The Silence Can be Deafening- No Apologies for Being an Advocate 

Don Gore

Don Gore, my father

After 36 years of surviving the most life-changing event in one’s life, you gain perspective, but you also lose friends along the way.

My father’s murder occurred in Hartford Connecticut on April 17, 1981, and it made the law books for a particular legal maneuver. It was a case whose trial was prolonged for 6 1/2 years, caught in the morass of determinate and indeterminate sentencing laws. It was a case that coincided with the infancy of victim rights. My father’s case began as a missing person and ended as a homicide.

It was a case characterized by unthinkable events such as our family learning the news via a newspaper article and taking it upon ourselves to call the police, as no notification had come our way. There were promises were made such as, “This career criminal will never get out.” In fact, a very skilled attorney/victim advocate was puzzled as to why the perpetrator ever became eligible for parole in 2013.

My father’s murder case changed the State of Connecticut policy regarding the anonymity of victims during a parole hearing although the parole board failed to even acknowledge such a milestone.

That’s when I decided not to be silent. Don Gore needed a voice and I became that person in every way imaginable.

It is not a role I consciously chose, it evolved as my intellectual curiosity and need for justice grew.

Times have changed, with an entirely new generation appearing since 1981.  The landscape in victim services has expanded to include a plethora of agencies, governmental to non-profit. In addition, in 2017, violence, public perception, tolerance of what once was unacceptable, and the ever-changing social mores, has also escalated with the immediacy of social media.

In situations such as violent crime, I believe complacency breeds indifference. If you are not part of the solution, you could be part of the problem. It’s not that you have to go the whole hog, just make a meaningful contribution in your own way.

But then, there are the constants that don’t seem to change the work against positive change and hope for the future. These elements are equal to the silence that pervades if you chose not to be a voice for change, or, at the very least, acknowledge what others are doing and give moral support. The silences can be deafening causing me to work with increased fervor.  Some examples:

  • The murderer having no cognizance of who he killed or who was related to him in addition to showing no remorse;
  • The vulnerabilities that still surface, even after 36 years;
  • The tendency of the public to stay in denial mode, shaking their collective heads unless homicide or other crimes have touched them personally;
  • The lack of connection or involvement in many homicides and missing person families;
  • The refusal to see beyond the obvious that homicide and missing persons isn’t uplifting and that there is nothing positive that can come forth by educating and creating awareness. How wrong these people are, they will never get it! When you look beyond the surface, as advocates, we have been the force for so much positive change. As a byproduct, you gain surrogate families who can be very nurturing. Out of tragedy, inspiring events occur.
  • The lack of resources and assistance for so many families, even in this enlightened era forcing us to be ever more creative to get the job done.

The Future

Although I do not look forward to the five-year mark looming in the background for another appearance at a parole hearing in 2018, I embrace the right and duty to continually try to be the voice of my father, Donald W. Gore, whose life was snuffed out so abruptly and unfairly.

I hope he will be observing with pride from his place in heaven.  Dad, you are missed by many!

DRG- 4-16-2017


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No Time for the Pain, Drama, or False Hopes Inflicted on Families of Homicide and the Missing

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We all go about our daily business doing what we need to do – including firing up our passions and inspiring our collective villages. However, within that scenario, there are a number of pitfalls on social media about which we need to be wary.

Case in point – I received a Facebook message from a mysterious woman in a faraway land near Russia. This woman commented on my blog written about a high profile missing person who established a legacy for the CUE Center for Missing Persons.

Mystery woman made a comment stating that she had seen the missing person last year in Russia.  The missing person in question disappeared 16  1/2 years ago.

It is not out of the realm of possibility, for evidence, altered identity, remains and the like have been discovered. But, what transpired next seemed suspicious to me.  How do you sort out the crazies from the scammers from the truly informed who want to help?  You approach with caution, sending a private message. Your message should clearly state that if the “informant” has verifiable proof of the person’s whereabouts, contact X resource – whether it is the non-profit tip line or the police with contact info provided. If they do not follow up…that’s a giveaway!

In this instance, such a directive was given. The person replied that she “did not have international calling capability.” Well…. Anyone worth their salt knows that if they contacted me via the internet, there are options such as Skype or other software providing telephone calls via the internet.  The final comment to me was, “Do you have any idea what happened to her?” That’s when I knew she was a fake, fake, fake looking to perpetrate her drama on me or use me for her own mischievous purpose. She obviously never bothered to read the contents of my well researched detailed blog as to what may have happened!

Why make such claims in the first place? I am not inclined to friend a total stranger in a foreign land. I have no reason to do so. I do not want to be part of her “agenda.”

Creating drama and false hope for the families of homicide and missing persons does a terrible disservice to people who are already overburdened with grief, worry and the vacuousness in their hearts. It is unconscionable!

A few words to the less than wise – NEVER make claims about others that are untruthful, that you cannot back up. Doing so inflicts more pain, false hope and makes you part of the problem rather than the solution.

Foreign lady – You are BLOCKED!

