It’s impossible to grasp Maggie Baker’s story unless you’ve lived it.
The horrific details of her near-death at the hands of a psychopathic serial rapist and killer 30 years ago can’t be captured in writing or grasped in the details as she retold her story to the 40 or so people on hand for Linking Caring, Compassion and Kindness’ first public gathering June 27 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw.
It was a hot summer night in 1981 when Baker opted to skip a swim with friends and head home from her job as a nurse in the University district.
Out of nowhere a car began tailgating her vehicle and forced her off the road. The driver of the car tried to get her to exit her vehicle. As she attempted to thwart her assailant, she was shot three times in the chest with a .357 Magnum at point-blank range. She managed to speed off and eventually was found bleeding to death in someone’s yard.
She didn’t die. She tells her story to groups like LINCCK to help make changes – for victims and for those who end up committing the crimes.
Her story, she told the group, is how violence against one person affects everyone.
She explained the man who attacked her was a neglected child, who was later abused by a family member. He would grow to be an abuser. She was not his first victim and he was not a stranger to the criminal justice system. She faced him in trial and put him away, but she’s aware there are others like him.
Abused and neglected kids are more likely to continue the cycle of violence, she said.
Good victim’s services are hard to find.
“It’s called the criminal justice system, not the victim justice system,” she said.
Through her association with a number of organizations, she’s an advocate for short- and long-term help for victims and more mental health for those who need it.
She’s supporting a grassroots law enforcement program called Fight Crime/Invest in Kids.
“It’s proven that prevention for child abuse and neglect makes a difference,” she said.
LINCCK and other programs in Enumclaw like National Night Out, the mental health task force taking shape, Rachel’s Challenge and the Purple Light Nights give her hope.
“I am so impressed with what you are doing in this community,” she said.
“You can make change at the community level. By believing as individuals and community members you can change this.”
Neighbors caring for neighbors is the LINCCK mantra.
LINCCK leader Trip Hart said violence takes many forms like a shaken baby, striking an elderly person, bullying and domestic violence.
As a member of the Covington Domestic Violence Task Force and founder of Purple Light Nights, Victoria Throm also spoke to the group.
A domestic violence survivor, she said the goal is to break the cycle of silence and violence.
“It happens everywhere as you know. A few weeks ago your community was touched very deeply,” she said.
According to 2010 statistics from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, since 1997, 755 people have lost their lives to domestic violence in Washington state. That number includes 44 children. Enumclaw recently added two more to adults to those numbers.
Throm introduced Purple Light Nights to draw attention to domestic violence. Residents and business owners are encouraged to place purple lights on their doorsteps and windows during the month of October to bring light to the issue.
“The ideal is to saturate our community with the thought that domestic violence has no place in our community,” said Throm, who, in four years, has seen the program grow to include 23 states and three Canadian provinces.