When a beloved second-grade teacher, Kim Baucom Conover, was shot and killed by her estranged husband before he killed himself on April 15, it left many friends and neighbors shocked, saddened, and wondering if anything could have been done to prevent the tragedy.
The murder-suicide also prompted a desire to confront domestic violence, whiach is an ongoing but usually unnoticed problem in Petaluma. Baucom Conover's was the second death related to domestic violence in two years, following that of Buapha Mullennix in early 2010.
"When this first happened with Kim, a lot of people said, (the Fabulous Women) should do an event for her," recalled Krista Gawronski, founder and leader of the Fabulous Women, a group of community-minded women who energetically support various causes around town.
"But we really wanted to give the family time and space to grieve, do something with their blessing and properly acknowledge their daughter," she said.
So it is that four months later, on Sunday, Aug. 12, the Fabulous Women will host "Let's Face It," an event intended to confront domestic violence head-on in a three-hour program. It will feature speakers like District Attorney Jill Ravitch, a representative of the Sonoma County YWCA, and a survivor of domestic violence.
Gawronski said she hopes the day will be both educational for women around the community and a tribute to Kim Baucom (her friends and family refer to her now by her maiden name), who was a member of the Fabulous Women.
"We're hoping this will be a life-changing day, where we can reinforce to women that they're not alone, that there's resources out there that can change your life," Gawronski said, adding that her group hopes to dispel the stereotype that only a certain sort of woman falls victim to domestic violence, pointing out that strong, independent women also find themselves in such situations.
"Domestic violence is an ugly thing nobody wants to talk about," Gawronski said, adding that many people don't think they need to learn about it because they don't believe it applies to their lives. "The reality is, maybe you have a friend or colleague in trouble," she said. "We want people to be armed with all this information and know that there are all these fabulous community resources out there."
Those resources include the Sonoma County YWCA, the Family Justice Center and the Petaluma Police Department, all of which will have representatives at the event. Baucom's sister will be there as well, helping to bring the event full circle, Gawronski said.
Current and prospective City Council members have also said they'll attend, along with County Supervisor David Rabbitt, who will say a few words before introducing Ravitch.
"I think it will be a great event," Rabbitt said. "This is something we need to keep in the public forefront, women need to know that help is there." Rabbitt was shopping at the Petaluma Market with his wife that Sunday morning that Baucom was shot, and the memory of the day has stayed with him. "Who would have thought, on a Sunday morning in our peaceful town, that this would happen, and who would have thought it would be domestic violence?" he asked.
Ravitch said she plans to talk about how to keep such a tragedy from happening again, focusing on resources like the Family Justice Center, a year-old organization dedicated to empowering the victims of domestic violence around the county.