Archive for April 10th, 2011

“A tattoo on your brain”

The ripple effect of murder is so often overlooked.


David Wallin’s wife Teresa, who was 7 months pregnant, was murdered by Richard Trenton Chase in 1978. David came home to find his wife lying murdered on the floor of their bedroom, shot twice in the head, her body disemboweled. The article is about how David has survived and coped since then.

For David Wallin, who found her in their North Sacramento home on Tioga Way, the image is still fresh.

“Every time you see something on TV, read anything, it takes you there,” Wallin said. “That image, I wish it could’ve been eliminated, but you can’t get it out of there.”

Instead, as the survivor of a loved one who was murdered, he has had to learn to coexist with the memory.

“You see a lot of victims say there’s no ‘closure,’ ” Wallin said. “You can throw the word out. I don’t care if you put the guy to death – my loved one is not here. It goes on.”

I can not imagine finding my loved one murdered never mind finding in the horrific display that Chase caused.

Soon after the murder, Wallin said, he went back to work, while friends looked after him to make sure he didn’t “go over the deep end.”

But for many survivors of murder victims, the pain of loss is “like a tattoo in your brain,” said Carole McDonald, founder of Volunteers in Victim Assistance, a Sacramento organization that provides crisis intervention and counseling to victims of violent crime and trauma.

“You get to a place where you’re able to function, where you’re able to live your life,” McDonald said. “But that doesn’t mean you forget.”

Wallin lived a “self-destructive” lifestyle for months, he said. He sought counseling briefly. He found himself wondering if Terry’s life might have been saved had he come home earlier that night.

Survivor guilt is so destructive and I see it over and over again when reading of the loved ones of those murdered. Imagine how many “what – if’s” they must suffer through.

In the 1980s, he began volunteering with Volunteers in Victim Assistance, fundraising and helping to counsel other people who had lost loved ones to violence, he said.

“It gave him something positive to focus on, that he felt he could help somebody else,” Fandrich said.

Fandrich said Wallin himself usually emerged from talks with other survivors seeming to carry less of an emotional burden.

Wallin never went back into the house he shared with Terry on Tioga Way, which has since been torn down.

I am happy that he found a positive outlet.

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