For families of homicide victims, pain never goes away. A month-long effort aims to raise awareness
As family and friends gather for the holidays, it can be hard on people who've lost loved ones, and especially those who've died from homicide.
Connecticut state officials now mark Nov. 20 through Dec. 20 as a time to remember and support survivors of homicide and raise awareness. Survivors and state officials gathered on Monday at the Legislative Office Building to observe the state's first Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month.
Intimate partner violence claimed the lives of 309 Connecticut residents over the last two decades, according to Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. She says the toll of that loss is widespread.
“When someone is lost to homicide, it’s not just their life that is stolen, but there are 10 survivors, on average, who suffer from that trauma,” she said.
LaQuvia Jones of New Haven has lost both of her sons to gun violence. Her youngest son, Dashown Myers, was killed Feb. 23, 2020. Then, on Jan. 1 of this year, Dontae Myers was killed.
“People don't understand when you pull a trigger, you don't just take away that person that you're trying to kill — you take away everybody that loves that person,” Jones said. “Everybody gets shot that day, or that night, even your own family loses their lives that day, because now they have to bear the shame that their child — their loved one — is now a murderer.”
Secondary survivors experience unique trauma, said Jessica Pizzano, director of victim services with Survivors of Homicide Inc., noting that survivors experience triggers throughout their own lives.
“This is not just a one-day event, it's not just Feb. 23 or Jan. 1, the days that I lost my children; this became an everyday life event for me and my daughter and my three grandchildren,” Jones said.
State Rep. Mary Mushinsky (D-Wallingford) said one of the goals of Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month is to inspire people to take more action to curb homicide.
Andrew Reynolds of Wallingford appreciates the awareness month's designation. His 9-year-old niece, Jessica Short, was stabbed to death in 1989.
"No matter how long, it doesn't go away," he said. "My sister is traumatized, and it doesn't go away."