Stay vigilant! If it doesn’t make sense, abandon all contact. Refer to your most trusted social media references and keep up on the latest scams and tools to monitor.

For many useful Social Media related blogs, visit https://imaginepublicity.com/

 

The Greatest Healer of All Time: The Support of Others…

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“Whoever is in the distress can call me… I will come running wherever they are.”  

 “My first thoughts are that I should not let people down, that I should support them and love them” Quotes by Princess Diana

Princess Diana’s words ring true to the ears of all those who have experienced strife and devastating loss in their lives…. She certainly did her part…and made her mark, after which her life was tragically struck down at age 36 on August 31, 1997. [For Ladyjustice’s personal account of this time in history, please see: https://donnagore.com/2011/05/23/lady-diana-%E2%80%93-revisited/ ]

Such is the essence of what all human beings seek and need after traumatic loss… comfort and a way to fill the void.  Although we all cope with it differently, (or not), those who have the very unfortunate experience of violence death via homicide are a special class of grievers. As we recently learned, very few states across the U.S.  are equipped to provide expert peer support for having traveled the same road, with an on-going non-profit specializing in emotional support, education and public awareness.   The State of Connecticut is one of the few states that provide this service as a stand alone entity. Ladyjustice is very proud to say that she made her initial mark with this organization after the murder of her father in 1981.  And…the rest is history as they say since 1983!

“Shattered Lives” showcased this fine organization with Jessica Norton, Crime Victim Advocate and spokesperson for Survivors of Homicide, Inc.  http://www.survivorsofhomicide.com/Website/Home.htm on a recent broadcast.  Please read the highlights and listen to the podcast here…. Pass on to others, for all 50 states need to follow suit!

 Listen to the Podcast

 

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  • ANNOUNCEMENTS re Three Great People & Events: Jeff Mudgett; Dr. Dalal Akoury;  Amy Crohn Santagata;
  • Introduction to our guest: Jessica Norton;
  • Discussion with Delilah of availability of state wide support group for homicide;
  • Jessica talking about the few  states who have unique support groups focusing on homicide:
  • The historical perspective:  What was it like in the early 1980’s?
  • Dealing with the criminal justice system…still a huge challenge…
  • Different versus better… a changing landscape…
  • What is Jessica’s role and how do they differ with the other entities of crime victim services in Connecticut?
  • Discussion of the newly formed Newtown support group;
  • Audrey Carlson- Facilitator of the Newtown Group: Foundation started regarding the murder of her daughter, Elizabeth: http://elizabethannecarlsonscholarship.com/index.html
  • Delilah asks about outreach to families in other states when referrals arrive;
  • Another resource: Parents of Murdered Children: http://www.pomc.com/chapters.html ;
  • Ladyjustice: “The Queen of Support Groups;”
  • An introduction to the dynamics to the first meeting of a homicide support group;
  • “The group that nobody wants to join…”
  • Delilah asks about what to expect about how the group is run and what is expected from the survivor?
  • Beginnings: Daily Meditations and Healings:  http://www.amazon.com/Healing-After-Loss-Meditations-Working/dp/0380773384;
  • Types of discussions within the group;
  • Ladyjustice asks about the women coming versus men;
  • Men who have lost wives and matching mentors;
  • The “Voices Program” from the Department of Corrections- Cut from the Budget??
  • Earning good time in manslaughter cases…. changed within the last two years in Connecticut;
  • Serving 85% of their sentences… four or five days off their sentences per month- determined by the prison officials;
  • Removing good time and then reinstating it…
  • “I just want to make sure they understand what’s happening;”
  • Creating victim impact statements… a healing process;
  • Court victim advocates’ role;
  • Jessica serves over 300 clients per year;
  • SOH Charity Golf Tournament: the 30th Year…
  • http://www.survivorsofhomicide.com/Website/Events.htm;
  • Raffle Items, Buffet, Tee Sponsors, PGA Golfer, Music, Volunteers Needed…
  • Contact Information: http://www.survivorsofhomicide.com/Website/ContactUs.htm;
  • 530 Silas Deane Highway  860.257.7388
    Suite 380
    Wethersfield, CT 06109;
  • Selected Cold Cases of Interest in Connecticut:  www.ctcoldcases.com.
  • June 1, 2004, 16 year old Jessica Rose Keyworth; On May 30, she had taken a local train from Bridgeport, to Waterbury, CT and was not seen again; ‘Strangled and found in an abandoned building in Waterbury, CT;                      $50,000 Reward;
  • March 7, 2006, at approximately 8:45 a.m., Kathy Hardy was the victim of an arson murder that occurred at her home in Branford; $50,000 Reward offered; http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2012/03/17/news/doc4f6557311e10f841842310.txt
  • The importance of having enough evidence for a conviction: Example:             Kathy Hardy Case;
  • Interfacing with the Office of the Victim Advocate and the Office of the Victims of Crime;
  • How donations are used….
  • Parting comments…. Myths dispelled….
  • More Resources: http://www.survivorsofhomicide.com/Website/Other%20Resources.htm

