A Family Deals with Healing Through Advocacy and Helping Others


For a local family, the world has never been the same since Feb. 10. On that day, an act of domestic violence resulted in the loss of two family members. On that cold winter night, Shaniel Donaldson was killed by her husband David Donaldson in a murder/suicide.

Since that time, the family has been looking for healing and forgiveness. The community showered the home with hearts and messages of love in the days following the tragedy. Shaniel’s sister Amie Sorensen has carried the message of forgiveness and has become an advocate for warning signs of domestic violence.

Sorensen and her sister were very close with only a year and half age difference between them. Sorensen said she had known from the moment her sister got married there was trouble, but there were no signs of physical abuse.

This message is what Sorensen wants to convey to anyone who will listen. Physical abuse is not the only thing to worry about in domestic violence. Emotional, mental and verbal abuse is just as damaging and dangerous. Donaldson never thought her husband would hurt her. Even as Sorensen worried about her sister, she also never thought she would have to live through what she has.

The family has a Facebook page that they are using to spread the word about domestic violence, educate people on signs to watch for and ways to combat the violence.

The family’s description on the social media page starts with the following: “Four things we wish to accomplish in sharing Shaniel’s story: 1. Provide educational information and resources. 2. Celebrate Shaniel’s life. 3. Share how two families have come together to heal from this tragedy. 4. Have readers share their stories, or someone they know, of surviving domestic abuse or violence.”

The family admits it is painful, but as Sorensen said, “Forgiveness does not excuse their behavior, forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.”

As the entire family works on healing and moving forward, Sorensen is taking an active role in advocacy. She will speak before the Choose to Cherish – Survivors and Advocates 5k run on Saturday Oct 5. Sorensen is also sponsoring a Walk for Shaniel – taking steps to end domestic violence on Saturday Oct. 19 at the Price River Trail on Carbon Avenue. More details regarding this walk are available at https://www.facebook.com/events/1416861878530351/ .

Sorensen explained that no one thinks that this will every happen to them or their family and more awareness can help prevent this from happening to someone else’s sister or mom. It is how this family chooses to heal. Sorensen said that this helps her feel that her sister did not die in vain, but her death is helping  to make sure others can see the signs and get the help needed to make changes necessary to prevent the tragedy her family has gone through.

To follow the online message, visit https://www.facebook.com/Shanielstory

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