TUPPER LAKE — As Diane Martin looked around the Break the Silence Power Walk on Saturday, she saw friends, family and community gathered there and knew her daughter Jamie would have loved it.
Diane herself couldn’t put into words how much it meant to her to see everyone who cared about Jamie show up to remember her, five years after her death at the hand of her ex-boyfriend in a murder-suicide in 2017.
This was the fifth walk after Jamie’s killing, an event meant to shed light on domestic violence, bring the community together for healing and to advocate for change and action to stop another tragedy.
Diane said something that was said several times by other victims of domestic violence, family of victims of domestic violence and domestic violence experts at the event — that she thought this would never happen to her family or in her small town. She said in the years since, she’s become much more knowledgeable about how prevalent domestic violence is in Tupper Lake and around the world.
“People come to me,” Diane said.
Through the “Friends and Family of Jamie Rose Martin” organization established after her death, Martin’s family and friends have been able to provide support and money for local and regional domestic violence agencies, and help domestic violence victims directly.
Tragedy and love
At the walk, local band Blessid Dirt played music.
Tereson Dupuy, who sings vocals for the band, said she agreed to perform at the Jamie Rose Martin Power Walk because she has a similar story to Diane’s.
Two years ago, while living in Louisiana, Dupuy received the worst call of her life. The voice on the other end told her her 21-year-old son Eden had shot and killed her husband — his father, Terry — and that both were dead in a murder-suicide.
She loved her husband and son. Both had struggled with autism throughout their lives, she said, but her son had a bright smile and her husband was once sweet and gentle.
Terry had declined mentally over the years and had put Eden through emotional abuse, humiliating him, Dupuy said.
Before Eden killed Terry and himself, Terry had shot Eden’s computer, his only link to the outside world during the coronavirus pandemic. To this day, she said she doesn’t know why she didn’t report this.
But she also doesn’t know why no one else helped, either.
When Terry discussed his psychotic break and violent actions online, community members reported it to the sheriffs and police in their small town. They knew of his mental health struggles, but never came by for a wellness check or documented the reports.
“Neither of these organizations, whose sole mission it is to protect and serve, did anything,” she said.
No one thought something like what happened would happen in their town, Dupuy said.
There was a lot of blame to go around, she said. She blamed what she sees as a gun-loving America, its failed mental health system, the lack of involvement of law enforcement, Terry for his abuse and Eden for pulling the trigger.
But all this blame was futile, she said.
She said she found love and compassion for everyone involved — especially for her husband and son. She said they were “casualties” of larger problems — the victims of long-term emotional abuse and a mental health situation that left her husband living in a hell of his own mind.
Today, Dupuy said she prays for an end to gun violence and domestic abuse; for the government to make it harder for children with mental health issues to buy guns; and to get law enforcement to do a better job protecting people.
But she feels powerless.
What she said she can do is speak up, hold agencies accountable for doing their job, speak to people in similar situations and even find love and compassion for abusers. After all, she said, “hurt people hurt other people.”
“Yes, I may be a dreamer, thinking that love, acceptance and compassion toward others might change things,” Dupuy said. “A very wise and talented songwriter has assured me that ‘I am not the only one’ that wants to imagine a better tomorrow.”
At the walk, others were imagining that better tomorrow, and supporting organizations that work to get there. Diane said the donations for agencies like STOP Domestic Violence program operated by Behavioral Health Services of the North Country or “The Friends and Family of Jamie Rose Martin” were pouring in.
“This community is overwhelming in the best way,” she said.
Diane said she misses Jamie more than people will ever know. Looking around at her grandkids, the booths of domestic violence services and complete strangers who now knew Jamie’s name on Saturday, she felt that some good had come out of tragedy.
But the work is not done. Two days earlier, a forum was organized at the Tupper Lake High School for the Martin family and the public to discuss ways to stop domestic violence with experts in the field.
This month, the Tupper Lake town and village boards passed resolutions establishing every May 10 as Jamie Rose Martin Domestic Violence Awareness Day.
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