I see you. I believe you.

sisters

An armed and dangerous man who had Marshfield and Duxbury on lock-down was still at large until moments ago today. You could hear the sirens from your windows and all the local news stations saying: “stay inside and lock your doors.” As a newly single mom of two very young kids, this was one of my first “I’m in this alone now, what do I do (?)” moments—I swiftly locked all doors, brought kids upstairs, and stood paralyzed.

Shootings don’t happen here, we’re in Massachusetts. Things like this don’t happen here—I’ve added this to the lies I repeatedly feed myself.

This man, this active shooter in my and my kids’ proximity was chasing after his soon to be ex-wife in his car as she desperately called the police. She was soon found and later pronounced dead. “A rifle was involved.”

Toxic masculinity. Domestic violence. Blind eyes.

What the “rape awareness” and “me too” movements don’t mention enough is the complex interactions of the root causes and societal impacts of toxic masculinity. What the “gun control” movement doesn’t mention as much as it should is the overwhelming statistic of women traumatized by domestic violence. These two phenomena are not two disparate issues– and they don’t happen in two separate vacuums. They are sown into our society by the same thread. And we’re watching it (continue to) happen. We’ve watched it happen for years—we’ve blamed the victims, behaviors, but not the perpetrators–never the perpetrators. We’ve put band-aids on issues that need life-saving acute surgery—and the status quo marches on.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that nearly 1 in 4 adult women report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Researchers are unsure how many of these incidents result in death and disability due to “gun violence” specifically since we aren’t allowed to study it– or at least the funds to do so [NRA lobbyists do their job (very) well].

One in four women– 25% of the US female population.

This stat doesn’t even mention the 51.1% of female victims reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance in their lifetime. How many of these stats overlap [rape and severe physical assault]? I don’t know. Rape is reportedly the most under-reported crime [63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police].

I don’t know one thing about this woman, her experience, or what went down. I do know that the shooting occurred near a domestic violence shelter. She was reportedly seeking safety from an intimate partner, her former husband. She clearly and rightfully believed that his man who had two towns on alarm along with a massive public-safety man-hunt, wanted to take her life. He did. He succeeded. She didn’t make it out alive.

I spent the night, both in fear of the “news being in my backyard” and tears hoping this woman would survive—hoping she’d have a second chance at life and love. A chance for humanity to believer her, stand with her, offer her stability as she got back on her feet, and watched as she moved forward. This can’t be our reality, a real Disney fairy-tale, to make it through life and love without getting assaulted.

Her name hasn’t been released and when it does, it won’t even be a blip on the news. This is a daily occurrence—happens every damn day. It’s not news.

One report (not specific to gun violence)—states that the costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services.

Enough.

To my own babes: One day you too will watch these happenings unfold with worried hearts.

Teddy, I hope to-all-that-is-good-in-this-world that your Dad and I raise you to do better—be better, to be a part of the solution, to believe and hold these women in love.

Charley, I pray every damn day that you are never one of the four. And if my prayers fail me and you are—I then pray that you find the internal strength to seek out me, your Dad, seek help—and you have someone who believes you and a tribe that embraces you. I will always believe you.

To these women, these survivors, real-world warriors, the ones that are lucky enough to see another day, despite the internal scarring they carry with them for the rest of their lives:

I see you. I believe you. I hold you. I cry with you.

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