by Anne Peterson
If only I had known that conversation would have been our last. I would have stayed on the phone forever.
With grief there are stages a person goes through. And eventually they get to a point where they are coping as they desperately try to find how to move on.
But when a person is murdered, it’s a different set of rules. You don’t just get over it.
Grief is hard enough when a loved one dies. You have to accept the fact you will never see them again, never hear their voice. It’s unbearable at times.
But add to that a bunch of questions that never get answered and you have just complicated the whole process.
My name is Anne Peterson and my sister Peggy Dianovsky, went missing on September 12, 1982. We never believed she walked out as her husband claimed.
We knew she was going for custody of her children.
We knew she was advised not to leave the state, by her attorney.
We knew she loved being a mother than anything else in the world.
Still, we were told she walked out. And sadder still, that’s what her boys were told.
Our day in court
In 2004, we went to court as her missing person case had been changed to a possible homicide. We sat there listening to testimony after testimony.
Foolishly, I thought with more information I would feel better. I was wrong.
At one point, they wheeled in a monitor and played a video of Peggy’s house in Schaumburg. As the camera scanned her front entryway and her door swung open my stomach tied in knots.
Leaning over I said to my brother, “I can’t do this.” But I did. In fact, when it was my turn to testify, I did that too.
I remember how quiet the courtroom became on the day of sentencing. I was certain others around me could hear my heart beating out of my chest. And then Judge Porter spoke. “I find the defendant…
Over in a moment
Really? Was it going to be over in a matter of moments. All our waiting, all our crying?
We knew going in there no matter what the outcome, we’d never have what we really wanted. Peggy.
And now in a matter of moments it would be over. Well, not really. You see, you never get over it. You just try you best to keep going.
“I find the defendant, “Not guilty.”
We sat there unable to move while the other side of the courtroom erupted in cheers, high fives and pats on the back for my brother-in-law.
We were quickly escorted out of the courtroom.
One thing the court system allows are impact statements. It’s when a family member is allowed to share with the court how the death has impacted the family. A statement describing the hell you’ve endured without your loved one, trying to understand what’s impossible to understand. There, in court, in front of all those listening ears.
But here’s the kicker. When there’s no conviction, you don’t get to make that statement.
It’s as if it didn’t happen. That added insult to injury. For no matter what the verdict was, the crime was still committed. A life was erased from a family forever.
If you are dealing with this situation my heart goes out to you. I felt compelled to share my sister’s story as well as my own in my book, BROKEN: A Story of Abuse and Survival.
It’s a book for those who have been abused. It’s for those who are being abused right now. But it’s also a book for those who have no clue about abuse. We need to educate those who look at abuse and ask questions like, “Why didn’t she just leave?”And while it’s a common question, it’s important to know that’s exactly when some are killed. Peggy was trying to leave.
Our lives were forever changed with Peggy’s death.
Domestic violence is real. It’s painful. And we need to do something about it.
One day, it could be your family member. I hope it never is. With all my heart, I hope it never is.
I’d like to share that writing my book really helped me in many ways. I have heard it is a good resource, and that is rewarding. But because I have written it, I have freed up other things inside me. I am now writing children’s books! I believe they were hiding under the pain.
There is hope on the other side. Just take one step at a time. You are not alone.
Anne Peterson has been a contributor to Time’s Up. She is a poet, speaker and published author of Real Love: Guaranteed to Last, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, and most recently, her first children’s book, Emma’s Wish. Anne’s poetry is sold throughout the U.S. and in 23 countries. For more information about Anne visit http://www.annepeterson.com, or https://www.facebook.com/annepetersonwrites.