Friday, February 25, 2011

The Beat Stops Here: Officer Involved Family Violence

By Susan Murphy Milano

“Phil had a lot to drink,” he began, his red eyes showing the depths of his emotions. “This is difficult for me to discuss the details with you but your mother was found in the kitchen on the floor—she had been shot with a .44 Magnum. The bullet exited out her right eye and onto the kitchen table.” Tom took a deep breath. “After he shot her, your father took a towel and covered her face. He was found in the bedroom and had shot himself. Susan, when was the last time you spoke with him?” For reasons foreign to me, I felt enraged at the question.

“He murdered my mother! Your “superhero” partner murdered her and you want to know when I spoke to him last? You are just as cold and heartless as he was!” I stood up knowing I wanted no part of the conversation. “Susan, wait, calm down!" Tom also stood. “I know you’re upset but there’s no reason to speak to me that way!”

I spun around to face him, a man I’d known since childhood. My face, clearly showing the contempt I was feeling at that very moment, made my father's partner, Tom Flaherty stop in his tracks.

“Bullshit!” I shouted. “All you care about is your buddy and how you can cover up his mess one more time!”

Knowing he had no defense against the spew of accusations, Chicago Detective Tom Flaherty hung his head in shame and left the residence. I stood motionless, staring at the door, wondering if I should scream or cry—or both. I was in shock. My ultimate fears realized, I felt a sense of relief when the police Chaplin returned to speak with me.

“They are preparing to transport the bodies to the morgue,” he said in almost a whisper. “Someone from the police department will call you in the morning to assist you with the funeral arrangements. Susan, is there anything I can do for you?”

In 1989, officer involved homicide was covered up; considered a black mark against a police department. And any surviving family members who remotely speaks publicly is informed what will 'happen to them," if they do not listen. More then 20 years later, after the murder-suicide of my parents, Roberta and Phillip Murphy, nothing has changed. Police Departments release few details, if any, when a wife of a police officer calls 911 emergency assistance because her husband or significant other is abusing and threatening her very existance.

Once the media learn the person responsible for the crime was in law enforcement, the truth of how many calls a victim made for help, what supervior in the police unit she contacted, or how often officers responded to a call that ultimately lead up to the tragedy, is turned inside out by police departments like a badly stained pair of dirty underwear.

Instead of reporting the facts in these cases, we read stories of victim finger pointing or glorified obituaries on how a "veteran decorated officer" served their community with honor and courage.

The wives and girlfriends in a current or former relationship with a sworn law enforcement officer have had little to no services for assistance when attempting to end and safety leave their relationships, alive. That is until, now.

In 1989, I was scared to come forward to talk about my mother's murder. No one believed us as we attempted to seek help, until she was finally silenced at the age of 47, by my father. I realized that the there was nothing more to lose or fear, ignoring the threats to my own life if I continued speaking out and working with victims.

Each day, when I want to give up and say is it all worth it? Battling a legal system that clearly needs a new pair of glasses and likely has sudden vision and memory loss when I call or enter a courtroom with a victim whose life hangs by a single thread. It is my mothers legacy that pushes me to the dawn of each new day. It is why I am so passionate about ensuring that those whom need assistance to safely end the abuse, do so with their life still in tact. My work and services are based on being in the field with victims and their families. The expertise, over 20 years of being in courtrooms across the country and keeping, wherever possible, victims alive. With special emphasis and expertise on law enforcement and military families as it relates to inmate partner violence.

The book "Time's Up A Guide on How To Survive and Abusive and Stalking Relationship" is the prescription if you will, that every person must obtain before they announce they are leaving. Below is an example from Chapter 4, one of many unique tools provided in the book. It is available on, we can send it to you via e-book or on a cd. If you have questions, the email address is

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit by Susan Murphy Milano from the Book "Time's Up" from Courage Network on Vimeo.

Susan Murphy Milano is with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. She is an expert on intimate partner violence and homicide crimes. For more information visit She is the author of "Time's Up A Guide on How to Leave and SurviveAbusive and Stalking Relationships," available for purchase at the Institute, and wherever books are sold. Susan is the host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show, "Time's Up!" on Here Women Talk is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated The Roth Show with Dr Laurie Roth

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for you. Keep going!

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