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Witness to abuse . . . beginning at age 2

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Lashondra Dansby's mother Frances Dansby and her brother Allen Dansby were killed by her father after years of domestic violence. Dansby said witnessing the abuse over the years made it hard for her to show love to others. (Ariel Worthy/Birmingham Times)

By Ariel Worthy

The Birmingham Times

Lashondra Dansby's mother Frances Dansby and her brother Allen Dansby were killed by her father after years of domestic violence. Dansby said witnessing the abuse over the years made it hard for her to show love to others. (Ariel Worthy/Birmingham Times)
Lashondra Dansby’s mother Frances Dansby and her brother Allen Dansby were killed by her father after years of domestic violence. Dansby said witnessing the abuse over the years made it hard for her to show love to others. (Ariel Worthy/Birmingham Times)

 

Now at age 39, Lashondra Dansby feels comfortable talking about the domestic violence incident that claimed her mother’s and brother’s lives. Her mother had been the victim of abuse since Dansby was a child.

“I’m alright now,” she said in a recent interview. “I’ve always wanted to get to a point where I could share their story so their deaths won’t be in vain. I feel if you can reach out to at least one person, you’ve done your duty. Hopefully they’ll reach out to someone else.”

Here’s her story:

Dansby and her family, who lived in Birmingham, would always cringe when her father came around.

“We were our happiest when [my father] was gone,” Dansby recalled. “When he became a truck driver that was awesome because he was gone a lot, but we knew when he came back it was going to be something,”

“The first time I remember him doing anything to my mom I was maybe two,” Dansby said. “Often people say you can’t remember anything from that age, but I do.”

Dansby remembered the last time her mother decided to leave her father. He had been away from home for a few days, and as usual he came home “creating chaos.”

“My mom was in the room reading. He came in and immediately started ranting and raving about her stealing some money from him,” Dansby recalled.  “He jumped on the bed and started choking her, and he dragged her from their bedroom to the dining room and he took her head and he hit it against the window seat. We ended up going back to the shelter.”

That was her mother, Frances Dansby’s last straw. On their wedding anniversary, her mother filed for divorce. “She didn’t want anything, she just wanted to be free,” Dansby said.

After they moved out, Dansby’s 15-year-old brother decided to stay with his father because he did not want to leave his friends, but Dansby and her mother would check on him frequently.

One day her father took her mother to buy a car. “My brother and I offered to go, but my dad was adamant about us not going,” Dansby said. “My mom came back and she had a look on her face as if she had seen a ghost. She was frantic, and wanted to leave immediately. My dad pretended as if nothing happened.”

Her father attempted to kill her mother and himself by running into an 18-wheeler, Dansby said.

The next day her mother went to visit her father and that day was the last time she saw her mother, Dansby said.

“I used to get mad at myself for not remembering certain details,” Dansby said. “She had on some bright shorts, some tiny socks, some tennis shoes, a black auburn shirt that had a basketball on it and her purse was black.”

Dansby said her mother and her brother, who was living with her father at the time, were murdered. The year was 1993. She was 16 at the time.

Their bodies were never found, but Dansby believes her father put their bodies in an area he knew best: Hooper City.  “That’s where he was from and he knew the area like the back of his hand,” she said.

Her father received a life sentence, Dansby said but she wanted him to tell her the truth.

“He wouldn’t make eye contact with me, he wouldn’t look at me at all.” Dansby said. “He was still lying to me, telling me that my mom took my brother to store” and he didn’t know what happened to them.

Her father died while in prison in 2011 from a heart attack, Dansby said.