Kay Marie Sisto — our daughter, mother, sister, auntie, keeper of misfits, animal lover, best chocolate chip cookie baker, soulmate, secret keeper, and best friend — was murdered by her estranged husband on May 26, 2010.

The clocks stopped. The sun darkened. The universe shook.

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of Kay’s murder, our family wants to bring awareness to the epidemic of domestic abuse. Here are 10 things you must know today:

Many women — and some men — stay because they assume the abuser will change. In Kay’s situation, he did not change. He shot her three times in the head to make sure she couldn’t rise again. She still rises.

Domestic abuse is verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, and financial. Kay’s abuse was verbal and emotional until the end.

Domestic abuse is about controlling and overpowering another human being.

An abuser’s goal is to keep you inside the cage constructed for you. When Kay decided to leave, he wouldn’t allow her to open the cage.

Four women per day are killed by an intimate partner in the U.S.

An abused woman is six times more likely to be killed when a gun is present in the home.

If you are being abused, tell a trusted friend, co-worker, pastor, or family member. (Activist Leslie Steiner Morgan has even said to tell a stranger if you need to.)

If somebody is belittling, demeaning, and minimizing you, this is abuse. Period.

When you decide to leave your abuser, you are considered in “The Red Zone,” the most dangerous time for a woman. Make a safety plan before you decide to leave. Kay was stalked and shot before the divorce was final.

If a friend confides she is being abused, believe her, listen to her, support her, comfort her, and love her. Do not judge the woman who stays; judge the man who abuses, beats, devalues, and kills.

We see you. We hear you. Your life matters.

Kim Sisto Robinson lives in Duluth.


Resources available in the Northland for victims of domestic violence include:

  • National Domestic Abuse Hotline: (800) 799-7233, thehotline.org

  • Safe Haven, Duluth: (218) 623-1000, safehavenshelter.org

  • Mending the Sacred Hoop: (888) 305-1650, mshoop.org

  • CASDA, or the Center Against Sexual & Domestic Abuse, Superior: (715) 392-3136, casda.org

  • DAIP, or the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, Duluth: (218) 522-4525, theduluthmodel.org

  • Fond du Lac Advocacy Program: (218) 348-1817

  • Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, St. Paul: (866) 223-1111, vfmn.org

A more exhaustive list of resources is at theduluthmodel.org/resources/.


On Facebook: facebook.com/MyInnerChick

Her blog: myinnerchick.com/