LaToya Smith had broken up with Tyrone Hester less than a month before he shot and killed their baby daughter and then himself. Before this tragic incident occurred, Smith’s brother in law , Qu’ran Magwood said that Hester was prone to jealousy, possessiveness and control. Smith frequently covered up bruises on her body and Hester did not allow her to go places without him. Smith ended the relationship last month and tried to reach a custody agreement with Hester conflict escalated when he found out she was dating another man.
What is most disturbing about the coverage from The News & Observer is the statement by Smith’s brother in law at the end of the article. Despite the fact that Hester acted in incredibly abusive ways through he and Smith’s four year relationship, Magwood stated: “Ty wasn’t a bad dude. He was a dude who was just madly in love and couldn’t accept no…They were young and in love. They tried. It just didn’t work out. And one took the worlds ‘love you to death’ too far.” This sentiment is something we see often when people discuss domestic violence. Obsession, control and manipulation of others is framed as love and devotion. This obscures the reality that abusers make a deliberate choice to abuse.
Love and abuse cannot peacefully co-exist. Hester’s actions of physical abuse, control, isolation and and jealousy are all quintessential signs of an abusive and dangerous relationship. Part of being in a healthy relationship is always having the opportunity to leave it without guilt or fear; Smith did not have that opportunity. Labeling Hester’s actions as “love” detracts from the purposeful intent of his behaviors and the damaging and painful loss that Smith now experiences in losing her daughter. It also implies that Smith could or should have done something different to end the outcome of this situation and that if she had just acquiesced to Hester’s demands her daughter might still be alive. Blaming the victim, even inadvertently, is never okay.
If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one in an abusive relationship, call our hotline at 919-929-7122 to speak to a trained advocate. Love and abuse are never synonymous.