Jamie Kimble’s parents were excited and relieved when she finally broke up with her boyfriend for good. The two would split but always get back together, with him promising to change, promising to stop the emotional abuse.
This time was different, though. Jamie ended the relationship, and this time there would be no getting back together. “We were all excited about that,” her mother, Jan, told Observer editors and reporters on Monday. “We just wish we would have realized that’s when she was in the most danger.”
Three months after the breakup, Jamie flew to Tampa for her job with Coca-Cola Consolidated. Her boyfriend met her at the airport and offered her a ride to her hotel. She got in.
After driving for a bit, he shot her twice, once in the heart, then killed himself.
Jamie Kimble was 31.
She would have turned 34 on Monday. To honor her birthday and raise awareness about domestic violence, more than 700 people gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center. They did so just one week after a man in east Charlotte shot his girlfriend, Alisa Mackey, multiple times, killing her, before turning the gun on himself. And they did so less than a month after the Dallas Cowboys signed former Carolina Panther Greg Hardy to a one-year deal worth up to $13 million despite allegations that he assaulted and threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend in Charlotte last year.
Jamie’s parents, Ron and Jan Kimble, started the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage in her memory. It aims to raise awareness about domestic violence and fund initiatives around education and prevention.
Its work, along with that of Safe Alliance and others, is vital. Like mental illness, a wholly undeserved stigma remains attached to domestic violence and its victims. The Kimble Foundation is helping bring it out of the shadows.
So is the NFL, ironically, with its belated response to domestic violence acts by and allegations against its players. The league put all 32 of its teams through training and ran ads during the Super Bowl.
Its response, though, came only after public relations demanded it, and its commitment over time is still to be tested.
The challenge, of course, goes far beyond the NFL. With one in four women suffering some kind of abuse in their lifetimes, and with the pain crossing all demographic lines, we are all responsible for reporting suspicions and helping people in need to get help.
Companies need to help suffering workers. The criminal justice system must treat violent offenders as sternly as they deserve. Schools and parents need to teach young people about what healthy relationships look like.
The culture is changing around domestic violence, thankfully, with people increasingly aware and open to talking about it. We’re glad the Kimbles and so many others are working hard to further that conversation.