Fighting for Their Lives

Sadly, Lauren Smart’s letter was read in court—after her death. On Saturday, June 7, 2014, Norman Smart killed Lauren Brown Smart. She would have been 35 on July 10. Even more horrifying, her oldest boy from her first marriage and just six at the time, witnessed it all. Her other son with Smart hadn’t even turned a year old.

Responding to a call from Norman Smart, police found Lauren on the floor in the master bedroom of their Wilmington Island, Georgia, home on her back, with abrasions on her forehead, arms and elbows and blood stains on the carpet. Norman Smart was charged with murder and put on trial.

During trial, the medical examiner testified that Norman Smart beat, strangled and stomped a reportedly drunk Lauren to death—the pattern of his shoes matched the injuries on her body.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the horror of this crime—nor its pervasiveness in this country. Every day three women are murdered by a current or former mate. Twenty people (including a small number of men) are victims of intimate partner violence every single minute, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every nine seconds, reports Domestic Violence Statistics, a woman is beaten or assaulted. Over 38 million women experience domestic or intimate-partner violence in their lifetimes, with nearly five million experiencing such violence every year. As many as 10 million children witness this type of violence every year.

A woman’s level of education doesn’t shield her from abuse and neither does her economic status. Domestic violence may be stereotyped as a crime of the poor and uneducated, but that’s far from the truth. Women of all backgrounds are victimized.

Melissa (not her real name) truly debunks those stereotypes. A well-known socialite and independent professional in Savannah never imagined she would become a victim of abuse. Yet, just a few months into her relationship with a man she believed to be a great match, she found herself a victim.

Looking back, she says, “My first red light should have been one evening when he was upset and ripped my car keys out of my hand. I attributed it to a bad day at work.” There was no explaining away what happened to her during their “romantic” getaway to the Bahamas, however. “He got upset with me one night and pushed me in my pajamas out of our room and threw my suitcase at me. I got another room in the hotel and had every intention of flying out the next day.”

Subscribe to receive our bi-monthly magazine or find where to buy us to read more on this article!