Learn Before It Happens with Bill Mitchell of The When Dating Hurts Podcast


Have you ever heard a story and said that couldn’t happen to me?

As a culture, we love shows like Law and Order, Criminal Minds, NCIS, but we typically live our lives every day that can’t happen in real life. Today’s guest Bill Mitchel shares his story about the murder of his daughter following her graduation from college.  He has taken this tragedy and made it his message to help give others the tools, resources, and support to be aware of before it happens.

He never expected his family to change in such a drastic way that would redefine it forever.  You don’t ever fully move past the loss of a child, let alone when they are murdered.

Book – When Dating Hurts by Bill Mitchell

Key Topics:
  • How losing his daughter changed everything (1:11)
  • Dating Violence and how common is it (4:49)
  • How do you compelling someone to listen before it happens (7:54)
  • What made podcasting the right next step (9:44)
  • What problems did you have to get a podcast started (11:36)
  • What goal did you think podcasting could do that a book can’t (14:40)
  • How do you protect someone’s story that might not be ready to be named (16:29)
  • What advice do you have for parents before tragedy might strike (18:00)
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00:00:00.000 – Speaker 1
Hi and welcome to Cause Bad. I’m your host, Matthew Passy, here at Cause Pods. We have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better place, whether it’s in their own local community or they’re taking on global issues. Please visit us at Cause pods. Org, where you can learn about our guest show, their favorite charitable cause. Join our Facebook or with resources for Cause based podcasters and find a link where you yourself could be a guest here on Cause Pods.

00:00:33.930 – Speaker 3

00:00:34.240 – Speaker 1
That’s all at Cause Pods.

00:00:39.260 – Speaker 2
All right, everyone, we are taking you down to the suburbs of DC, over in Maryland. We are chatting with Bill Mitchell. He is the host and the creator of When Dating Hurts, the podcast. And so so much more. Bill, thank you for joining us here on Cos POS today.

00:00:56.510 – Speaker 3
Thank you, Mathew. It’s good to join you.

00:00:58.350 – Speaker 2
So, Bill, you do this podcast. You’ve authored a book. You talk about dating violence and what we’ll get into a little bit more about it. But this is a very personal subject for you. And I’m wondering if you could share with our audience what sent you down this road of talking about this kind of subject matter.

00:01:15.860 – Speaker 3
Mathew, back in 2005, we had what most people would look at and say, Well, you guys are really doing it right. You’re happily married. You have two kids. You have a daughter who is about to graduate from College. You have a son five years away from graduating from high school. So it’s kind of the million dollar family in a lot of ways. And then along comes May 14. We went to my daughter’s graduation from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. And that was the first time we met her boyfriend, who my immediate reaction to him, an immediate from shaking hands, was kind of like, I don’t know about this guy.

00:02:02.040 – Speaker 3
I’d hate to tangle with this guy, which is a very strange reaction I don’t normally go to like and dislike immediately, but this was almost more like fear. So we met him that day and 20 days later, 20 days after that graduation, of meeting him for the first time and seeing her for the last time, 20 days after that graduation on June 3, 2005, he murdered her in her apartment. So that sent us down that path. I don’t have to go into too much depth about how much of a shock that is, but it it changes your life completely.

00:02:36.220 – Speaker 3
And obviously you’ll never get back what you had. So it’s the pain. It’s the loss. It’s the grief, which is just as strong today, 16 years later as it was back then. But anyway, once we helped to get him into prison as much as parents can, working with prosecutors and all those folks over the next ten or twelve months, then it was like, okay, where do we go from here? And one thing we found strengthen was to give speeches. And so I’ve given well over 100 speeches over the course of time, then had the idea about six years ago now to maybe write some articles and put them online, maybe on LinkedIn places like that.

00:03:20.980 – Speaker 3
And the response was good. And then that made me start thinking about maybe I should just stop writing articles and just write the book, which I did, which is called When Dating Hurts. So that took a long time. My first book self published a whole lot of work. And that came out about a year ago. And then the beginning of this year, 2021. I started to put out the podcast series, which is also called When Dating Hertz. So that’s a big snapshot. But that’s a snapshot of what I’ve been doing and why I’m doing it.

00:03:56.200 – Speaker 2
Well, first of all, I know you said it’s been 16 years, but still, we’re very, very sorry to hear about your loss. And for that kind of, any parents or any family have to go through that trauma is very, very hard. Some of you, even to this point, still have our deepest condolences having gone through something like that, you know, you start to speak on it, you start to talk on it. I assume you are doing more research and talking to more experts. How prolific is dating violence in this country?

