting the Prevention of Relationship Violence

   

Lindsay's Story

Lindsay could easily be described as “the girl next door”. She grew up on a small street in the suburbs, knowing all the neighbors and playing with all the children in the neighborhood. They went to school together, played in the neighborhood together, celebrated birthdays together, went to extra-curricular activities together, attended religious education classes together, and sometimes, even went on vacation together. Some of her closest friends from our old neighborhood felt much sadness and pain upon hearing of her murder, and some, as well as all who were close to Lindsay, still feel pain and sadness.

Lindsay attended North Kingstown schools and graduated from St. Mary Academy-Bay View in Rhode Island. During her school years, she was a typical child, playing with her friends on soccer teams for many years, as well as participating in many programs offered by our town’s recreation program, such as gymnastics when she was young, basketball during middle school, and going on lots of summer field trips. She took dance lessons for many years, as well as piano lessons. She was a natural on ice skates and skiis. During the summertime, she loved going to the beach with friends and family, and we have fond memories of her, her brother Chris, and their next door friends, Neal and Michael, playing creatively, making homemade movies—the Batman Moviefest—and putting on magic shows for their parents. While at North Kingstown High School, she played on the tennis team. She loved going on family vacations and we have many fond memories of our numerous trips. She loved traveling and always looked forward to going away with us, even as she got older. When she turned 16 she got a part-time job at Shaw’s Supermarket, working there for many years through college. She enjoyed working at Shaw’s and made many good friends there. She graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in elementary and special education and was looking forward to being a teacher until she met her soon-to-be murderer.

Lindsay was always a happy, somewhat carefree, child. She got along well with everyone. Many described her as “sweet and caring”. She was kind, compassionate, honest, and trusting. Everyone liked her. Her friends always told her she was a great listener, someone they could turn to with their problems. She recognized injustice in the world, and felt sorry for those who had experienced hardship in life, knowing that her life was a happy one free from hardship. She oftentimes would come home and tell us of children who had problems, all the time expressing compassion for them. I would often tell her that she possessed the qualities necessary to be a good teacher or even a social worker. When the tragic events of Sept. 11 occurred she immediately donated $75.00 to the 9/11 Fund. She barely made that much in a week at her part-time job, but that didn’t deter her. In addition, she had money taken weekly out of her meager part-time paycheck to donate to the United Way. That was Lindsay, always thinking of others. And yet, Lindsay was also a very assertive person, as a child, and as a young woman. In high school, she had no problem being persistent with her guidance counselor in regards to her schedule and even had no problem letting her unhappy feelings be known to the principal when she disagreed with school policy. One might expect a passive person to become a victim, and yet, that was not Lindsay.

She met her killer by chance, at a wedding. She was drawn to him by his compliments, the attention he paid to her, and his charming ways. She was basically swept off her feet and looked at the positive things she saw in him. She was mesmerized by him, and when the controlling behaviors started, she, like all victims, didn’t recognize them. They were insidious, occurring slowly, and when she did question them, she believed his excuses and apologies. She felt sorry for him, as he told her about his difficult childhood and she believed him. She was an honest person, and previously in her life, everyone she knew was honest with her. No one had ever lied to her or tried to deceive her. And so she did not recognize the lies when they started. Neither did she ever learn about abusive relationships in school. After her death, the president of her high school visited me and told me she was sorry that the topic of abusive relationships had not been taught to the girls when Lindsay was a student. Neither did she learn about it at the public school she had previously attended. Her family did not know about abusive relationships either, as none of us had ever known anyone who experienced this.

And so, Lindsay became a typical victim of abuse. Her abuser used every method to control her ( look at the Warning Signs ) – every one was present in this relationship. Once her family and friends realized that something was terribly wrong, we all spoke with her and continued to do so, trying our best to help her to recognize the abuse and leave him. She had support from friends and family, and still, was murdered. She experienced all the psychological effects of abuse, almost every one of them. After her death, even the police told us this was a classic case of abuse and that every aspect of her life was controlled by him. And every form of violence (abuse: verbal, emotional, sexual, physical, and financial) was used on her. Being so young, inexperienced, compassionate, trusting, and naïve, she became the perfect victim and he was the ultimate abuser.

After her death, her family received more than 300 cards, many of them from former classmates, from elementary school straight through college, as well as co-workers. Several people explained that they had only taken one college class with Lindsay, but that she had made such an impression on them, with her wonderful sense of humor, her sincerity, and her open and caring ways that they felt compelled to write to us and let us know how Lindsay had touched their lives and how saddened they were to hear of her death. So many cards, from so many friends and co-workers, all describing Lindsay in the same way. Her death, indeed, is a tremendous loss to all of us who knew her and loved her.

To honor Lindsay’s life, we have chosen to speak out and help others become educated. By remaining silent, abusers are empowered. Education gives us power, the power to recognize an abusive relationship and help ourselves and others. If you are a victim, seek help from your state Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Be sure to have an emergency plan, and do not underestimate your abuser. Remember Lindsay, and save yourself. If you are a friend or family member of a victim, educate yourself, and have the knowledge, patience, and determination to help them. If you are not a victim, and don’t know anyone who is, be thankful, but not complacent. Educate yourself and others, for you never know when that information might come in handy. Above all, we must understand that abuse CAN happen to ANYONE, just like it did to our Lindsay.

by  Lindsay's Mom
 
Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund