This is the speech I prepared for my class. I fell apart in the middle. I hope I will do better the next time.
Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner, Patricia Giorgio-Fox made a comment last year that found its way into the New York Times. (Here is the link to the article.)
Philly police have changed their response to domestic violence calls, due to an increase in domestic violence homicides:
“… because domestic violence homicide is a crime where there are often warning signs . . .”
She added that 21 of the 35 domestic homicide victims in the study had made a total of 178 calls to the police, and that some of the callers had restraining orders against their killers.
Twenty-one women called the police one hundred seventy-eight times. They are all dead.
As a survivor of domestic violence, this gets my attention.
I call myself a Bag lady
My two little girls and I left our home with two paper grocery bags and the clothes on our backs. They each took a change of clothes, and a favorite toy.
We didn’t leave because I had suddenly become courageous. We left because they begged me to run away from the violence.
“Mommy, we have to leave before he kills you.” They were eight and ten.
What in the world was I thinking? They were frightened. I had allowed myself to become so out of touch with reality that I didn’t even see it. I had not protected my children.
I want to work with battered women, and young women at risk for becoming battered. These young women need to know that abuse is not normal. It is not the elephant in the room in every household.
The abuser wants control. He doesn’t want a quiet, helpful woman. He wants a fight. He wants a conquest. It falls then, to the strong woman, to become his victims.
I believe that with help and guidance, a battered woman can find that strong woman she left behind, and the self-confidence that she has lost.
She needs to be reminded that if she was strong enough to take the abuse, she is strong enough to get away and survive without him.
I want to tell you a story.
A few years go I was at a racetrack in So Cal with my wonderful (new) husband. We thought we were lucky to have a spot on a covered patio, with tables and chairs, which was just past the finish line. We could watch the entire race from our nearly private patio on the second floor of the facility.
The horses were coming out for the next race. They were so beautiful. I love watching them. I noticed one with sort of a pale coloring. What drew my attention to her? Her coat wasn’t shiny like the others. There was something wrong with her.
She didn’t win the race, but she ran her heart out.
She broke down just below our perch on the rail of the patio.
She never made a sound, but her eyes were enormous. It was impossible not to notice how terrified she was. I kept my eyes on hers, wishing her relief from her fear and pain.
I heard cheering and clapping. I looked around. The jockey had gotten up and walked away. They were cheering for the jockey.
He made a choice. The horse did not.
I had seen, and felt, her terror and helplessness. I will never forget those eyes. They have haunted me ever since.
Her name was Summer’s Pride.
Those of us who have been, or are being abused, have given our hearts, and lives, and sometimes our souls, to someone who just gets up and walks away, while we are broken down in the dirt.
Please, if you know someone who needs help, find a way to help.
Offer an alternative. Give her a phone number to call.
Don’t pretend that you don’t know. She knows you know.
Don’t let her break down with no hope.
Violence knows no gender. Anyone can be battered.
She is you. She was me.
She is my daughter, and yours.
Don’t let her become a statistic.