Why leaving didn't stop Karen Smith's husband from killing her in San Bernardino.

On Monday, April 10, Cedric Anderson walked into North Park Elementary School, where he killed his wife, Karen Smith, as well as a student and, ultimately, himself.

A police officer responds to the shooting at North Park Elementary School. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, Smith, a teacher at the school, was in the process of attempting to divorce Anderson when he murdered her.


Outwardly, Anderson was a doting husband — prone to over-the-top declarations of love. His history of domestic violence allegations suggests a darker story.

While it's unclear what exactly transpired between Anderson and Smith before the shooting, her family reports that she was terrified of her husband, refused to talk about their relationship, and even went into hiding at one point.

Anderson (L) and Smith (R). Photos via San Bernardino Police Department via AP.

When relationships turn abusive — or potentially so — friends and family of the victim are often prone to wonder: "Why doesn't he or she simply leave?"

In Smith's case, she did leave. And she was murdered.

"Leaving is not always the immediate safest choice for somebody," says Bryan Pacheco, public relations director for Safe Horizon, an organization that assists victims of relationship and familial abuse.

Frequently, leaving an abusive partner can increase the danger to the victim. One study, which surveyed data from three cities in three English-speaking countries, concluded that women were three times more likely to be murdered by estranged or former husbands than by their current spouses.

"In an attempt to get the victim to stay, abusers will escalate their tactics," Pacheco says. "They’ll escalate the abuse. They’ll escalate the coercion. They’ll escalate the abusive behavior in an attempt to get that person to stay."

To help provide victims with a way out, organizations like Safe Horizon try to mitigate the risks abusive relationships can pose, even when they're nominally over.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Part of what made Anderson such a danger to Smith was his familiarity with her routine: He knew where she worked — and he most likely knew that, as her spouse, he could access her workplace without raising suspicion.

When Safe Horizon makes contact with a victim who wants to break up with an abusive partner, it helps them come up with a safety plan, which entails determining the least risky time to leave — often when the abuser is at work, on vacation, or on a lunch break.

Shelter locations, where victims might temporarily relocate, aren't made public to prevent stalking or worse. A victim who leaves might be placed in a shelter in a different neighborhood or neighboring town to minimize the risk of running into their abuser.

"This is where you sort of understand how difficult it is to leave, because often someone might have to uproot their life for their safety," Pacheco explains.

For friends and family members, it can be heartbreaking not to urge loved ones to leave their abusive partners.

Pointed questioning can cause victims to shut down, as Smith reportedly did with members of her family. Victims might be hesitant to end their relationships for fear of further violence, and individual situations are nuanced and complex.

A bus waits outside of North Park Elementary School. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

The best thing loved ones can do, Pacheco says, is offer unconditional support — and connect them to organizations that have the resources and expertise to assist.

"Use language that they’re using," he explains. "Maybe you notice a physical mark. You can say something like, 'I notice that you have this scar on your arm. What happened?' and sort of determine how comfortable they are speaking to that."

More importantly, friends and family can simply be present when victims are ready to seek aid.

And the most helpful thing?

"It’s really just to believe somebody," Pacheco says.

Fearing disbelief can dissuade victims from leaning on their loved ones for support. It makes it difficult for victims to go to the police to report early warning signs. And, most critically, it can dissuade them from seeking a safe way out.

Simply believing victims could go a long way to making tragedies like Smith's far less common.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.