“Powell’s case was of great interest mostly because of the brutality of his actions as well as the ongoing issues he was creating., We, the family, were trying desperately to find a way to cope with all the attention while trying to focus on healing. We strived to bring forth positive aspects and changes, especially since the local police department didn’t know how to handle our family. It was not a slam to law enforcement agencies but we quickly realized certain aspects within the agencies needed restructuring.
Detective Leonard recognized these issues as well and less than three weeks after the girls brutal attacks invited me as a guest speaker to the police academy. He advised me to be brutally honest about the way our family had been treated during the first seventy two hours of the tragedy. I went not sure I could do what he was asking.”
For those who knew me then, I was extremely introverted. And my family affairs were a very private matter and off limits. Speaking publicly was not on my list, or any list, as far as I was concerned, but I was determined to find my voice. The media kept following us and demanding interviews, so I was constantly on edge about sharing any information about my daughters, especially Kristie, who survived the heinous and brutal attack. However, I agreed and found the experience was enlightening and humbling. As a victim, I had no idea how this was supposed to work. What do I say, how do I say it? What will they think of me as a mom? I had doubts, lots of them, mostly about myself. I was dealing with a great torrent of guilt, shame, anger, and hatred for Paul. I shared what I knew, which at the time was very little and only the what, who and where. I was holding into so much pain and crying silently inside. I was a prisoner in my own mind and felt trapped.
We were literally thrust into the spotlight and none of us knew what to do with it. That day at the police academy, I spoke from my heart and the majority of the officers and detectives came up and personally thanked for sharing so openly about our feelings of injustice. They too had kids and I heard again and again, if it was me and my family, I don’t know that I could handle it with such dignity. Dignity? I thought. I’m screaming on the inside. But they saw a strength I didn’t know I possessed. I would take years to convince me that I was strong. I thought it was called survival.
The police department did an excellent job of apprehending Paul, processing the crime scene and keeping us safe. I didn’t always agree with the way they handled us, but I learned a lot of from the experience and grew very fond of all the officers and detectives who worked with us so closely in bringing Paul to trial and justice. It was a long excruciating journey, but in the end we all prevailed.
As Stacie and Kristie’s mom, and as a survivor, I found my voice very early on thanks to Detective Rich Leonard and the Prince William Police Department and Prosecutors office. I learned how to speak up and speak out and I haven’t shut up since. I’m no longer the victim of this brutal crime, because I refused to be. And I refused to give him the power to control me.
The battle still rages, but I am a warrior for God’s kingdom and will gladly stand alongside and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
If you are a victim of a crime, you have a voice. Use it to bring awareness, hope and healing. You are not a victim, you are a survivor.
When one person speaks out it’s a whisper
When two people speak out it’s a voice
When more come together it’s a movement
Be the Scream!
Founder & Executive Director S.T.A.C.I.E. Foundation