A Note from Tracy Schott, host, the Voices4Change Show: I am looking forward to interviewing Janine Latus — author of the international bestseller If I Am Missing or Dead: A sister’s story of love, murder, and liberation.
Janine has spoken around the world on the spectrum of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Audiences include the United States Navy, universities, shelters, Major League Baseball, and corporations because the idea that ‘what happens in the home, stays in the home’ is getting people killed. Instead, she advocates for people to talk, tell their stories, and thus free others to tell theirs.
Janine did not begin her career as an advocate. At the time that she made the switch, she was writing for magazines like O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents, Fitness, Family Circle, and Woman’s Day. Then her family suffered a great tragedy, and she realized that it was time to talk.
On today’s show: We will focus on the impact of emotional abuse and discuss what it looks like, what the risks are, and why it matters. Janine will share her story and help us all understand the importance of acknowledging and talking about our experiences.
About Tracy’s show: With the goal of ending intimate partner violence, Tracy’s documentary “Finding Jenn’s Voice,” brought to light the horrifying fact that one of the leading causes of death during pregnancy is homicide. Determined to stop the international devastation, the Pennsylvania-based entrepreneur has launched a weekly podcast/video series to shine a light on the survivors and experts around the world who are working toward the same goal.
In April 2002, Janine Latus’s youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved, it read, but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected me…
That same spring Janine Latus was struggling to leave her marriage — a marriage to a handsome and successful man. A marriage others emulated. A marriage in which she felt she could do nothing right and everything wrong. A marriage in which she felt afraid, controlled, inadequate, and trapped.
Ten weeks later, Janine Latus had left her marriage. She was on a business trip to the East Coast, savoring her freedom, attending a work conference, when she received a call from her sister Jane asking if she’d heard from Amy. Immediately, Janine’s blood ran cold. Amy was missing.
Helicopters went up and search dogs went out. Coworkers and neighbors and family members plastered missing posters with Amy’s picture across the county. It took more than two weeks to find Amy’s body, wrapped in a tarpaulin and buried at a building site. It took nearly two years before her killer, her former boyfriend Ron Ball, was sentenced for her murder.
Amy died in silent fear and pain. Haunted by this, Janine Latus turned her journalistic eye inward. How, she wondered, did two seemingly well-adjusted, successful women end up in strings of physically or emotionally abusive relationships with men? If I Am Missing or Dead is a heart-wrenching journey of discovery as Janine Latus traces the roots of her own — and her sister’s — victimization with unflinching candor. This beautifully written memoir will move readers from the first to the last page. At once a confession, a call to break the cycle of abuse, and a deeply felt love letter to her baby sister, Amy Lynne Latus, If I Am Missing or Dead is an unforgettable read.