• Performances spotlight toll of domestic abuse

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Lisa King was killed by her ex-husband on Sept. 1, 2001, following nine years of abuse. On April 2, 2004, her ex-husband’s trial began in El Paso, Texas, and on May 5, 2004, he was found not guilty on the charge of murder and guilty on the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
    Lisa’s story was portrayed in the new Fix the Hurt production “23 Bruises: The Lisa King Story” Sept. 27 at Post Theater and Sept. 28 at the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium to kick-off Army Community Service’s Family Advocacy Program Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities.
    Twenty-three was the number of injury sites counted on Lisa’s body during the trial.
    The play, written in 2010 by John and Linda King, Lisa’s parents and founders of Fix the Hurt, is the third production for the theater company.
    In addition, “Domestic Violence the Musical?” was performed in Eisenhower Auditorium and “I Have This Friend” was performed at Harrold Youth Center Sept. 28.
    “It was very impactful to (the Kings) and they decided to honor their daughter by having this production company,” said Jayne Meath, Family Advocacy Program specialist.
    In “23 Bruises,” actors portray multiple characters. Jori Buchanan portrayed Linda King and Lisa King, while Kirby Soderberg portrayed John King, the abuser, the judge and the bailiff. The play takes the audience through the nine-year struggle of Lisa and her parents as she continually fails to extricate herself from the abusive relationship, which eventually led to her death. Excerpts from Lisa’s and Linda’s real-life diaries are read throughout.
    “It is a big story and I think it is the largest thing I’ve ever done,” Buchanan said. “It is definitely a lot of emotion that goes on up there and it is a ride from start to finish. We got through nine years in just under an hour, so it is a lot to pack in there.”
    Though Buchanan has acted on stage most of her life and has performed with Fix the Hurt for nine years, she said acting in this project was intimidating.
    “As we were going through the creative process, I said to Linda at the beginning, ‘I’m playing you and I’m playing your daughter, so please tell me if something that I’m doing needs to be changed or needs to be altered.’ Linda has been very communicative and that’s been really great and helpful because I want to get it right,” she said.
    “(Domestic Violence Awareness) is such an important message and it really means a lot to me that I get to be part of that. I get to help educate and demonstrate and show people. It began as just another job but it very, very quickly became something that really drives me.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Fix the Hurt was established in 2008.
    “As I thought about what my responsibility was to all of those men and women who were victims and what my responsibility was to Lisa, I knew that that is how I needed to handle this,” Linda King said. “That was going to be the healing process for me and it truly was.”
    The Army’s 2018 theme for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is “Know the Signs.”
    Master Sgt. Brian Watts, equal opportunity advisor, Combined Arms Center, said understanding the signs was the biggest thing he took away from the production.
    “(It is about) catching it early, waking up and looking around and really paying attention to those little things that you might just brush off. Once they start adding up, I think that is when it is too late,” Watts said. “(23 Bruises) is the best training I’ve ever had as far as family advocacy goes in my 22 years of service.”
    King said Lisa’s story is a clear depiction of domestic abuse.
    “Lisa’s story is so typical of how women become involved and get in over their head before they realize the gravity of what they’re dealing with,” she said. “They go into a relationship thinking they can change that person and they see what their potential is and they can’t do that. You can’t change anyone. They can only change themselves.
    “We couldn’t change Lisa’s mind about him because love enters into it,” King said. “As crazy as it seems to most people, there is love even for your abuser and that is one of the things that makes it so difficult to break away.”
    King said she realized the impact she could have telling Lisa’s story when she received a message from a complete stranger on Facebook this past summer shortly after Lisa’s ex-husband was sent back to jail on another domestic violence charge for the sixth time since his 2011 release.
    “I started seeing (Lisa’s ex-husband),” the message read. “(Lisa) came to my house to warn me about him, brought court papers and told me what he had done to her. I did not see him again … When I learned he had murdered Lisa, so many emotions this brought to me. I had incredible heartache that she was a victim of his … I feel that she may have saved my life. I too could’ve been a victim of (his) … She is my hero.”
    “This is a person I don’t know,” King said. “If Lisa can have that much impact on someone then there is the potential for me to have that impact, too.”
    Page 3 of 3 - One in three women and one in five men will be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault at some point in their lives, and a woman will leave an abusive relationship an average of seven times before she leaves for good, King said.
    Throughout October, ACS FAP will have tables set up at the Post Exchange and the Lewis and Clark Center with information on domestic violence awareness and prevention, Meath said.
    “Domestic violence is something that is definitely preventable,” Meath said. “The military does a really good job of us taking care of each other and of us getting help for each other. The more we get this word out to soldiers and family members, the more they can start helping the community with the healing process.”
    For more information about on-post resources, call FAP at 684-2800. For more about “23 Bruises” and Fix the Hurt, visit www.helpfixthehurt.org.
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