Today is White Ribbon Day and a plethora of emotions rise to the surface, as do memories. I recall when I was living in a small town, there was a single mum of three little girls. She had been subjected to much violence, and was now starting again. She owned her own business, and she and the girls were finally happy. Her ex-husband starting drinking more, which fuelled his aggression. He was verbally aggressive on the phone and in person, when she dropped the girls to the designated meeting spot for access visits. This lady was a fey-like creature, huge orbital eyes, tiny with long golden hair, and it would break my heart when she recalled the nights of violence she had endured. He was a mountain of a man. I was at her place when he rang one evening, slurring his words. I heard him promise to shoot her when she dropped the girls off in the car park of a fast-food restaurant. He did indeed own a rifle. She had the hide to start her own business and offer her children safety and security. I insisted that I go in her place. It wasn’t an offer, but an order. She was terrified that if she didn’t obey the court order, he would come after her and the courts would again punish her. I got out of the car with the girls, and he appeared startled to see me. This bear of a man was frightened! I nervously offered forth commentary on the weather, and other inane subjects. I got back in the car and my clenched hands were dripping with sweat.
I have had knocks at my door at night, and my home has offered refuge to mums and their kids. One dear lady came by with her little boys, having caught a bus from her house. She had been shoved and she had been hit. I took photos of her bruises. When she went to the bathroom, her seven-year old whispered to me, “he yells all the time.” I drew him close to me, desperate to vanquish this hell from their precious lives.
I have had women come visiting, and delight in keeping me company for ten hours straight whilst I tended the routine chores of everyday life. They have simply not wanted to go home, fearing what may happen. Imagine getting into trouble for talking to a barista at the café, for not having dinner on the table. Imagine flinching when there is silence, and at the screaming to come. Imagine having to deal with rage, not knowing what shall set it off from one day to the next. Imagine being left without money. This heartbreaking pictorial appeared this morning, and I sat and reflected for a while, both on the sketches and also on the description of the women therein. It is up to us all as a society, to be vigilant and to be vocal. It is my dearest wish that the next generation don’t have to be termed ‘survivors,’ for they won’t have any horror to survive.
Today is White Ribbon Day. I was planning on going to a function today, but instead I am in bed, in agony. I took my daughter to a Katy Perry concert last night, and the only tickets I could get were in General Admission. I stood for several hours, yet it was necessary. This lady leant my daughter the encouragement to find her voice, not only as a singer but as a little girl. I had to take her. There was no option.I am not in agony because of the concert. I am in agony because I was thrown off a building at fifteen. I have known violence. I have a scar running the length of my left index finger. I have never had (nor will I), a knife block in my kitchen. These were weapons, not cooking implements. As a matter of fact, I have no sharp knives.
Today I raise a toast to all the beautiful girls and women I have known. Here’s to those who rapped on my door, children in tow. Here’s to those who bravely let me photograph their bruises and cuts. Here’s to those who released the contents of the fetid garbage they were trying to contain behind closed doors. Here’s to those too ashamed to let anyone know what was going on. I understand. Here’s to those who did. I think of those who tried to defend their abuser, as the truth at that time was too horrible to bear. I commend you on facing the agonizing truth; that he wouldn’t change and you had to leave. I am honoured to have my story told in White Ribbon Writing 2014, under the title, A Scarred Butterfly. This e-book is available from Amazon and all proceeds go to the White Ribbon Foundation. I am so proud of the White Ribbon Foundation. Their sponsors, Suzanne Grae, dressed me for my book launch, an ambassador spoke with heartfelt passion in front of the guests, and more people are taking the pledge to stamp out violence against women each day. There is no more hiding. No more excuses. It has to stop, and we are the one’s to do it.
After a concentrated, delightful weekend, I faced a weird day. One of those days when you feel out of sorts. I got home from pickup, the most pressing feature being getting feeling back through the right side of my body. A hot bath then voltage via my Tens machine! Yes! A missed call from my beautiful publicist, saying that Radio National wanted to interview me for White Ribbon Day. Oh my goodness! I called her back and she said I was to be interviewed live at 5.15pm! I felt a weight of responsibility on my shoulders. My little girl was excited and declared she would hold my hand throughout the interview. What a price to pay. It is a daily price. The pain never fades, in any respect. I am not doing any of this for me. I could have written children’s books from the start! I am whimsical and it is what I relish. I am ill-prepared for my story. It is ill-prepared for me.
My daughter is on her headphones, listening to Katy Perry, and singing her lungs out. We are cool! I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I am so sorry, so very sorry, for all those that didn’t survive. I am hoping to lead the way for all those that did and wonders what happens next. I am so glad I am here. I understand those that couldn’t hang on. At the end, there is nothing but love. It is hard to rebuild a life. I am still constructing, but after the violence ends, there is nothing but joy throughout the whole process. I am thinking of all who have been told they were nothing, have been abused in any manner possible this White Ribbon Day. Believe me, you are everything. xxx