Sunday, February 10, 2008

January Just Posts


Once and in the audacity of my youth I provoked a woman's batterer into a rage in order to expose the brutality with which he treated her every night they were in our program once their door were closed. The cops were called regularly and yet did not find evidence to arrest him and she would not admit it (although she did privately to us several times). She was unable to throw him out, fear and shame and isolation and years of abuse rendered her powerless and I was an idealistic and angry young woman who thought she knew so much. One night after hearing him abuse her through the door of their room I knocked on it and he came out. He was clearly angry at being interrupted. I told him I knew what he was doing and that I thought he was a piece of shit. I told him if he wanted to hit someone he should hit me and I'd have no problem pressing charges if he did.

The exchange went on a little longer and more expletives were offered from both sides. Eventually he lunged at me and cracked me a good one, no surprises there. Within seconds some burly men intervened, the cops were called and he was arrested because there was someone now (me) who was happy to press charges and I did. We used the rest of the night to get her and her children into a safe house and we never heard from her again.

Looking back I probably should have been fired, no matter the motive because engaging with him that way was out of line (although, ahem, no one made him hit me, he did that all on his own). But at the time it seemed the thing to do. I am not advocating for this or even proud that was how it went but weeks of children watching their mother terrorized was more than we could take and we were young and angry and fearless and yes, wrong.

I was reminded of this story last week when the CDC released their study citing One in four women and one of seven men experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.....Those who experience intimate partner violence during their lifetime were also more likely to report a range of adverse health conditions and health risk behaviors.

Because it's not just the battering that wounds, it's the effects of living while battered. And to think that 1 in 4 women are still being abused with 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries a year in the US alone makes me physically ill. I have known countless women who've been abused physically, sexually and/or emotionally in their lives, I've witnessed and interrupted men battering a woman on at least a dozen occasions and seen the bruises and heard the stories of hundreds more. I met a woman once who was shot three times in three different states and she still wasn't able to get far enough away. She was an amazing artist, I still have a piece of her work on my wall and yet wonder if he ever managed to finally kill her.

And then I think of the magnificent glory of women. Of how spectacular and heroic women are, how they love and give and birth and raise and so many, one in four in fact, have done all of that while facing some sort of abuse.

While that was a long time ago, 15 years later I can't believe these crimes against women still continue. If you are being mistreated there are places that can help. If you are unsure if something is abuse, just know you should never, ever have to live in fear. It's not always an easy journey, but freedom is on the other side. It can be different than this.

The Just Writers

Alpha Dogma with Happy Period
Andrea with Apocalypse for one
Blue Mountain Mama with I first saw her at a kid's program
Bohemian Creations with The machine
Bohemian Girl with Paraben Free
Carrie with My little philanthropist
Casey at Expectant Waiting with Actually, YOU need to seek help for my PPD
Chani with Midnight in our souls and Retirement of a cultural dissident
Chez Kirby with Taking Chances
The Cleaner Plate Club with My first boss, and what she had in common with a cloned cow…or a mad one
Dave with Words. Tone. Death
DAYSGOBY with Trial and error
Defiant Muse with bratz dolls and string bikinis for toddlers
Elderwoman with why hasn't everybody turned green yet Pt. 1 and Pt. 2
Emily at Wheels on the Bus with Blog for Choice Day
Ewe are here with Just a quick note and Why our next election can't come soon enough for me
Gina with not my god and big bad wolf
Gwen at Woman on the Verge with We real cool and And I Would Walk 5 Thousand Miles
it's not easy being queen with his dream is still my dream
Jen with oh george, how i loathe thee and don't you know i'm talking about a revolution
Jen Lemen with Everything we needed
Jen M with Philanthropy Thursday: Haiti
Jess with one step at a time and beloved
Julie Pippert with my big pink elephant for hump day, When it comes to sexual harassment, it's the little things that bleed you to death and To the Sexual Harassment Google Searchers...
Kevin with Operation Climate Vote Relaunch
Lucy with We do not need rulers, we need rules of law
Mad with Blog for Choice Day
Mouse with Don't Tell Me How to Talk About Sex and The Talk
No Caption Needed with Love in the ruins
No Impact Man with A balanced approach to climate change
Not Hannah with Enough. No more.
Peter with The politics of greed
R World with Secret decoder ring for Bush's state of the union address
Seventh Sister with The last hours of ancient sunlight
Sin at Write About Here with tenuous
Slouching Mom with Wherein I'm dismayed to find that old and young are not always antonyms and What happens to a dream deferred
Snigdhasen with Daughters of the soil
Susanne with stifling the urge to learn
Suzanne Reisman on blogher with Why We Vote with Our Uteruses, Standing Up for Working Women & Child Care Providers, Because "Nobody Really Likes Hair in their Private Regions...", and Victorian Times or Comprehensive Sex Ed: Which Method Do You Choose to Prevent Teen Pregnancy?
Thor with Blog for Choice Day
Uppercase Woman with Take the baby to prison day
Wayfarer Scientista with last native eyak speaker dies and energy & google earth

Belated shower gifts for our volunteerism baby
Christine with December Just Posts: A Baby!
Mary with About the Gorilla in the Living Room
Suz with Late to the Party

Some of the Just Readers
Mary Murtz

We are here every month rounding up social issues and serving them hot. Before you go stop by and see what Mad, Su and Hel have cooked up at their ends of the social justice table. If you haven't sat with us before we'll be back next month and you all are welcome at the table. Join us.


flutter said...

