SELAH, Wash. — It's been three years since Emily Harris was killed by her husband in their Selah home, but she hasn't been forgotten and her legacy is helping other victims of domestic violence survive.
Since then, Brian Harris and his wife, Fran, have used their daughter's story to raise awareness of domestic violence to try and prevent other women from ending up in the same situation Emily was in when her husband took her life on Jan. 24, 2020 — less than 100 yards from the local police station.
Emily's family has also raised more than $400,000 for the Yakima YWCA in her honor, doing anything and everything, from selling licorice, lemonade and #LiveLikeEmily t-shirts, to hosting golf tournaments, concerts and dancing challenges. Her father, Brian Harris, even went to far as to live in a dog cage in the parking lot of his car dealership as a fundraiser.
Now, their family friend Ronda Knight has taken another step toward providing financial support for survivors of intimate partner violence victims and continuing Emily's legacy by publishing, "Live Like Emily, an attitude changing coloring book to inspire you to live your best life."
"The first part of the book talks about Emily and her life and being a small town girl and all the local things she did ... from being a teenager and playing sports to becoming a teacher and mentoring others," Knight said. "She was a mom and she was a daughter and sister and when this happened, everybody was so in shock."
The book shares more about Emily's bright spirit, the principles she stood for and her kindness and positivity. It also reiterates what her friends, family members and colleagues have all said since the day she died: "To know Emily, was to be loved by Emily."
"It lets you know it's okay to love yourself," Knight said. "It says if you don't love yourself, you'll always be chasing after people who don't love you either."
According to the book, a rainbow appeared above a crowd gathered to remember Emily at her celebration of life. It happened again at the first memorial golf tournament in her honor and since then, people from across the country have posted pictures of rainbows on the Live Like Emily page on Facebook, saying "I saw Emily, followed by a description of where they saw her."
Knight goes on to give readers affirmations, positive messages and support, telling everyone what Emily would have wanted them to know.
"She would want you to know you're an amazing person that you deserve better, that you're not alone, that you're worthy," Knight said. "I put a lot in, so people understood that there's help out there for you, that you can be your own superhero."
The book also tells people more about the darkness in Emily's life and the tragic way her life was stolen, far too soon. It includes warning signs of domestic violence for readers who resonate with Emily's story and wonder if they’re being abused by an intimate partner.
"I wanted to let people know you're not by yourself and other women have done it and gotten away and gotten out of that situation," Knight said.
Knight said it's important to her that people understand there's no such thing as a "typical" domestic violence victim and that it can affect anybody, regardless of race, ethnicity, social status or income level, living anywhere in the world.
"Emily was a good example of that; if it can happen to her, it could happen to any one of us," Knight said.
In the back of the book is the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 — just in case.
"Live Like Emily" is available for purchase online here or in-person at Brian Harris Used Cars, 622 S. 1st St. in Selah. People can call the dealership at 509-697-9119 to check if they have the book in stock.
"I was really happy we got it on Amazon and [Harris] makes 60% royalties on that and 100% of that money goes directly to the Emily Harris Memorial Foundation," Knight said. "And, in turn, that goes right to the YWCA to the women's shelter program."
Emily's family, after already raising more than $400,000 in her name for the Yakima YWCA, is hoping to hit $500,000 by the end of the year.
MORE KAPP-KVEW COVERAGE OF THE #LIVELIKEEMILY MOVEMENT:
Emily Goodell joined the KAPP/KVEW team in February 2019.
Emily was born in raised in Yakima, where she currently works as our Yakima Bureau Chief. She’s worked in nearly every journalism medium, but above all else, her passion is investigative reporting. At the Yakima Herald-Republic, Emily worked as a breaking news, city government and crime and courts reporter. She’s served as a city government and education reporter at the Ellensburg Daily Record, a freelance journalist for Yakima Valley Publishing and as Northwest Public Broadcasting’s Yakima Correspondent.
Emily completed a news reporting internship with Spokane Public Radio and an arts and culture reporting internship with The Inlander, an alternative urban weekly in Spokane, Wash.
She also covered censorship and freedom of the press issues facing student media across the nation at the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. Emily graduated from Whitworth University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Mass Communication.
In college, Emily worked with her colleagues and researchers at Florida International University on a collaborative project looking at the experiences of women working as professionals in the communication field. Throughout her high school and college career, Emily competed in speech and debate tournaments at the regional, state and national level.
Emily is an avid traveler. Within the U.S., she’s visited 16 states and the District of Columbia. Outside the country, she’s also been to Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa. While in Durban, South Africa, Emily was more than 10,000 miles away from her hometown — about as far as you can get.