She was just 18 years old. Spunky, sassy, and full of life and light. A young man extinguished Brittany Murphy’s light four years ago with two gunshots. He then took his own life.
It was a teenage relationship that spiraled out of control. I interviewed Brittany’s mother, Dawn Brumley, as part of WTHR’s Shattering the Silence campaign, and she told me that Brittany’s relationship, with her 19-year-old boyfriend, Corey Dix, was often rocky.
On the last day of Brittany’s life, she called her Mom from her boyfriend’s cell phone. Dawn says, “Brittany said he had broken her cell phone, took her keys and wouldn’t give them back to her and wouldn’t let her leave.”
Dawn’s son went to the boyfriend’s apartment and confronted a grisly scene. “My son kicked in the bedroom door and Brittany was lying on the end of the bed. She had been shot twice in the head and her boyfriend then shot himself in the head.”
Her only daughter, gone way too soon, in a flash of gunfire. Dawn recalls that Corey was verbally abusive. That’s one of the early red flags of an abusive relationship. Studies show that one in 10 high school students has been hit or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend, which is staggering, but abuse is not always “hitting.”
Abuse can be emotional, mental, verbal, financial or sexual. The Domestic Violence Network defines abuse as “the use of power and control, in an intimate relationship … that threatens a person’s well-being.”
Other red flags include jealousy, possessiveness, constant criticism, someone controlling your time, where you go, what you wear, and isolating you from friends and family.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I continue to shatter the silence on abuse because if we don’t have healthy families, we don’t have healthy communities. Abused children have a much greater risk of becoming abusers or abuse victims. That abuse spills out into the streets, increasing crime and chaos in our neighborhoods.
After 11 years of producing news stories and prime time specials, I am convinced that children hold a key to ending abuse.
If we can teach children the building blocks of a healthy relationship, they will be less likely to commit abuse or continue a cycle that may be in their own families. Children need to know that abuse is not normal.
Dawn Brumley is shattering the silence with us, in memory of her daughter. She hosts a motorcycle fundraiser and donates the proceeds to WTHR’s Shattering the Silence Fund, managed by the Domestic Violence Network. The fund helps pay for healthy relationship programs in schools and youth agencies.
Dawn stopped by Channel 13 this month to present a $5,000 check. She hopes to prevent other parents from suffering her pain. We encourage you to join Dawn.
Shatter the silence. Go to WTHR.com’s Community page to donate and take the pledge against abuse. We can change children’s lives.
You can email comments to Angela Cain at firstname.lastname@example.org.