Photo Credit: Michelle Knight
The story caught my eye last year – Tamron Hall, MSNBC anchor and frequent fill-in on Today, talking about how her sister was murdered and how her family believes she was the victim of domestic violence. Murdered? Domestic violence? You hear about such tragedies on the news and yet, you feel some distance because it's not really happening to someone you know or someone you feel like you know. But now it was happening to someone I felt like I knew -- Tamron Hall.
I didn’t know Tamron personally but I admired her work from afar – just like so many other people. She has that relatable quality of making you feel like you do know her or that you’d like to know her. So of course, when she opened up in a story on TheGrio.com last year, I read every word, and then when MSNBC asked if I would be interested in interviewing her for iVillage to talk about domestic violence, I jumped at the chance.
Watch as Tamron opens up to iVillage about her sister’s murder:
I have written before about how I almost lost someone close to me to an abusive and obsessive boyfriend. I know that story could have turned into a real tragedy if this person didn’t ultimately get out of this relationship -- and she did. I also did stories during my time at CBS News on teen dating abuse – how one in five 13 to 14 year olds says their friends have been punched, kicked, hit or slapped by a boyfriend or girlfriend – one in five. That is stunning.
Tamron told me how, in high school, she had heard about a couple and how the boyfriend allegedly hit his girlfriend. She described this girl as being full of light and how all her light had been extinguished by an abusive relationship. She feels like she didn’t do enough then and that’s part of what is motivating her to do work with groups such as Day One, which is specifically focused on raising awareness of teen dating abuse and violence.
Tamron says her sister never talked about being abused physically or mentally, but she said her sister told her mother the night before she was killed that she wanted out of the relationship. She was found in a pool, with her hair pulled from the back of her head, and her nails broken on every finger. Her spouse was declared a “person of interest” but never charged. Tamron’s now committed to doing what she can to raise awareness of domestic violence among all women, especially teens.
Her number one goal, she says, is to get teens to understand what’s right and what’s seriously wrong in a relationship. “When he text messages you 15 times that night because you didn’t answer his call, that’s a problem,” she said. And asked what her message is to anyone reading this post who might be a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, she told me, “I think it is important to find one person that you can go to and open up your heart and your mind to that person.” There is someone who could hold your hand in court, if you needed that, or help you find a new home or a school for your child, she said. “There is somebody there to stand with you, you just have to open up your heart and tell them.”
Thank you, Tamron Hall, for having the courage to speak up and out. Getting more people to talk about domestic violence is one way we can prevent more lives from being forever changed by an abusive relationship.
Kelly Wallace is Chief Correspondent for iVillage. Follow Kelly Wallace on Twitter: @kellywallacetv