00:04:28.890 – Speaker 2
I think when people think of things like sexual assaults and rapes, they tend to believe it’s a stranger or with the me, Too movement, it’s often powerful people praying on the week. But this sounds like two peers almost and something goes terribly arise. So how common? How prolific is that around here?

00:04:52.620 – Speaker 3
Well, like, probably a lot of people listening in. I couldn’t fill up a symbol with everything I knew about dating violence. I hadn’t even heard the term before. And domestic violence. I couldn’t fill up another symbol with that. I mean, to me, domestic violence was off the top of my head, the stereotypical cliche, which is I guess it’s some people who’ve been married for a while don’t get along, and the guy comes home and roughs up his wife from time to time, and somehow they get past it.

00:05:26.640 – Speaker 3
And they just have this bad marriage. That’s what I thought domestic violence was. And maybe also with people not married. That’s about it. I mean, that wouldn’t fill up any symbol. So. So I have to wonder, we’re like, what the heck is going on here? And how do you get to the point where you kill somebody? How do you stab somebody to death, which is what happened to my daughter. So I kind of launched myself into finding out what this is all about and didn’t really have anything in mind at first, other than just understanding.

00:05:57.120 – Speaker 3
But I came across this one. Fact is the only fact I ever really use anymore, because numbers and statistics usually glaze people over. But one in three women will suffer serious physical violence in an intimate partner relationship at some point in their lifetime. That’s a lot of people one and three. And it typically happens between the ages of 16 and 24, but could happen to any woman in any age, which means younger than that. And I’ve spoken with people in their Sixties who were still on the receiving end of violence.

00:06:30.580 – Speaker 3
So the prevalence is amazing. Once I got past a little bit of understanding about it, any disbelief I had because I thought it was very uncommon, and it’s not as uncommon as you would think. But that led me down the path of thinking, well, what could my daughter have known or what could her friends have known? Who knew this guy? What could they have known so that maybe they would have stopped her in their tracks with this guy? You know, what kind of warning signs or red flags and that type of thing?

00:07:05.760 – Speaker 3
So I really launched myself into finding out more and more about those things and then created a list with so many of the people that we talk to on the show.

00:07:16.180 – Speaker 2
We do a lot of cause based episodes. We talk to people about health issues, social issues, and a lot of the times. Not a lot of people are going to check out a podcast about cancer until it affects them. And yet so many of these podcasts would be more useful to people ahead of time.

00:07:38.270 – Speaker 3

00:07:38.980 – Speaker 2
And again, my sense is with your book, your podcast, your content, that that would be the case, too. So how is it that you go about convincing people to listen to your content now, when they don’t think dating violence is anywhere on their radar?

00:07:57.380 – Speaker 3
That’s a great question. That’s a brilliant question. Thank you. Well, the way I do it is, at least with the book was to give a story to people that they could get caught up in. And that means that you have to have a good story, which in this case is a true story. But you have to have a good story that people stop in their tracks and feel compelled to follow. So it takes a good story. But it also has to be a story where they can see themselves in it.

00:08:23.960 – Speaker 3
They see their own family, they see their daughters in it. They see a niece in it, they see a coworker in it. And so it’s like a great Church sermon. It’s like the ones that you remember. The ones you stay with are the ones where there’s maybe a storyline that you think. Wow. I want to see where this goes. Everybody be quiet. I want to listen to this guy. The book was written that way, too. The book is written with what I call the energy of a novel to get you in and keep you in.

00:08:55.360 – Speaker 3
This book is 320 pages most people read it in two or three days, and it’s a book. It’s a book. It’s not like there’s just 20 words on a page. It’s a real book. So I want to get your attention. I want to keep it. And while we’re going along, then I can explain. Here are the things that she missed. So that next time they look at their own kids, they’re thinking, you’re precious to me. I care about you. And I need to learn about what this guy is talking about here.

00:09:24.180 – Speaker 3
So that’s really how I kind of wrote them in and compel them to stick with the story. But you have to reward them with with good, interesting writing, but also then bring the goods, which is, of course, the advice that the book has. So.

00:09:39.710 – Speaker 2
Like you said, you’re out there giving these talks, giving these speeches, you’ve written the book, you’re raising awareness. What made you stop and think I need to transform this into podcast content?

