She Left Him. So He Shot Her.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Help is available if you or someone you know is in danger.
“All the signs were there. I had been warning and warning,” Kate Ranta told a packed room at Walter Reed Community Center last week, remembering the many times her estranged husband violated a January 2011 restraining order. She had finally worked up the courage to leave him after three years of abuse. They were in the middle of an ugly divorce in Florida. The threats continued. “It was like nobody would take me seriously. Nobody would listen.”
On Nov. 2, 2012, Ranta’s husband arrived at her apartment with a gun. He shot Ranta and her father while the couple’s then 4-year-old son, William, cried, “Don’t do it! Don’t shoot Mommy!”
Two bullets pierced Ranta’s right hand and her left breast. Her father suffered a shot in his left arm and side. Both survived, but each one sustained permanent nerve damage.
Those aren’t the only scars. Today Ranta still suffers from PTSD. An Alexandria mother of two boys (she also has an older son from a previous marriage), she is an outspoken advocate for stricter gun control laws through groups like Moms Demand Action. Her ex-husband is now in jail.
On Oct. 4, with William (now 8) at her side, she shared her story during a community forum organized by Arlington County’s Project PEACE (Partnering to End Abuse in the Community for Everyone), a collaborative program of the Arlington County Dept. of Human Services that engages local government, law enforcement, nonprofits, the faith community, health care providers and citizens in combating domestic violence.
Ranta’s wasn’t the only testimony during the event, which brought together more than 60 community members, including police officers, counselors and fellow victims.
“I used to have the most wonderful sister in the world,” said Virginia Del. Mark Levine (45th District) “until she was murdered by her husband, two months after telling me that he had threatened to kill her. Neither of us believed he would. I’ve learned the hard way.”
Nationwide, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
In addition, “one in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence yearly,” Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall reported during the event, “and 90 percent of those children have been eyewitnesses to that violence.”
Arlington is not immune. During her three years as director of domestic and sexual violence programs at Doorways for Women and Families, Christa Carleton said she has seen an increased demand for services. In the past year alone, calls to the hotline have doubled (the hotline now receives roughly 8 calls per day) and referrals to the local nonprofit’s “safe house” have increased by 33 percent. Today, the safe house is nearly always close to full occupancy.
“One of the important things we can do,” Carleton urged attendees, “is know what resources there are in our community and how to support the people we love in getting access to those services.”
“My office has always held the belief that victims must be championed and offenders must be held accountable,” said Theo Stamos, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. “However, domestic violence occurs every day in Arlington County that never touches the criminal justice system. All of us need to take a stand against all forms of domestic violence, wherever it occurs. We must continue to strive to be a community where neighbors can rely on one another for support and to make Arlington County a safer place for everyone.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here are some important community resources.
To report an assault (24/7):
Contact Arlington County Police at 9-1-1 (emergency) or 703-558-2222 (non-emergency).
For crisis support (24/7):
Including safety planning and/or shelter services, contact Doorways for Women and Families at 703-237-0881 (hotline) or visit doorwaysVA.org
For medical support (24/7):
Including forensic examinations, call the Inova Ewing Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team (FACT) at 703-776-4001 and ask to page a FACT nurse. Or visit inova.org/inova-in-the-community/fact
For legal system support (available during business hours):
Call the Arlington County Victim/Witness Program at 703-228-4410, or the Doorways Court Advocacy Program at 703-228-3749
For mental health services (available during business hours):
The Doorways Revive Counseling Program provides short-term counseling to adults and youth. For more info, call the Doorways Hotline at 703-237-0881. Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare Services also offers counseling services. Call 703-228-5150 or visit health.arlingtonva.us/behavioral-healthcare