- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

WESTFORD, Mass. (AP) - Jody Marchand refers to this time as “the afterlife.”

Marchand’s life has been split between time before and after a domestic violence incident which claimed the life of her daughter. Marchand survived the attack.

The victim turned survivor, and now activist, reflected on her mission this month as she prepares to host a run and bike ride in honor of her daughter, Olivia, who was killed at 17.

“I went to the farmers’ market just today. I was giving out yard signs and this woman came over and said, ‘Oh my gosh. I knew Olivia,’ ” Marchand said earlier this month. “And it’s just weird. Everyone knew her.”

Marchand has spoken openly about the abusive relationship she had with her husband, Brian Marchand, in a marriage she said was based on him manipulating her.

In February 2010, he fatally shot Olivia and then shot Jody Marchand twice in the face before taking his own life. A short time later, Jody Marchand’s sister helped her form the Live for Liv Foundation, devoted to helping other victims of domestic violence.

Marchand said she only has one thing left over from her former life at this point - an elderly cat named Pepper.

From here, Marchand said her mission will always stay the same. She wants to honor her daughter’s life, but she will work to find ways to move on.

“She would have graduated four years ago, so I’m feeling like, as time goes on, I’ve had to learn this - it’s still about her but my nonprofit… She’ll always be the one that inspired it. Her picture will always be up there (on the website), but I have to move forward.”

Marchand said the sense of loss she feels for her child continues nonetheless.

Not a day goes by where she says she doesn’t wish she could speak with her daughter.

Marchand works to find ways to channel that emotion into a path that will help other victims of domestic violence.

The Ride/Run for Liv event scheduled for Sunday will benefit various groups from around the area through Marchand’s organization. This is the third year Marchand has hosted the event and with 200 people expected to attend, the foundation hopes to raise about $10,000.

The nonprofit so far this year has also partnered with the Hope Boutique, which strives to help victims of abuse in Middlesex County afford the necessities as they move out of a bad living situation.

Marchand said a resource like that could have been helpful in her situation. She said she recognized she was stuck in a dangerous place and wanted to leave, but didn’t have the resources to do so because her husband kept the household bank accounts.

Marchand is now on that new Hope Boutique’s board of directors.

“I said I could afford to get out but it was very difficult. So very often women are in something they don’t even realize,” she said.

“You think, ‘If I do this, it could get better.’ You think you need to be the one to make it better but you can’t even move out because he’s controlling the money.”

Marchand said she is compelled to find new ways to help women in her area who may relate to what she went through.

“I have no choice, I feel like. I feel like, ‘What would I do every day?’ I feel like I have to do something so that my daughter is remembered,” she said, “and hopefully help somebody else.”

Marchand added her message for victims in distress is to recognize their feelings. She says she wants people to know if they’re feeling like something’s “not right,” then it’s just not.

For more information on the July 20 benefit, visit https://www.liveforliv.com/. The Ride/Run for Liv event, at the 4H Fairgrounds at 51 South Chelmsford Road in Westford, includes a 23-mile bike ride at 10 a.m. and a 6-mile bike ride with a 5K at 11 a.m.

The cost for registration ranges from $30 to $35 for adults and $15 to $20 for youth.

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