In the United States, an average of 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
This week, we speak with a daughter whose mother paid the ultimate price. It was death.
Mallory Davidson’s mother lived at 1217 Gunnison Drive in Waco. The house sits on a quiet street in an upper middle class neighborhood.
Behind the doors of the lovely brick house Davidson’s mother, Rebecca Penix, called home were deadly secrets.
“They were upper middle class, Caucasian, in their 50s. They [had] been married 16 years,” Davidson says of her mother Rebecca and her stepfather Michael. She remembers her mom as happy and always smiling.
“She was awesome. She was my best friend,” Davidson says.
Behind the smile, her mother hid suffering.
“I found out after-the-fact, that he [Michael Penix] had all of the finances tied up, which I understand is very common in these situations,” Davidson says. “So, I think part of [why she stayed], I think part of it was she was afraid.”
Penix was a victim of domestic abuse, but she stayed with her husband, trying to make the best of her situation.
“I think maybe she was trying to help him. She had a huge heart,” Davidson remembers of her mother.
All the help in the world could not have prepared anyone for the early morning hours of Sunday, September 13, 2015.
“I had just turned 30. I had just gotten back from an international trip for my birthday, and I got the call in the middle of the night that she had been shot and killed,” Davidson says, fighting back tears. “Then all hell broke loose. It feels kind of like being set on fire.”
According to police, her mother’s husband of 16 years, Michael, called 911 admitting to police he shot his wife.
Later on, Davidson says her stepfather claimed Rebecca woke up in the middle of the night to argue with him. That’s when he shot her.
“I feel like every move was calculated. I can see that now. Very clearly,” Davidson said.
A clear picture she now sees of what was unfolding right before her eyes.
“I didn’t think it would ever happened to me or my family, so that was part of it. And I wish I would’ve known to look for, like isolation… ” Davidson says between emotions. “Isolation is a big one that I would’ve noticed, had I known that was part of it. Her moods, she was having a lot of down moods. Which now makes a lot of sense. But at the time, it didn’t. But now, but now I know why.”
It’s a pattern Davidson recognizes and hopes other can see.
“It’s especially important now to share the story. And I do that for her. And that’s what keeps me going,” Davidson says. “There’s two ways to leave – either walk out or you get carried out.”
“I would say go. Don’t just walk, run,” Davidson urges. “Get out of there. Run toward something beautiful. It’s a tough thing to talk about, but it needs to be talked about. People need to know.”
Michael Penix was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the shooting death of his wife. He would have to serve at least 30 years before being eligible for parole.
Davidson says six years before her mother’s murder, in 2009, Michael Penix choked and assaulted Rebecca. Police responded, but her mother did not press charges.
The couple got counseling and thought things would be okay.
We can help victims of domestic violence by donating to local shelters who help women and families escape violent situations. Families in Crisis and the Family Abuse Center help families leave dangerous situations.
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