On June 30, 2020 Emily Mohler, her 3 year-old daughter Piper, and her boyfriend, Cody Nevins were attacked by her abusive ex-husband (Kameron) and murdered at their home in Olney, MT. Emily was a much-loved free spirit, a photographer for Levitation Nation, an aerialist and a gold smith. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy that has shaken our community to it's core, we give voice to fellow community member Sylvia Rocío Málaga, as she speaks out on her experience with domestic violence. This article was published with hope that Sylvia's insights will help others know where to find help when needed.
"I want to express my deepest condolences to the children, family, and friends of both Cody Nevins and Emily Mohler. Grief and trauma are difficult and painful to move through, and I know that many lives, especially those of children left behind, will never be the same following these tragic deaths. We will be dealing with the impacts of this for many years to come. Let's all do our best in spreading LOVE right now, our community and our world so desperately needs it, and it's absolutely what Emily would have wanted. Also, I can imagine how angry, sad, and confused Kameron's family and friends are right now. I see you too, and please know my thoughts and condolences are with you as well.
I have seen a lot of badmouthing, and while I don't think sugar coating or making excuses for what Kameron did is right, I think we need to remember that his daughter Marley is a part of him, and we need to be a little more careful with the way we choose to speak of him. I say this as a mother who is currently dealing with a mentally ill baby daddy myself (fortunately incarcerated for now) and tries really hard to be real (keeping it as PG as possible) with my daughter about her father without bashing him, because ultimately that is her dad and she is a part of him.
She doesn't know exactly what he has done, but she knows he has physically hurt me and another woman. I know I'll need to give her more info for her own safety upon his release, and that sooner or later my daughter will be navigating the internet and will be able to read more in detail what her father did. I hope that when that time comes, she is not bombarded with complete hate towards him. His actions are more than enough to paint a picture. I let Maya know her dad is mentally ill and that he is incapable of making good choices because that is the reality. I understand the anger and that what Kameron did was messed up, but please keep Marley in mind. This doesn't need to be harder for her than it already is.
With that being said, I'd like to share some things:
People still wonder why I stuck it out in my relationship for so long. Believe me, I wonder that myself and it's just a very complex question that cannot be easily answered. There are MANY reasons why people stay with their abusers. It's downright rude to ask someone why they stayed. If you do not understand why someone would stay, you need to do some reading up on domestic violence, like now. It's a complete mind fuck that I wish upon no one, and one that you may never fully understand unless you have lived the nightmare yourself. Reading stories of the lived experience of survivors is a great place to start.
The important thing is that I finally left. The sad thing is that leaving increases your risk of abuse and death, as we sadly saw with Emily. More than 70% of domestic violence murders happen AFTER leaving the abuser. I worry that my daughter and I are at high risk since my ex has been filing things from prison and we have two court dates coming up this summer, so it's not like we are not on his mind/radar. He has already come very close to ending both of our lives (his and mine) in a murder/suicide, telling me exactly how he was going to kill me like a scene in Dexter, but I got away before he could reenact that Dexter scene. He did punched me all over, suffocated me with a pillow, and hold me hostage in a bathroom. I don't doubt he might come after me again, especially after stewing in resentment while in prison. I also don't think there is anything stopping him from coming back to the Flathead when he is released from prison. I am not looking forward to living in fear again. The clock is ticking with a little over a year left until his release (fingers crossed he is not allowed parole this coming November). I have worked tremendously hard to pull myself our of the dark hole I was in post-abuse and I pray that I have the strength to endure further harassment while trying to raise our daughter.
I am deeply disturbed, livid, but one thing I am NOT is surprised that our friend Emily had already spoken up to the courts about this issue and that more was not done, even though he had a previous record. Also, pieces of paper like restraining orders do not stop mentally ill people from coming close to or hurting other humans. They never will. People this sick do not follow rules. They are a danger to themselves and to those around them, and they need to be kept away. That is a band-aid approach and doesn't take care of the root cause of domestic violence.
True and meaningful change begins with so much more, like changing the archaic family court system (which is obviously not working), access to affordable childcare, birth/postpartum/parenting support, access to affordable housing, livable wages, healthcare, investing in education/schools, treatment centers and mental health facilities, etc. But in the meantime, there needs to be a safety protocol for when people are displaying this sort of behavior.
