As you probably know, a man from Ohio (Steve Stephens), whose girlfriend broke off their relationship, shot and killed an innocent elderly man this past Easter weekend (2017). Stephens posted a video of the killing on facebook and blamed his ex girlfriend for his actions. “She made him do what he did because she broke up with him.” Sound familiar?
First of all, I’m not going to refer to Stephens as the Facebook Killer. That gives him notoriety that he doesn’t deserve. History shows that killers such as the Boston Strangler, the Zodiac Killer, the Hitch Hiker Killer, Jack the Ripper, the Craigslist Killer, and many others will come to mind because of the catchy thriller nickname. But, I bet there aren’t many who remember the names of their victims.
Stephens’ notoriety should exist only as an example of a dangerous extent of narcissism to heap on to the growing pile of carnage we see daily. When Stephens told Mr. Goodwin that his former girlfriend (Joy Lane) was the reason he was going to die that day, Stephens believed it. Something lined up in his mind that told him that since he was betrayed and abandoned someone had to die. (Had he lived, he may have been diagnosed as a psychopath at some point.) That’s the difference between a narcissist’s mind and the rest of the world, and the number of them are growing. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.
My mind honed in on two things when it first hit the news. 1) Ms. Lane will likely experience an emotional and mental process that I’m familiar with. And 2) the probability that Stephens would end his life because of how public he made the ordeal. He had nothing to lose, and was otherwise going to jail. He believed it was all HER fault that his life took such are horrid turn. In his final moments he didn’t own his actions beyond what he faced if he lived.
The reason I believed this about him is because, once upon a time, in a hand written birthday card I received when I was a child, I was told that what was going to happen was “for me.” Seven days later my father held a gun in his mouth and altered the course of my life forever. Not only did this fracture my soul and load me with guilt for many years; coupled with events that occurred when we lived in Boston, I believed my father was the Boston Strangler. The details of why aren’t so important.
So, I was a melancholy teen carrying the burden being a child of a serial killer and was the blame for his death. Heavy stuff. When the serial killer facts were corrected, finally, I’m not sure I was fully convinced. However, my footsteps were guided by a belief that his death was my fault if not always consciously, sub consciously. The grips of this abusive narcissistic blame reality can reach from the grave in not so subtle ways.
Hopefully Ms Lane has a huge support system and enough going for herself that she gets above it quickly, and there won’t be much reach from that grave. The reality is Stephens was attracted to her for a reason. Narcissists gravitate to people who will enable them to continue that narcissist terror trail. Two of Mr. Goodwin’s daughters graciously spoke to Ms. Lane, saying that it wasn’t her fault. However, being referenced as the reason something bad happens takes people around unexpected corners like a roller coaster they can’t stop.
I believe beyond a doubt that when Stephens looked at Mr. Goodwin in those seconds before he pulled the trigger, he believed Ms Lane was fully to blame for his actions that day. That’s how a narcissist thinks. It’s their reality. They feel an actual deep sorrow. And then when he realized the consequences coming his way, he was in total despair. His emotion was the real deal, but Stephens came to it from a twisted perspective and that’s what is so confusing for their victims. A narcissist doesn’t think like people who are not narcissists, and that’s where it all begins and ends.
As with the San Bernadino shooting, a domestic dispute spilled over on to people who had nothing to do with the couple’s personal life. Unfortunately, unless there is some outrageous larger than life act, society in general doesn’t get that domestic abuse is not just a “private matter.” Those “in authority” who come into close proximity to domestic abuse are generally not educated to see the signs, they don’t know what to do, or understand the domino effect it has within that family and beyond. Domestic abuse ALWAYS affects other people. That being said, the mindset that domestic abuse between intimate partners has nothing to do with the CHILDREN involved (and child abuse) is the most ignorant myth known to mankind. There isn’t a polite way to say that. It just is what it is.
Let’s not allow Mr. Goodwin’s death to be in vain. Send the message to legislators that domestic abuse must be taken seriously because too many lives are lost or changed forever. Protect children from exposure to domestic abuse by changing laws for better protection.
Domestic violence claimed my hearing about 30 years ago. My former husband walked away shortly after that and has had no contact with my four children and I since. My current husband and I are in our 21st year of marriage, and we have leaned into the wind and not accepted a generational lie that abuse must be endured. You can read more about Grace here.
Authors express their own opinions which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Stop Abuse Campaign.