 

Questions from the Gallery:

  • Where would you refer victims for support if you lived in South Carolina or elsewhere?
  • Which states are active as a peer volunteer support group and are they all in person groups?
  • What are the biggest challenges in 2013 regarding new crime victims they encounter?
  • What is the most surprising element for new victims in learning about the criminal justice system?
  • How does attitude play a role in the court system?
  • How many support groups are available and where are they located?
  • How does Jessica assist with referrals out of state?
  • Why is there a stigma associated with homicide?
  • What is the typical point of entry into the group?
  • What are the guidelines of the group?
  • What are some examples of manslaughter cases and eligibility of good time?
  • What does Jessica do with victims within the court system?
  • What activities are included in the upcoming July Golf Tournament?
  • Which Cold Cases need promotion?
  • What does Survivors of Homicide Inc. need?

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.”

‘To Donate or to Not Donate… That is the Holiday Question

Well before there is a tiny white bulb or a piece of tinsel to be seen, we are approached, cajoled, accosted, bribed, and guilted into “digging deep” for those who are less fortunate, especially during the holidays. AND…especially during this very prolonged miserable economy! Who can blame anyone for asking when the need is so great?

Don’t get me wrong, Ladyjustice’s middle name is generosity with a “CAPITAL G.” However, LJ has reached her saturation point, her tolerance, for the unsolicited. It’s enough to scream, Jesum Crow! (That’s camp counselor language for taking the Lord’s name in vain. As a 9 year old camper, LJ looked up to these summer camp counselors and couldn’t wait “to be cool and swear just like them.”) ‘Anyway… I digress…

At Work: We have the Care ‘N Share Fund, the Charitable Giving Champaign (optional payroll deduction) and lots of holiday fundraisers! These fundraisers seem to all be of the food variety, as that’s all anyone pays attention to… Just last week, we had the “Porkapolooza” (pulled pork sandwiches with all the trimmings) for five bucks. (Seriously, we did!) This week, it’s homemade chili. (Doesn’t anyone except Ladyjustice bring their lunch anymore? No… Ladyjustice is the appointed scribe for what used to be called the “Diversity Committee.” Again, all they want to do is eat. What is so culturally diverse about Dunkin munchkins or cookies? I dunno…

Outside the Office in “The Real World”: We have the grocery store line. The cashier will invariably ask if this writer wants to give a dollar to the Jimmy (Cancer) Fund. Well, LJ has it on good authority that “the original Jimmy” is in his 80’s and probably in a nursing home somewhere. The usual response is, “I have a disability. I work with people with multiple disabilities… I work with homicide survivors… I’ll leave that for those who don’t do anything for others…”

And, not to pick on the fine non-profit, the Salvation Army. People in recovery who stand out there in the frozen precipitation ringing the bell deserve a huge amount of credit! They are trying to get their lives back on track. But…every time you enter or exit the store, (all entrances) some of them can “be in your face.” “I have no home,” one lady shouted to Ladyjustice a few days ago. This giving person, this blogger is torn at such times. She lives frugally, makes a decent wage, has a nest egg, “just in case,” has a few “don’t touch investments,” has paid into a long term health insurance plan, has great health coverage currently, a roof over her head with a mortgage and food when she drags herself to the grocery store –least favorite chore! However, there is no other person to serve as a safety net. ‘No one else to contribute. It’s all on Ladyjustice. (In reality, her biological family would save her from homelessness, I suppose, but they have their own lives…)

When this writer is approached again by the “Salvy worker,” LJ really wants to pull out an accordion style picture wallet (just like Grandma) and show him/her all of the organizations Ladyjustice supports with time, promotion or money. A majority of groups with some probably missed are: (PFLAG, Survivors of Homicide, DV/ Intimate Partner Violence Prevention, Missing persons, Human Trafficking, Upward Bound Program, Cerebral Palsy Assn., Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Petit Family Foundation.)

LJ also works with and assists in solving many problems for clients who are totally blind or low vision, have traumatic brain injury, memory and cognitive problems, dementia, diabetes and developmental disabilities (newer term for “retardation.”)

At times, the “Salvy worker” sees Ladyjustice’s crutches in the grocery cart and “just says hello.” They might think, “She can’t possibly have money if she uses crutches! What a crock! LJ always says hello and treats them with respect. In her heart of hearts, this writer really wants to say, “I’m only a single person household. ‘Sorry, but I can’t help everyone all of the time!” (‘Truth is, they don’t care… because their need is real … They just want to get through the day.)

Many advocates I know, some very well known and successful, struggle with the issue of “helping everyone who comes in the door.” We all try. We sacrifice a lot for others, but in reality we can’t do it all. But, we tell ourselves and in conversations with God that “we are the Superwomen they need.” There has to be a limit… Don’t kid yourself, there is no Superwoman and Santa isn’t real either!
‘Bye for Now….
Donna/”Ladyjustice”