Mother who survived attack wants public to know about progression of domestic violence

Mariah Clare was shot in the attack that killed 11-month-old daughter, landed 2-year-old daughter in hospital

SAN ANTONIO – In a courageous and heartbreaking interview, mother Mariah Clare spoke to KSAT from her hospital bed. She is recovering from an attack last week that killed her 11-month-old daughter, Willow, and left her and her 2-year-old, Rosalie, in the hospital.

Her ex-husband, Stephen Clare, is the accused attacker.

“I was shot six times, an entire revolver worth of bullets into my body,” Mariah said.

The 28-year-old mother has lived through the unspeakable.

As she heals from the wounds in her jaw, neck, abdomen and leg, she is also grieving the loss of her baby and praying for her 2-year-old, who is still in the ICU.

Rosalie has serious injuries but is expected to survive.

“I have no home because I can’t go back to the one I was in. Now I get to pick up the pieces,” Mariah said through tears.

For Mariah, picking up the pieces involves telling her painful story. She said it started long before the April 10 shooting.

“He’s always been very controlling and very manipulative,” she said of her ex-husband.

Experts explain that non-physical actions like gaslighting and verbal and emotional abuse are legitimate forms of domestic violence.

“It could be them just intimidating that person, making them feel very fearful. A lot of times, there’s that whole manipulation that’s going on to make them feel like, ‘Maybe I did something to deserve that. Did that really happen to me?’” said Rosanne Pizano, the high risk coordinator for the Bexar County Family Justice Center.

The Bexar County Family Justice Center is an all-encompassing hub for domestic violence victims, offering casework, counseling, legal help and child services.

Every client is assessed for their level of abuse risk, and that level is not just about physical violence.

“There are questions like, ‘Has there ever been a firearm used? Has there ever been any sexual assault? Were you pregnant during the time of the assault? Do you have children together?’” Pizano said.

In addition to the speed of the abuse progression, those factors can eventually land victims with a gut-wrenching inclination.

“Three weeks ago, I was talking to a friend, and I was telling that friend, ‘One day, that man is going to kill me. He’s going to kill me,’” Mariah said.

It’s something Pizano hears surprisingly often.

“It’s a storm that could potentially happen at any point, but it’s just being able to give them the voice, how to validate their experiences and let them know that there’s definitely resources that are available,” she said.

Pizano describes it as a moving train that victims can try to get off of at any point. The hope is that it’s earlier than later.

“Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel safe, it isn’t,” she said.

Through searing grief, Mariah felt obligated to remind victims that those subtle forms of abuse can escalate, and she hopes they’ll be brave enough to get help before it’s too late.

“I want justice for my kids. This can’t happen to people,” she said.

Stephen Clare, 50, is still in jail with two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and capital murder of a person under the age of 10.

His bond is set at $2 million.

If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic abuse, there is a long list of resources on the KSAT Domestic Violence page.

You can reach the Bexar County Family Justice Center at (210) 631-0100 or on their website.

The Family Violence Prevention Services which runs the shelter and also offers wrap-around services can be reached at (210) 733-8810 or on their website.

The national Domestic Violence Hotline number is (800) 799-7233 and they have people available to chat live on their website.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.