00:09:54.510 – Speaker 3
Yes. Good question. So what happened was that once the book was out, then the only thing I was doing Besides speeches now and then was to keep pushing the book and pushing the book. And I thought about the podcast for a lot of reasons. One is that I felt it would be, of course, much more immediate, something I could record one day, edit the next day and put on the air the next day if I could learn all the parts of doing that, which I started with zero except some ability to edit.

00:10:26.400 – Speaker 3
So I felt like, wow, you know, I’ve met over the years at that point, 15 years, I’ve met so many people that I felt were experts in this field who spoke well and could I could bounce questions off them, get great answers, and that people again would be compelled to listen once they got the beginning of it, they stay with it as an example. My latest one, which I just uploaded yesterday, is with a male survivor. I recorded it last week, and I’ll tell you, I mean, I was like jittery listening to this guy as he took us through a bad marriage is putting it lightly, but just I mean, he was completely open and honest and took me through every last thing.

00:11:10.940 – Speaker 3
So it was the immediacy of it. It was the fact that I could find somebody on Monday, record them Tuesday or Wednesday and have it uploaded as fast as I could edit it, clean it up and put it out there. I just had to learn at all. I just have to learn the bits and pieces of it. But my motivation, my passion for it was all there.

00:11:29.860 – Speaker 2
So as someone who is doing it all on his own, who had to learn how to do this all on your own, what were some of the biggest hurdles and challenges?

00:11:39.140 – Speaker 3
Well, it’s like, in a lot of ways, it’s much like creating the book which I self published. It’s intimidating to have to face all the technical stuff that goes into that. Now I my career was in the advertising business. I was a creative guy, so I’ve been around a lot of those things, but some of this was really, very, very new to me. So it’s intimidating. You know, it’s like literally what microphone and what kind of headphones may be, and then what platforms do I record it on?

00:12:13.540 – Speaker 3
And then where do I upload it when I get it finished? And how can I get a dashboard that tells me how many plays I’ve gotten all those things, and I just had to big borrow and steal the information, mostly just looking things up and watching a lot of YouTube videos and things like that. But again, much like the book I created the cover myself. I wrote it myself. I had someone help me edit it, but there’s just a lot of management of it and just trying to imagine how it goes from my computer, whether it’s the book or the podcast has to go from my computer to where it needs to get all in one piece and it looks or sounds good depending on which one it was.

00:12:55.990 – Speaker 3
But Besides that getting guests, it’s an ongoing project lining up people. I write the questions. Of course I do the edit, I do the promotion, but I think the thing is with me, as I’m fortunate, because I have the passion for it, and I feel like people probably rightfully so trust me along the way. They know where I came from. I’m not some guy says, oh, look, here’s a cause, and I bet I can sell books and do podcasts. And somebody who just kind of introduce themselves into something that’s existing out there.

00:13:38.060 – Speaker 3
I didn’t volunteer for this job, so to speak. You know, it came to me by way of a Detective on a dark and rainy night, literally. But I’m just really trying to take whatever talent I have passion I have and abilities I have and save someone else’s daughter. I mean, I only had one, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job in that area.

00:13:58.350 – Speaker 2
We always say that it’s much easier, much more productive and more successful. If you have a passion, have a cause and realize that this is the right medium for that message, as opposed to saying I really want to have a podcast, but I don’t know what to do it about. So I’m glad to hear you say that that, you know, it’s a lot easier for yourself knowing that you have this drive, and this is just another delivery tool for what it is that you want to do.

00:14:29.620 – Speaker 2
I’m curious what has been the response, or has there been any different experiences? Feedback, like different connections that you made as a result of the podcast that you weren’t making, doing the book and the talking and the speeches or that you think only could have come from having a podcast.

00:14:49.920 – Speaker 3
Wow. I never thought of it that way. I would have to say since one followed the other. The book made it easier for the podcast to happen and for me to get guests. I don’t think there’s anybody I’ve asked so far who has turned me down thus far. Now I’m only 20 episodes into it. So it’s not like hundreds, right? But I’ve never been turned down yet. I should say this. I haven’t been turned down. I’ve been asked by some people if I would just wait a bit.

00:15:20.430 – Speaker 3
They want to do it, but they can’t do it right now. Now, that might be somebody who is in a horrible marriage and they want to let time pass or they’re still in the midst of divorce proceedings. And I have had people say, I’m still afraid of this guy. So give me time. Sometimes I’ll have people come on anonymously and just come up with a name, that type of thing I’ve done that, I guess. All Things Considered, I don’t think that the hurdles are a whole lot bigger with the podcast.

