Almost time to go
May 22, 2017
BENEFITING: ABUSE COUNSELING AND TREATMENT INC
THE MARY GRACE TOUR
On an warm April evening in 1999, a woman named Mary Grace was in desperate need of help, she picked up a phone to make the last call of her life. She didn’t contact her adult children, her older brother, or any of her trusted friends. Instead, she dialed the number to a 24-hour crisis hotline, run by Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. (ACT) in Lee County, Florida.
In fear, she locked herself in the bedroom, her call to ACT was cut short when her husband of barely a year broke in, ripping the molding off surrounding the door with a crowbar. He stopped the phone call, grabbed Mary Grace and dragged her into the living room made her kneel on the floor and then proceeded to shoot her point blank, in the face, instantly ending her once vibrant life.
Mary Grace was my mother.
Her older brother and I flew in from other parts of the country a couple of days later. It felt weird to read the news stories on her murder in the local paper, which mentioned a domestic violence history we knew nothing about. As I walked down the street I imagined every stranger I passed possibly knew more about my mom’s story than I did. It was a very unsettling feeling. The only thing we knew for sure was my uncle, little brother and I never liked the guy. But we knew nothing about domestic violence. Later, while staring at a computer screen in the Lee County Sheriff’s office, we learned of a shocking history of domestic violence and a restraining order she, like many women, let expire.
Mary Grace’s husband was controlling from the start. He was domineering, he isolated her from her friends and moved her hundreds of miles from her lifelong home in northern Michigan to Flordia. In a cruel twist, as her husband he was still in control even after murdering her, we had to get his permission to have my mom's body in order to bury her.
The Sheriff took her brother and I through the home, starting with the bedroom with the broken molding and pointing to the phone where she tried to call ACT. It was strange to walk into a place my mom lived, this wasn’t like her, there was dirty, dusty, grime everywhere. I commented to the Sheriff, this grime we noticed was fingerprint dust… afterall this was a crime scene.
While going through her belongings, I learned Mary Grace had previously sought help from ACT, to learn about her options. The Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. center in Lee County, FL was her safety net and, as the officer explained, my mom was likely trying to leave when she was murdered.
One object I discovered while going through her things was a perfectly preserved travel journal, documenting every moment of a whirlwind trip she took with her brother when she was 20. She kept detailed notes about cities she visited, places she stayed, sites she saw, meals she ate, and other personal observations. She spoke fondly of her fantastic trip throughout my childhood, dreaming that one day we would return together to the places that made such a big impact on her.
Domestic violence brought this dream to an end.
I recently decided to honor my mother’s life by retracing her journey, on what I’m calling The Mary Grace Tour. This spring, armed with her beloved fifty-six year old travel journal, I am going to replicate much of her travels throughout Scandinavia and France.
To raise awareness, I’ve spoken to many individuals and groups about domestic violence in the years since my mother’s vicious murder. I’d like to use The Mary Grace Tour to continue to direct focus on awareness of the reality of domestic violence, encouraging others to speak up, and raising funds to help support ACT as I post about traveling along my mother’s path.
My goal is to raise over $10,000 for ACT, the group my mother turned to. With your help ACT can continue to help real people in a crisis. I know they truly provide a valuable service. This is not a request to fund my trip, I’m paying for my own trip, your donation goes directly to ACT, a organization on the frontline to helping victims of Domestic Violence, (minus a tiny fee to Crowdrise).
If this story resonates with you, if you have had a friend or family member touched by Domestic Violence, or ever wondered what you can do for a person in the midst of an abusive relationship, please help by donating to ACT. Every donation, regardless of size, matters.
Thank you for your awareness and donation. - Lisa
Domestic Violence Statistics
Today, ACT’s 24-hour crisis hotline rings more than 40 times per day, over 15,000 calls were received in the last year alone. Many times a whispered or secretive call, a woman is in trouble or a young man is afraid. Mothers needing a safe place to take their children, rape victims panicked by their experience, all can turn find help at the other end of this hotline. Help begins with a listening ear, medical attention, shelter, clothing, food, transportation, and protection. It ends with education, esteem, confidence, self-reliance, friendship, and hope for the days ahead.
ACT is a private, not-for-profit agency committed to serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
All donations made through Crowdrise are 100% tax-deductible, to the extent allowed by law. Donors will automatically receive an email receipt that meets the IRS requirements for a record of donation.