Testimony of Becky Ranes on SB318, Joshua's Law
Good afternoon, Representatives. Thank you for your public service and your leadership in New Hampshire. My name is Becky Ranes.
This is a picture of my only child, my son Joshua. Joshua was 9 years old when he was killed. Five days ago, April 10th, would have been his tenth birthday. Joshua was about to start the 4th grade at the Wilkins Elementary School in Amherst. Joshua loved martial arts, tennis, rock collecting, and so much more. He was my pride and joy. He was a very caring, loving boy. In this picture, you can see why Joshua made everybody smile. I'm here because I am a survivor of domestic violence, but the real reason I am here is that my son, Joshua, is not. He was murdered by his father 8 months ago.
Words cannot express how much I miss him. Today I speak for Joshua and all of the other children in New Hampshire who don’t have a voice.
Co-parenting with Joshua’s father was always difficult, but I never truly recognized how much danger we were in until the day he threatened our lives.
In March, 2012, Joshua’s father threatened me that he had a gun, and he would either kill me, or he would kill Joshua and then himself. I believed him when he said it. I knew he was capable of doing it. And that is exactly what he did on August 11th 2013. And like he said he would, he killed Joshua—shooting him several times—and then committed suicide. He did this during a court-ordered supervised visitation at the YWCA in Manchester.
After we had been threatened, I reported his threats to the police and was granted a domestic violence protective order. At that point, I was given a pamphlet that was put out by Bridges Domestic & Sexual Violence Support Services and learned about Domestic Violence. I saw the "power and control wheel" that illustrates the potential factors of Domestic Violence. I then saw that many of the non-physical elements of this wheel were part of my everyday experience with Joshua’s father.
Because of the threat, the Court ordered supervised visitations for Joshua, supposedly to provide a safe place for Joshua to see his father. The Court also ordered Joshua’s father to attend a Batterer's Intervention Program. In addition to providing a safe home for Joshua, I had no choice but to rely on our criminal justice and child protection laws to keep Joshua safe, and even that was not enough. Even though this bill might not have saved my son’s life, I do feel it will go a long way toward helping other families in crisis.
You don’t have to be beaten or bruised to experience domestic violence. My son and I lived it every day. The attempts to control us were real. The threat to kill us was real. We lived each day with fear. It is so painful and unnerving to watch your child be granted regular access to someone who has threatened to kill him. And despite all of it, Joshua was growing up to be a very happy, generous, always helpful young man. Joshua really liked school and did really well; he earned his Black Belt in Taekwondo and enjoyed his friends and activities. It makes me happy to hear stories from his friends, peers, and teachers about how Joshua touched their lives.
My amazing young son was taken from us in the most violent of ways, and this never should have happened. I want to honor Joshua by helping improve laws that will help other families exposed to domestic violence. No other parent should have to endure losing a child this way.
If our state had a specific crime of domestic violence, Joshua’s father would have been charged with the crime of “domestic violence” instead of “criminal threatening.” As a result, police, prosecutors, and the courts would immediately have had better information about the type of crime that was committed. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between two strangers who get into a fight at a baseball game and an abuser who threatens to kill his child or ex-partner. We know that it is common for domestic violence crimes to escalate, and we must treat these crimes differently than others. My hope is that if what happened to my family makes people take a closer look at how we handle these situations, then something good will come out of this, and Joshua will live on in spirit by helping others who are suffering this silent crime.
Thank you for listening, and I very much hope that you can support this bill, Joshua’s Law, that could have a positive impact on thousands of lives. I respectfully request that I not take any questions at this time.