“How could they do that?!” my panicked voice bellowing at my mother who was seated on the couch behind me. We were watching a made for TV movie about Theresa Saldana, a woman that was stalked and then attacked, in the street while people looked out their windows and did nothing to stop it. “People don’t want to get involved baby” my mother’s voice, soothing and oozing pride that her little girl would be so outraged by such acts of apathetic human behavior. My eyes welled up with tears and I felt a pulling in my chest, “I could never do that. How could anyone do that?” my heart sinking as I watched that poor woman struggle alone with a monster on the street while people closed their curtains, turned a blind eye and locked their doors fearful of both the monster and getting involved.
Walked into my home, me casa, the other evening, the slipping of my key in the lock a jarring reminder that I was on my own for the next day or two. I’ve gotten much better at this being alone business, better at feeling safe and secure in the house full of my aromas and the days worth of untouched dust that seems almost accusatory as I swagger in trying my best to act as if the silence isn’t screaming at me. No sweet faced man there to greet me as I walk through the door. Just untouched newspapers, the empty coffee cup still on the desk, windows closed up tight, the dank encasement of cacophonous aromatics that remind me that I’m not the housekeeper that I ought to be.
I move through evenings like this with stealth like precision, swiping up cups, running the bottom of my work shirt along the dusty surfaces, opening windows, pouring myself a glass of wine, the television and my laptop welcomed distractions keeping me from spending too much time in my own head, remembering when alone was the scariest place to be. Looking across the little patch of grass that separates me casa from my neighbor’s, seeing their lights on, the knowing that as long as they are in there someone is looking out for me, a feeling that keeps me from locking my door and windows as soon as the sun sets. A feeling they don’t even really know but one that lets me fall asleep, like really asleep which is a true gift and assures me once again that I am, if fact a very lucky woman.
“You stupid bitch!” a voice that was capable of turning my insides icy cold and made my heart thump so loud that I would swear it was at the top of my throat trying to leap from my chest in fear. I was walking out of the Dana Branch Library, my tiny son in his stroller drifting off to sleep, the mid afternoon sun blinding me for a second as my head swung around to see from which side the monster, my monster’s voice was coming from. The street was packed with cars, a group of people milled about in front of the restaurant across the street as they waited for a seat, the stream of cars and busses went mute and the whole street went black as my eyes fell upon the figure that was climbing from his red car, his face tight and eyes wild with rage, his rough hands wrapped around an aluminum bat as he slammed the driver’s side door and came charging in my direction.
I let my eyes drop to the stroller, past the bar that I had a death grip on and into the blanket filled carriage that held all my hope and belief in myself, his tiny fingers curled under, his eyes closed and soft little eyebrows scrunched as the sun threatened to disrupt his slumber. In one move I was able to pull one of the Winnie the Pooh blankets over his resting head, turn that safe little cradle around and slip it just inside the library doors turning around just in time to feel the first slam of that bat across the side of my face….
I couldn’t tell you how long this went on, how many times that hollow, cold rod made contact with my flesh, how many times I screamed or cried for help, how long I kept my forearms crossed over my head. It felt like forever and the only weapon I had was to keep my eyes on that library door, see that stroller and know that I had to keep fighting…for him. Didn’t hear another sound until the car door slammed again and he was gone. I was on my knees, face split open and bleeding, broken bits of tooth swimming around in my blood filled mouth but….it wasn’t pain I felt in that second, it was helplessness and embarrassment. Not one person on that busy street did anything to help me as I got to my feet and ran to my son’s stroller. No one even asked if I was okay, maybe because they could see that clearly I was not. I made my way to the Carl’s Jr. across the street to wash my face and spend half an hour locked in a stall holding my sleeping son, wondering just how much more of this I could take part of me hoping that some of the people that had seen what happened had gone. The shame and fear almost more painful than the blows from that bat.
I waited hours to go home that day. Just didn’t want to cause my family any more pain than I already had, spent years covering bruises and lying to avoid breaking their hearts as I fought to keep going and pretend everything was fine. The thing that kept me pushing and trying was their love and support, the knowing they would be there should things get too much to bear, my heart always sinking as I thought about the women that didn’t have that support and love to protect them. Even in the darkest and most terrifying times I knew I would be able to go home and feel safe again, for that I know just how very lucky I was.
Tonight at The Wine Country we are hosting a fundraiser for Su Casa, a foundation committed to ending domestic violence and helping the women and children that escape start over. To say that this particular event means something to me is an embarrassment of an understatement. These people risk their lives to protect others, give their time, money and hearts to the families that turn to them for help and just knowing that gives me a restored hope and faith in people. There are monsters, there are people that will lock their front doors and cross the street when confronted with horrific acts of predatory violence, these people….they aren’t them. I am so proud of our store, of our owner Randy Kemner for continuing to support these selfless and committed people by donating our space, time and wine so that these fearless humans can raise the money they need to continue giving these families the help, support and hope that they need.
To the courageous people at Su Casa there are no words large or powerful enough to truly or properly thank you for what you do. I will gladly donate what I can and just knowing that there are people like you and your team of volunteers out there, well it reminds me that I have nothing to be ashamed of. Reminds me to never give up hope in the human spirit and my belief in people. Your selfless acts shall never go unnoticed as long as there are those of us that can walk a little prouder because of people like you. Thank you….
It is truly an honor to be a member of Randy Kemner’s staff, to work for a man that would never turn a blind eye or close the curtain on someone in need of help. This event is just one more thing for me to love about him. Thank you Randy.
This cause is one that I hold dear to my heart, that I believe in and really does change lives. My scars are all healed, teeth repaired and I can now sleep soundly even when I am alone. I was one of the lucky ones, I’m happy, healthy and safe….ready to put my voice and story up for all to see, willing to put my money where my mouth is to ensure that even one more woman can turn the key on her front door and feel safe when she steps inside.
Survivor of domestic abuse