Thank you for you, jen.

blooming desertpea said...

Freedom is on the other side but for all those women who endure domestic violence on a daily basis it feels as if it was millions of miles away ... :(

hele said...

"the magnificent glory of women" - these words made me do a double take.

Strange how strong yet vulnerable people can be,

Velma said...

So many thought-provoking links! Now I know what I'm doing this afternoon!

slouching mom said...

I, for one, am glad you confronted him. In retrospect, anyway. Had I been your mother and known what you were thinking of doing ... well, that would have been a different story.

I must admit to being surprised about the statistic for men (1 in 7). I did not know that.

Thanks, jen, for all that you do.

bubandpie said...

At no time in my life have I ever been that fearless.

furiousBall said...

That was very good, right, and strong of you to confront him. Speaking with my daughter in my thoughts, more of you in this world would be a good thing.

Kyla said...

I just love you, jen, even in the audacity of your youth.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

One in four? That's a terrifying statistic. And for what it's worth, I applaud your audacity. It may have been the wrong way to do it, but you got that woman out of there.

Gwen said...

I love what a kick-ass superhero you are, jen. Love.

Magpie said...

You are something else. In the very best way.

kgirl said...

many women are fortunate that you are so audacious. love love you.
now, on to the long list of important posts to read...

Blog Antagonist said...

That? Was FIERCE. I adore fierce, and I adore you.

Such great reading. You know this, but I love the Just Posts. It really means something.

Suz said...

That's it. You are the bravest person I know.

Janet said...

I kind of love that you did that.

bluemountainmama said...

i'm new here and saw the link to one of my posts. i'm trying to get the jist of the blog, but i love the story and i'll have to check out some of the other links. i love all the girl-power over here! :)

QT said...

Funny how ordinary people can become part of those statistics, isn't it?

Thanks for the monthly reads. :)

meno said...

Looking back, what should you have done instead?

Maybe you shouldn't have, but that was awesome.

Bon said...

much as i too have mellowed and become more cognizant of why risk-taking like yours is an institutional bad idea, i still think you did something worthwhile in at least doing something. and taking the responsibility off her for a moment. i think that was, at heart, the right thing.

i didn't get my list together and i am very, very sorry.

ms chica said...

Sometimes we need to be reminded to look out for the sisterhood.

Thanks jen, you're a great mentor.

thailandchani said...

Great message.. and I don't think you should have been fired. Sometimes it takes what it takes - and the only solution that works is a good azz-kickin'.

Oh, The Joys said...

It's amazing how this has grown, friend. Just amazing and wonderful.

FENICLE said...

Those stat's blew me over. I knew it was a bad problem...just didn't realize though.

Kellan said...

I think what you did for that woman and her children was heroic! I think if more people would step in - intervene - there might be more progress - faster progress. Maybe I am idealistic, but what you did was amazing.

Have a good week Jen - see you soon. Kellan

Julie Pippert said...

What a story.

I have always thought Suzanne Vega had the right of it, as did Natalie Merchant.

And what a list.

Lisa b said...

This is a very powerful story Jen.
Sometimes we have to overstep our bounds. I hope you gave that mom the break she needed.

carrie said...

I love what you did. I could see myself in you - back then, young and without fear of the afterward.

And thank you for including me in a list next to so many wonderful women. It is an honor.

Alpha DogMa said...

Wow. You are fierce. Intentional use of the present tense with that verb, btw.

Thanks for the nod on this list. I'm honoured to be amongst such esteemed bloggers.

cynematic said...

What you did was incredible. I'm floored by your bravery. I hope you bought that woman a little bit of freedom from fear, and maybe gave her and her children a chance to take a step toward a better life. I hope I hope I hope.

New to your blog but just had to pay a reciprocal visit. I like what I'm reading--you've got an incredible community of readers and activists here. How inspiring!


ewe are here said...

Technically, it may have been stupid (because of what could have happened), but you were also incredibly brave to do it. I'm glad it got the woman and her kids out...

Quite a list this month. Quite a list. :-)

PunditMom said...

Man, how I am supposed to read all these great posts! ;)

Lawyer Mama said...

You are my personal superhero, Jen. You have no idea HOW many times I've wanted to do that.