Richmond, Virginia Police Sgt., Carol Adams, is tall, slim and beautiful. When she looks at you with love and kindness you don’t expect to hear the story she is about to tell.
“On December 30, 1980, when I was a young teenager,” she says, ” my father, Arthur Adams, shot and killed my mother, Orine, in our Church Hill home. They had been married 17 years. I remember the night as a blur of sirens, hospital waiting rooms, anxious faces of relatives, and the aching helplessness of realizing she wasn’t coming back.”
STORY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Tragically, Carol Adams says, her story is not unique. National statistics cite one in every four American women as physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some time in their lives. All ages, backgrounds, income groups, neighborhoods, races, religions, and professions are affected.
“Since I was 5 years old,” Carol remembers, “there were the sounds of my father hitting my mother. I still have flashbacks of him beating her. I watched the abuse, watched the police come and go, watched her take my father back time after time. As a teenager, I begged her to leave but she wouldn’t discuss it. Domestic violence was a shameful secret in those days, and my younger sister, Patsy, and I were her silent co-conspirators.”
HIDING BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
For years Carol kept her feelings of pain and anguish hidden inside. “People who suffer from domestic abuse are scared,” she said. “They are living in horrible households behind closed doors.”
Carol’s own pain was intensified by the fact that her father took a plea deal in the murder of her mother, and was sentenced to seven years in prison, with five suspended. After 18 months behind bars, he was out on good behavior. Not only had she lost her mother, Carol now had a choice to make about how she would relate to her father.
FORGIVENESS IS THE KEY
She later forgave her father and was by his bedside when he died of cancer in 2002. “Forgiveness is the key,” she said, because without it, “you will never be free.”
After graduating from Maggie Walker High School in 1981, Carol earned a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from the University of Richmond in 2010.
Along the way she gradually learned how important it was to talk openly about what happened. Carol credits her faith with helping her through the tough times. “God has taken care of me and kept me on track,” she says.
A REMARKABLE CAREER
Carol Adams did something else that was remarkable and has made a difference in the lives of countless individuals. She chose a career in law enforcement.
“I knew I could make a difference,” she explains, “through both education and providing protection. Women and children who are victims of domestic violence need to know what to expect from a healthy relationship and how to be safe.”
Carol worked seven years with the Richmond Sheriff’s Department before joining Richmond Police 17 years ago. “As police officers,” she says, “we’re in a unique position to help protect and guide victims of domestic violence to safety. We’ve been trained how to identify the signs and intervene to prevent further escalations.”
CRIME PREVENTION PROGRAMS
She now oversees six staff members in the Community Care Unit that develops and implements crime prevention programs. Carol also shares her personal story of domestic violence with church, student and civic groups locally and nationally to help others avoid the kind of pain she knows so well. “Communication,” she says, “it’s the key to helping others.”
CAROL ADAMS FOUNDATION
In 2013 she founded The Carol Adams Foundation. Its mission: “To provide emergency assistance to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.” On June 20, 2015, the Foundation is sponsoring a fashion show–“Struttin’ 4DV” at the Lipman Auditorium to help empower domestic violence victims and educate the public. (Tickets on eventbrite)
Glamorous Police Sergeant Carol Adams, changing lives and saving some as well.