00:15:52.000 – Speaker 3
I think it’s probably in a lot of ways easier to get people. All things considered, I guess.

00:15:58.990 – Speaker 2
Because you are dealing with such a what could be a very sensitive issue topic for so many people. And like you said, you mentioned, some folks you’re talking to are still in that situation, right? They’re still married, living with them, whatever they’re afraid. How do you one get people to open up who might be worried about what they’re saying, being so public out there in the Ethos and what have you done? I know you said changing there or anything else that you’re doing to kind of protect them as you are getting them to open up.

00:16:34.520 – Speaker 3
The one thing that I’ve had some people do is tell me someone else’s story, you know, have a counselor tell someone’s story for them that’s made it a lot safer. But honestly, at this point, changing the name is probably about the most I can do. I mean, I didn’t want to do one of these bizarre things where you buzz their voice or something like that, an audio version of a silhouette against a curtain or something. You know, something like that. But I have to say that. I mean, there is a very high element of danger when you’re talking with somebody who has been abused in a lot of the ways.

00:17:10.340 – Speaker 3
The one thing you can be sure about is that once there is a relationship that has abuse in it, it will happen more and more frequently, and it’ll happen in stronger, more horrible ways. So it’ll always want to escalate that’s just about a guarantee that that’ll happen. It’ll just get worse and worse. The abuser. Once they see that they’re successful and one way or another, get away with it, they will just bring it more often and bring it harder.

00:17:41.170 – Speaker 2
I have two young children. I know you said that violence doesn’t just happen in one direction. It can happen in either direction. But hearing you talk about this right now, my initial thought is, well, you two are never dating anybody, ever.

00:17:55.520 – Speaker 3
It’s a good idea there. I recommend that.

00:17:58.570 – Speaker 2
Is there other ways that parents can protect their children without putting them in a bubble or keeping them locked up at home?

00:18:08.220 – Speaker 3
Well, the first thing I would say to anybody is that whatever level of communication you have with your kids, try to have more of it, you know, just kind of have all kinds of conversations. You don’t want them to be confrontational. You don’t want every time you’re in the car with them for them to think, oh, here it comes. The prosecutors moving in on me, blowing cigar smoke in my face and putting on a hot lamp. That’s not going to get you anywhere, because then, of course, they’re just going to figure out ways not to talk to you.

00:18:38.050 – Speaker 3
So you want the conversations, the communication to be as open as possible. The other thing is that you want to be friends with their friends. That one’s really important, because if your child is in a relationship, if your child seriously, like 12, 13, 14 on up and they’re in a relationship, they’re going to pick and choose how much about that you’re going to know about, including you may not know anything, but if their friends come over, you know, you have them come over, try to have a nice relationship and maybe find moments there where you talk with your kids and their friends about what’s going on, and people seem to be liking people at school you can talk about.

00:19:26.200 – Speaker 3
So who likes who? What’s going on? One of my podcast is with a career law professional. His name is Dave Thomas, and I off the top of my head don’t remember what episode number that is, but again, there’s only 20 Max. But Dave Thomas gives a lot of good advice on there about getting closer to what’s going on with your kids. So that’s huge and then get a hold of good information. Whether you Google it about dating violence or you pick up the When Dating Hurts book or listen to some of the podcast.

00:20:01.520 – Speaker 3
But get a hold of some of the information and some of the advice that I give out because I’ve gathered it from hundreds of people over now 1516 years. And it’s really the type of thing that once you catch on to what’s going on in these relationships, you don’t have to be all that smart to pick up on it. It’s the parents that don’t know the first thing about it that have all these clues and warning signs going past their ears that they just don’t catch.

00:20:29.930 – Speaker 3
I mean, they don’t get it should probably also say that the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship all fall under one big umbrella, which is power and control one person’s power and control dominant behavior over another person. So when two people are dating, let’s just say, and one person is extremely jealous or possessive. That’s a warning sign. That doesn’t mean this is dating violence. It’s just one of those things that go, oh, okay. We got that going on. Or somebody’s controlling another person by constantly putting them down all the time.

