JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Following the recent domestic related deaths of two mothers in Jacksonville, a survivor of a particularly horrific case of domestic violence is speaking out.
Megan Hiatt’s boyfriend shot her, her twin babies, Hiatt’s father and then killed himself in 2015 in their Jacksonville home. She was the only survivor.
“They lost their lives to domestic violence, and they deserved so much more than what happened to them," Hiatt said.
Ever since then, Hiatt has been an advocate for domestic violence awareness.
"I knew day one I needed to make sure this didn't happen to anyone else," Hiatt said. "When I was on that floor and surrounded by chaos, and that feeling of what just happened in the air, the smell of the air, that chaos, I knew then that no one else needed to go through that."
"I knew then that I was going to live," Hiatt said. "I knew I was, and knowing that I was the only survivor and I was in the hospital, I knew everybody else was gone, and I knew I didn't want anyone else to have to go through what I went through."
Ever since, she has become an advocate. She has spoken at events for Hubbard House, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and a domestic violence committee in Texas where she now lives. She calls it her life's work.
"He never hit me ever," she said. "But, if you look up the definition of physical abuse, there was physical abuse there. He would throw things at me. He'd back me into corners. Things like that, but abuse just isn't physical. It's not just laying your hands on them."
“The breaking point, we don't know when that is. Is it just verbal, emotional and mental? Even sexually? Is that abuse? Is that what's going on right now? But when does the physical start? At some point it starts. For me, it started on November 13, 2015 and that was the last time," Hiatt said.
She continued, “You never know when the breaking point is. You never know when it's going to go from emotional and verbal to mental or to physical. At some point, he's going to have a breaking point where he's going to be physically abusive to you. And then sometimes it's even worse. His breaking point is killing you."
"It saddens me, it really does. It is a worldwide pandemic, domestic violence," she said.
Hiatt urges women and men to look up the criminal history of the people you're talking to before getting into a relationship with them.
“Rush [Hiatt's ex-boyfriend] had three domestic violence charges on his court record. Three. And the last one was in February 2014 and I met him in June 2014. So, if I had known about that resource to go to the Clerk of Court website of Duval County, that would have changed everything," Hiatt said.
She said if you're in an abusive relationship, do everything you can to leave.
“Don’t worry about any items," she said. "Those can be replaced. Your life can't. I was holding on to the physical things, the materialistic things. And we were packing. My dad was helping me pack when Rush got home. If I just left all of that behind, I'd still have my daughters and still have my dad."
Hiatt has had more than 30 surgeries since that day. Her most recent surgery was last week. She said she has had a lot of infections and issues from some of those surgeries.
“I've had staph. I've had cysts growing in between the two incisions. I've had dehiscing, which is where a sealed, an already healed area sort of opens up again. I'm a hot mess," she said.
Hiatt said she's starting to get her strength back. She has to have two more surgeries this year, and said she's trying to stay positive.
"I don't want to be woe is me or pity Megan. That's not me. So, I'd rather, you know, take it as it is and be happy about it and if I'm not happy about it, then I work to make it where I am happy about it. I just don't like being a Negative Nelly," Hiatt said.
Hiatt got married last year. She's currently getting her degree in social work with a minor in criminology and wants to work in domestic violence awareness advocacy.
“I'm just tried to do the best that I can do and just live life and be happy genuinely," she said.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there's free, local help. Quigley House and Hubbard House both have 24/7 crisis hotlines.
- Quigley House's number is 904-284-0061.
- Hubbard House's number is 904-354-3114.