Steps against violence: Daughters of victim share her story
She was a mother. A grandmother. A sister. A daughter. A co-worker. A neighbor. A friend.
And she was a wife.
Although Linda Lee Green continues to be all of those things to her loved ones, she is also now a statistic.
She was a victim of domestic violence.
On the morning of August 14, 2006, Green was gunned down in her vehicle outside her home near Osakis by her husband of 14 years. She died later that afternoon from the gunshot wounds to her head.
He also died - from suicide. After shooting his wife, he turned the gun on himself.
On Tuesday, two of Green's children - Carla Graham and Lee Wruck - spoke about their mother at the third annual Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence Walk hosted by Someplace Safe, Wings Family Supportive Services and United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN).
The two women said they debated on what they should talk about or where they should start their speech.
They said they could start from the beginning of their mother's life, the beginning of the abuse and they could share how their mother desperately wanted to be loved, how her own family manipulated her and made her feel a lonely existence.
"We could tell you from start to finish, how our mother was beaten down mentally, verbally and physically her entire life," the women said.
But instead, they chose to tell how their mother rose above everything and was never an abuser. They said she never purposely hurt or abandoned the people in her life whom she loved dearly or even the people who hurt her the most.
"She was never malicious or vengeful," Wruck said of her mother. "Our mother's testimony is very simple for the average person, but for us, the details of her last days are as clear as her biography."
Graham explained that her mother's husband of 14 years suddenly left nearly two months before her death - with no explanation.
He was staying with family at the time in Long Prairie, but continued to be in contact with Green, threatening her and belittling her like he always did when he was angry, according to the women.
"To her, it was devastating that he left. To us, we were happy that we finally had our 'mom time' and we were hopeful that she could start a new life for herself," said Graham.
In the months after he left, Green was never left alone. Her family, her children, stood by her side throughout the journey - the legal process put in place to try and help keep her safe. An order for protection was granted and the court ordered that her abuser's firearms be taken. The women said his family took the responsibility to hold his weapons for him. They were to monitor him, as he was labeled as unstable and a threat to their mother and himself, said Graham.
After their mother's death, Wruck and Graham learned that he was served divorce papers on their mother's birthday.
"Which we believe ultimately sent him over the edge to take her life and finally end his," said Wruck.
On August 10, 2006, Green turned 45 years old and her husband was served the divorce papers.
On August 11, 2006, the family celebrated her birthday with a bonfire, something Green loved doing.
On August 12, 2006, Green spent the day with her grandkids - baking, watching TV and spending quality time together. The kids spent the night with their grandmother.
On August 13, 2006, Green spent the day reading and watching her Christian shows on TV, something she did frequently.
And on Monday, August 14, as usual, she was up before the sun to get ready for work. A short time later, she was dead - a victim of domestic violence.
"The lack of sincerity, education and seriousness of the situation is what led to both of their deaths," Graham told the captive audience. "We did everything by the book. Yet, we stand before you without our mother, without their grandmother, without your adopted mother, without your mother-in-law, without a friend, a daughter, a sister, an aunt. Without a piece of each of our hearts, we stand before you.
"Our mother's murder has obviously changed each of our lives, from every circumstantial piece of detail we have been forced to transform into this new life," Graham continued.
Wruck said, "With one of our many conversations between my sister and I, we have come to realize that there was nothing we could have done to prevent this devastating tragedy. Our mother was born into domestic violence, she was born into abuse and neglect; she lived it her entire life - right to the end."
The women explained that they were speaking at the event as a way to educate and bring awareness of domestic violence, which they called an infectious disease.
They want to help save the children, the pre-teens, the teenagers and young adults by teaching them what is healthy in a relationship and what is not healthy.
"We need to break the cycle, open our mouths and use our voices. We need to speak the truth, gather the broken and lost to show them they are worthy, they are loved, they deserve happiness and they deserve to be who they are, not what someone else wants them to be," Wruck said.
Green's daughters challenged those in the audience to speak the truth about domestic violence to at least five people who may be blind to the issue. They said domestic violence is not a dirty secret to hide, but instead, it can be an act of murder.
Lee asked the audience if they wanted to know how domestic violence has affected their family. She told them to just take a look.
"You will see sadness pouring out of our eyes," she said. "August 14, 2006 festers in our hearts, every day is a never-ending nightmare. A piece of us has died and we have had to learn to live again. The unbearable pain has been marked and disguised. Under the pain brings anger and sadness daily. It has been three years and two months and we miss her terribly."
Wruck also explained that the family has had to adjust to not having a mother to ask important questions about parenting, relationships, cooking, gardening or any other type of motherly-type questions that so many people take for granted.
"Every year that passes, we watch mothers with their children celebrate Mother's Day. But for us, Mother's Day is in the Evergreen Cemetery in Long Prairie," she said.
Graham concluded by telling the audience that whenever they have discussions about their mother, they always end by saying, "We know she's in a better place, but our own selfishness wishes she was still here with us every day."