00:21:05.120 – Speaker 3
Or maybe a big one is that somebody’s dating somebody could be the male doing could be the female doing it to the male. There’s plenty of that, too, where that person tries to isolate the other person from all of their established friends or even some of their family members, things like that. This happened to my daughter at the age of 21 when she was dating this guy who eventually killed her. But somebody who just is kind of like taking over another person. When you start to detect that’s what’s going on, then your ears should really pick up.

00:21:42.180 – Speaker 3
And and if you know some of the warning signs, at least you say, okay, we got one of those relationships, and then you take it from there, which take it from there usually means call a domestic violence hotline and get more information and say, Look, I think my daughter’s in one of those relationships where my son is one way or another, but then you can at least you spotted it. But I’ll tell you, it’ll just slide right past you. If you don’t believe this can happen in your family.

00:22:11.560 – Speaker 3
I mean, I never thought about this type of stuff. My wife didn’t, and we got a full course of it the first night. So I hate to tell horror stories, but, I mean, I think that you can learn from us and you can do a better job of helping your kids and their friends and your other family members.

00:22:29.780 – Speaker 2
If you’re hearing this and at this point, you should have been hearing this. The website is When Dating Hurts. Com. The episode that Bill reference with Dave Thomas is episode twelve. So we’ll have links to the website. We’ll have links to the show on Apple, Google Spotify, right. All the places where you can find your podcast. Also, we’re going to have a link to the book directly. So if you want to get a copy of the book, we’ll put a link right here in the show notes so you can pick up the book When Dating Hurts, and usually when we bring guests on to Corresponds, we have them talk about a cause they want to raise awareness and raise attention to.

00:23:11.540 – Speaker 2
In this case, all of that is right there on When Dating Hurts. Com, right. They can donate directly, Bill, and support your efforts to raise awareness and get more books in the hands of parents and people who need to read it.

00:23:27.120 – Speaker 3
Yes. Yes, they can do just about everything. There the other thing that I don’t have on the website is that at this time on my podcast, when I go to what would normally be a place to sponsor would be right now, I kind of go to myself. I kind of go to my own little commercial. One of them will be about get the book and then the one at the end gets in to listen to more of these podcast episodes. I don’t have a real sponsor per se, a paying sponsor per se.

00:23:57.670 – Speaker 3
And I’d love to have one or more, but of course, it’s important that they match the spirit and the subject matter of what I’m talking about. I mean, I can’t have a gas station in there. That’s not going to make a lot of sense for candy store, but I’d love to have sponsors that sponsor and maybe every 100 episodes, they give me something and then I can take that. And I can do more because it does. As you well know. Mathew, you do have to buy your microphone and you do have to upgrade your computer and do different things like that.

00:24:31.490 – Speaker 3
So. So it does help the calls, which eventually helps our children.

00:24:37.020 – Speaker 2
Well, if you are hearing this and this is really having an impact on you and you want to do more to help again, check out when dating Hertz dot com connect with Bill. You can donate sponsor support, whatever it is, get a copy of the book. But a very, very serious topic and unfortunately, one that most people won’t think about myself didn’t think about until either you hear a horror story like this or you are personally impacted by it. So now is a better time to start, you know, understanding this then before it’s too late again, it’s when dating hurts.

00:25:17.370 – Speaker 2
Com and go directly to the website. Or we’ll have links in the show notes and at calls Pods or for you to follow listening Connect with Bill. Bill Mitchell, thank you so much for joining us here on Caspo today.

00:25:28.280 – Speaker 3
Thank you, Mathew. You’re doing great things with this whole Cause Pods effort. I really appreciate it and I want to listen to more reviewers comes up for you and all your staff. You’re doing a great job. Brilliant.

00:25:39.890 – Speaker 2
Thank you.

00:25:41.290 – Speaker 1
Thanks for listening to this episode of Cause Pods. If you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes to this episode in your podcasting app or at Cause pods. Org. There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast links on Apple, Google Spotify as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here in this episode. You will also find at Cause pods. Org a way to subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app. How to sign up to be a guest on this show and a link to our Facebook group, which is gonna have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause.

00:26:18.450 – Speaker 1
And I can tell you right now, we’ve got one great deal from our friends at Pod page, but you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for Cause Pods and before I go, I should say thank you. In particular, the show is edited and produced by Ben Killo of the Military Veteran Dad Podcast. And what a great job he is done and all this is made possible because of the great support that I received from Shannon Rohos here at the Podcast Consultant.

00:26:43.760 – Speaker 1
Com. Once again, if you want to learn more, go to Cosponsor. Thank you so much and we will see you next time on Cause pods.

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