My mom and I were discussing the Shaquan Duley tragedy last week. We had two different views on whether or not she had suffered a psychotic break. If you don’t know what happened, here’s a brief recap of the situation. Shaquan Duley is a 29 year old single black mother from South Carolina. On August 16, 2010, she rented a hotel room and suffocated her two young sons by covering their mouths with her hands. They were ages 2 and 1. She then buckled them into their car seats and drove her car into a lake. They were dead before they hit the water. The police pulled her car out of the lake and the boys bodies out of their car seats. The story being circulated in the media is that she has confessed to murdering her two sons due to pressures from her mother on her ability to not care for her children. She is facing two counts of murder.
As a mother of one, I can’t imagine the pain that this family must be going through. I’ve never been to a child’s funeral, and I hope I will never have to go to one. My son is 2 years old and I can’t imagine there being any reason that I could ever take his life. However, I don’t and can’t begin to pass judgement on this woman and her family. I don’t know what pushed Shaquan to the edge where she saw no way out of her situation, but to take her children’s lives. I just believe that she had a psychotic break. The medical dictionary (www.medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com) describes psychotic break as:
Psychosis is a symptom or feature of mental illness typically characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality. Based on this definition, I would tend to believe that Shaquan is suffering from psychosis. Maybe she suffered from Post Postpartum Depression (PPD). I believe that if PPD is left untreated, it can last a lifetime. I am not saying she is not guilty of her crime, but if we look at the number of women who seem to loose their sense of reality and commit the most horrendous crimes, then we realize that she is one of many. Look at Andrea Yates, Susan Smith, Kenesia Berry, etc. There are many stories of women who kill their children. Many of these stories don’t make the national headlines, but they exist and we shouldn’t forget their fallen angels. Let’s not rush to pass judgement on this case or the next because as her lawyer, Carl B. Grant said: “I have often said in cases like this, where the emotions of the masses have been aroused so high, there is a thin line, truly, between lynching and a trial.
Lee and I recently celebrated our 8th year of marriage. By no means is it historic by most standards, but we are very proud. Lee and I come from somewhat similar backgrounds. His parents were never married and my mom married my dad after I was born and divorced before my 10th birthday. When Lee and I got engaged, we immediately began pre-marital counseling. One of the things we unanimously agreed on was the fact that neither one of us was raised in a successfully married family, so we needed help. Successful marriages take work and we wanted to take advantages of all the things available to make it happen. A great piece of advice that I received before I got married was that “The key to a successful marriage is two people who believe in the institution of marriage and will do whatever it takes to fight for it.” I loved that thought. I began to wonder would Lee and I fight for our marriage? We spend so much time fighting over the little things, but would we fight for the sanctity of our marriage? Would we preserve what God has blessed us with and not let any foreign or domestic invaders inside of our house?
I was scared at the thought that our marriage would be a failure, but I’ve learned how to work on the issues and not hide behind the problems. When I seek counseling from friends about our situation, they laugh at me and the situation, but their advice comes from a place of love. Until today, I didn’t know that they were “Friends of Our Marriage”. These friends give supporting and encouraging advice and tell us that we can weather the storms that come our way. They are the community that promised to love and guide us through our marital journey. Lee and I are thankful for the Friends of Our Marriage. There are too many to name, but you know who you are.
Do you have friends of your marriage? Read this article and find out who really is a friend of your marriage and who is a potential jump-off.