I was visiting a friend of mine in a “Assisted Living Facility”. She is an able bodied woman who can do a lot of things, but she is forgetful and her 2 strokes have left her footing not what it use to be. After the 6th fall – she decided she needed some help.
well, as I was there she was showing me all the awesome things that were around the complex. She also showed me the bus schedule to EVERY cool place anyone of the 70+ age range would want to go. We eventually ended up at the shuffle boards, it seems the whole place eventually gravitates to this area during sundown. It also helps that the shuffle board area looks out at the Gulf of Mexico…a great place to hang out and watch the sun go down over the water.
One of her friends, Glady, asked me what I did for a living. I explained that I educated people about preventing domestic violence.
Her eyes grew twice their size, then slowly dropped to their normal volume. She sighed and went back to watching the sun. A few minutes later, she touched my arm again and asked what the statistics were now. I explained they were 1 in 4 women would be a victim and 1 in 9 of men would be a victim. She sighed again.
Just as the sun peeped out of existence and people started to wander home, she patted me on the shoulder. She smiled and told me this story written down the best I can remember:
When I was a young gal I helped battered women…my mom as the first person I helped. I told my grandpa what was happening. Grandpa came over with a shotgun, there was a struggle and the next day mom and I patched three holes in the hallway. However, dad was never seen again and mom smiled a lot more. When I was 19 i got a job as a secretary for a hospital. A woman came in with a split lip that needed 5 stitches from a fly ball. This was 1951, there weren’t many women out playing ball those days. She sat down and told me her tale of abuse – I was flabbergasted this happened to more people than just my mom. I told her to call her dad…he’d do something. But she was fatherless. The nurse sewed her up, and she left.
In 1961 I became the first victim advocate, and I opened my house to any woman who needed help. My husband helped, and we built an add on that looked like barracks for people to live. He and I got weapons permits and weapons to match…those men didn’t come around after some buckshot went over their head. Then I got on the women’s lib bandwagon…I even have some of my old buttons. That was the day…we were really doing something.
Now, I hear that this is still going on and the stats are even worse. How sad is that! Then she raised her voice: How long do we have to fight this________ ________ ____________ abuse? (You can fill in the cuss words) I worked to end abuse and maintain women’s rights for decades, and my husband died still at his desk at a women’s shelter as I did an intake form. Up and had a heart attack right then and there.
How long does this have to go on?
When I got done listening to her, I was amazed! her question was very heart felt and a question I have to ask many many times.
In Pinellas County, there are two women who are directors of Domestic Violence centers. they have both spent their years fighting for the rights of women and fighting to keep their centers open. They have held victims hands as the blood ran from their face. they have stood next to victims as their abuser yells and glares at them in a court room. they have lobbied congress, the senate, and the state. They have enacted laws, legislation, and movements that are remembered and used to this day. They, like Glady, were on the lines when women’s rights and VAWA were being decided and discussed. they have made money, they have given money, they have given their voice, and their lives to end domestic violence once and for all.
Both of these ladies began their career working to help victims, create gender equality, and end domestic violence. Now, both of them are close to retirement age, and we are still working towards the same end that Glady was working towards so many years before them.
How long does this have to go on?
How many children have to be taught to act like this?
How many homes must be destroyed?
The real question – How will we, the next generation, change this status quo?