Kameron should not have been allowed to roam free, even if Emily wasn't asking for anything to be done (not saying she didn't, I just do not have that information other than her asking for another order of protection). I was lucky that my ex was taken to Pathways (without me asking) after our final breakup when he was threatening suicide and other scenarios that involved killing innocent people. But, I know this does not happen every time, and it really should. If domestic abusers are let back into the community, they should absolutely have a tracker so that they do not come near those they have hurt. And, honestly, maybe more than an ankle bracelet is needed since trackers can be broken off. I don't have the answers but what I do know is our current system is just not working and people are literally dying because of that. There is no reason that my abuser should have been free to walk after what he did to me and other members of the Flathead Valley community, and it's unfair that he was given the chance to find another victim to hurt because his actions were not taken seriously. It's not fair that he is about to be given another chance after continuing to show to this day that he is not mentally okay.
We cannot deny that when children are involved with domestic violence, things get even more tricky. It doesn't matter if you end things with your abuser. If you share a child together, you are in for a long road of continued emotional and financial abuse. Parents who are fleeing abuse should be able to do so with the certainty that they and their children will be protected, otherwise we will continue to see victims of domestic violence staying with their abusers or being harmed when they leave.
𝐓𝐎 𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝐂𝐇𝐈𝐋𝐃𝐑𝐄𝐍/𝐓𝐄𝐄𝐍𝐒:
Talk to your kids about domestic violence. Talk to them about the red flags. Do your best to parent non-violently. Teach them to set boundaries. Model kind and peaceful behavior in front of your children. Sometimes it's not easy, but we can all try and do better each day! If your child is displaying behavioral problems, consider seeking out therapy. There is no shame in therapy! #ilovemytherapist
𝐓𝐎 𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒 𝐎𝐑 𝐅𝐀𝐌𝐈𝐋𝐘 𝐎𝐅 𝐀𝐁𝐔𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐒:
Do not enable them! Call them out! Do not lie for them! If they have children themselves, do what you can to protect said children as well as the abused parent, NOT the abuser! Offer to testify if needed.
𝐓𝐎 𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐒𝐄 𝐖𝐇𝐎 𝐀𝐑𝐄 𝐁𝐄𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀𝐁𝐔𝐒𝐄𝐃:
I am so sorry you are going through this. Please reach out to a trusted friend or organization such as Abbie Shelter and Violence Free Crisis Line (www.abbieshelter.org) for resources, support, and help in creating a plan to leave safely should you decide to do so. Keep in mind that abuse escalates when you end or threaten to end the relationship. You know better than anyone what your abuser is capable of, so please, be very careful and plan ahead if you can! Obviously, if you are immediate danger, waiting and planning are not/may not be an option - call for help and do what you gotta do.
𝐓𝐎 𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐒𝐄 𝐖𝐇𝐎 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 𝐀𝐋𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐃𝐘 𝐄𝐒𝐂𝐀𝐏𝐄𝐃:
Consider sharing your story. Abuse thrives in silence. You never know who will benefit from hearing what you have gone through, and how you made it out! Sharing your story also means more people will know what is going on and be able to help keep you safe. It can also liberating and empowering AF. Check out the "Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence" website (www.breakthesilencedv.org) for survivor stories, yearly survivor retreats, and more. The more we share and talk openly about domestic violence, the more we can end the stigma and shame.
𝐓𝐎 𝐌𝐘 𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐌𝐔𝐍𝐈𝐓𝐘:
If you see abuse/misogyny/bullying, etc., call that shit out! It's not funny to joke about! Domestic abuse should be taken very seriously. Please remember that just because someone has done a lot of good, it does not mean they are not capable of causing harm. Just because you have known someone your whole life and they have never hurt YOU personally or you have never seen them hurt someone, does not mean that they are incapable of hurting people. Keep an open mind when someone tells you they are being abused. And, abusers are master manipulators. If they can make their victims feel sorry for them, pretty sure they can do it to those they haven't abused.
If you have experienced domestic violence in the state of Montana and feel that you and/or your children have not been or are not being protected or given justice, know that you can reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am brainstorming ways to create lasting change. We have a moral obligation to do this folks."
Author: Sylvia Rocío Málaga