Jenna (not her real name) was only 37 when she died. Her official cause of death was listed as pneumococcal pneumonia, but the truth is her spirit had been slowly dying for years. Jenna’s husband, Jack, was a serial abuser who, on at least 17 occasions we know of, beat this beautiful, tenderhearted mother of four with his fists. 

Not long before her death, Jack hit her so hard her head slammed into a wall. Later the same day she was trying to communicate but wasn’t making sense. Jenna’s oldest child called her older sister, Renee, and said, “Mom’s talking but not making any sense, Aunt Renee. Dad hit her earlier.” Sadly, Jenna passed away not long after the phone call to Renee, leaving a broken and devastated family behind…

Sometimes our life’s true purpose is thrust upon us in an instant. Renee took action and learned about the other incidences of abuse through the Freedom of Information Act. Jenna never pressed charges or told anyone, a pattern repeated far too often by victims of abuse. Jack remains free while their four children are navigating life without their mother. Renee’s life purpose is to bring abuse out of the shadows of shame and denial and expose the bullies. Abuse of all types, physical, emotional and sexual is prevalent in our culture. But the victims are fearful. Their spirits have been crushed, lifelong dreams shattered by disillusionment, long after the physical pain subsides. For the abuser, it’s all about power and control: isolating their spouses from family and friends, withholding provision, threatening their spouse while keeping them in an unsafe environment, living in fear, feeling helpless and hopeless. 

Men don’t hurt women. Men take care of others. Period. Men make others feel valued, safe and cared for.

Renee struggles, she cries and grieves the loss of her sister and best friend Jenna. The hole in her heart will never be completely filled, but her pain can be fuel for her life’s purpose: building safe houses for victims of abuse, helping abused people find the courage to leave the abuser and seek safety, restore hope to the hopeless, and help people recover their self-esteem and see their lives have value and meaning.

If you or someone you suspect is being abused, call 911 if you are in immediate danger. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available for confidential counseling at 800.799.7233. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Let’s get rid of domestic violence for good. There is no shame in reaching out for help…


  • John Harrell

    Life is to be lived, not merely existed through.

    John Harrell manages a successful business, writes a daily inspirational blog, and regularly engages in public speaking. His audiences include corporations, trade associations, college students and incarcerated children - truly a “captive” audience. In 2018, Harrell published his first book, “Killing My Father Then Finding Him” which became a number-one bestseller the first day of publication on Amazon.   John is a fortunate survivor of childhood physical and emotional abuse. Because of his upbringing, Harrell is able to connect with struggling children, offering hope to kids in sometimes hopeless situations. Our futures are not limited by our circumstances. Everyone has the power to break the generational malady of abuse, and live a meaningful and full life.   Harrell serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Rachel’s Challenge, the largest program in the world which focuses on kindness and compassion. Named for Rachel Joy Scott, the first child killed at Columbine High School, Rachel’s Challenge transforms the lives of almost 2 million people per year in across the globe. John lives in Austin, Texas, and is the proud father of two sons.