Cats and raindrops bless us

Sherman Alexie said “I don’t believe in magic, but I believe in interpreting coincidence exactly the way you want to.”

So when a stray cat wandered into the circle of grief-stricken neighbors gathered outside the former home of Rachel Gardin-Gonzalez and made itself right at home, I chose to imagine that Rachel was back in this beautiful calm form to bask in the comfort and love of people who cared about her.

Rachel and her mother Kimberly Redford were murdered in this home last week. Interfaith Works had come here to hold a Moment of Blessing. A time for neighbors to reclaim peace in their community and love in their hearts for the entire family that was devastated here.

Seven years almost to the day, I wrote my very first post on Can You Relate about a Moment of Blessing for Vanda Boone who herself was murdered in south Thurston County.

Every single domestic violence fatality and injury and hurt is preventable. Without exception. So I wonder, now and all the time, about what it will take to end the violence.

Can You Relate has changed its focus recently to call out/call in the perpetrators of the violence. Ultimately it is they who control all these tragic outcomes. I know it’s hard to imagine, but rapists and batterers are the ones who need to understand what drives the violence and understand what it is going to take to stop it. We can provide all the support and care possible for victims (and we should) but they will just keep coming until we know this.

Unlike Sherman Alexie, I don’t know if I believe in magic. But as the circle of grief was breaking up today, a few drops of rain fell from the hot smoky sky. Was that raindrop blessing a bit of magic or just a coincidence? We’ll have to ask the cat.

The ribbon pole with the names of most of the people who have died from violence in Thurston County since 2005. With the magic cat in the background.
Tragic additions to the list of victims.

 

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

Is My Job Forcing Me To Tell A Happy Story About Rape? “…The pressure comes from our sound-bite society. Domestic violence is complicated, and we often have to make it less complicated if we want to get people interested in our work.”

‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer “In promoting the surgery, doctors cite studies that suggest breast reconstruction improves a woman’s quality of life after cancer. But some women say that doctors focus too much on physical appearance, and not enough on the toll prolonged reconstructive procedures take on their bodies and their psyches.”

This Anti–Lean In Pioneer Is Teaching Men How to Behave in the Workplace “I am teaching men to actively work to end patriarchy,” she says. “The point is to eliminate privilege and my approach is, hey, you believe that this is the right thing to do.”

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

Have you ever wondered how much energy you put in to avoid being assaulted? It may shock you “It’s not just the overt approaches from men … it’s that women are routinely pulled out of their own thoughts in order to evaluate their environment. They are less free to think about the things they want to think about because of the extra effort they have to put in to feel safe.”

This Oregon Politician Should Probably Just Not Weigh In On Domestic Violence “Bud Pierce… may have torpedoed his campaign last week by claiming, in the middle of a live-streamed debate, that women with a “great education and training and a great job” aren’t susceptible to domestic violence.”

Look At These Incredible Pictures Of Women Protesting For Abortion Rights “Thousands of women took to the streets of Poland on #BlackMonday to protest against a draft law that would limit access to legal abortions.”

Fire Drill

I am going to interrupt the first paragraph of this blog to tell you the aftermath of writing it. This is simple too ironically delicious to pass up.

Go to Google images and search “Fire Drill 1960s.” I mean, really.

I went looking for a good picture idea to illustrate a story of growing up in the 1960s and doing fire drills at my little rural school. A story I don’t need to tell you now.

What I found was NOT a fire drill 1960s style, but rather an atomic bomb drill 1960s style.

duck-and-coverWhat tickled me so much about these pictures of children huddling under their desks (which, by the way I did not experience as funny at the time) is that how we prepare our children these days for the actual threats they face is very much like this google-search-gone-sideways result: we are leaving our children huddled under their desks when the real problem is that the building is on fire.

I thought of a couple stories to illustrate how we can use the notion of the fire drill to practice things with our beloved kids before it is an actual emergency. And to show how weirdly odd we grownups behave in the face of actual emergencies.

Fire drill: unintended pregnancy

I once asked a young woman friend of mine who was headed off to college what kind of birth control she was using or thinking about using. She’d had a serious boyfriend in recent months and I was thinking they were likely sexually active so I was just curious. She looked at me with a stricken look on her face and didn’t say anything for a long moment. Then she blurted out, “I’m not opposed to abortion.”

“Um, sweetie” I replied “you know there are ways to avoid getting pregnant if you don’t want to be right?”  And the conversation unfolded from there.

We grownups waste unimaginable quantities of energy and money arguing about whether abortion should be illegal or legal. Available or unavailable. In the meantime this is the stupidity our children are saddled with. By losing our focus on what is actually happening with our kids, we outright deprive them of meaningful access to the information they need. Metaphorically, we leave our teens huddled under their desks. Come on. We can do better than this.

Another time, some friends and I were talking about Plan B (the emergency contraceptive) when their teenaged son walked in. It struck me suddenly that teenagers may not even have any idea what the concept of a plan B is. I mean, do you? Plan A is we meet at the corner to walk together to lunch. Plan B, we meet at the restaurant and I’ll save us a table. Right?

No surprise, the young man didn’t have any idea what plan A and plan B meant. But then, poor thing, I subjected him to some questions about the contraceptive Plan B. What followed was a wildly entertaining conversation which I will leave for another time.

Back to Plan B which is, after all, the fallback. It is not the first line of action for young heterosexual sexually-active people. And yet we adults leave our children huddled under their desks while we argue about regulating the actual drug of Plan B–in fact, all the way to the Supreme Court. The building is on fire people. Grownups get your act together and help kids with Plan A for sexual health and wellbeing, contraceptive and otherwise!

Fire drill: gun violence

I don’t own a gun, but I got a free gun lock at a recent event and gave it to a friend of mine who has school-aged kids. She doesn’t have guns either, but we gabbed about if and how she asks about guns when her kids go to play in their friends’ homes. She said she has struggled with this in a mighty way but has not yet figured out how to ask. It is just so hard to talk about it.

And this is completely understandable. We have locked down the conversation around guns rather than the guns themselves. Even the most basic common sense actions are taboo because any mention of guns leads straight to the second amendment. Even when all we’re talking about is keeping our children from accidentally shooting themselves or someone else. Children have a natural curiosity around guns, secured or not. Again, we leave them huddled under their desks while we argue about politics.

Fire drill: rape and domestic violence

Let’s face it. Even approaching thoughts about a beloved child raping or being raped—being battered or battering is more than most of us can endure.

And yet, no victim or rapist, no victim or batterer comes into this world as such. We unintentionally put our children on a path the moment they are born with our ideas about what it means to be a boy or a girl. And we follow that up with a million actions, individually and culturally.

But we do not need to fix all of our million transgressions against our children at once. One at a time works. Each one of us doing one at a time.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Action Month. And I’m here to tell you that in the same way that we don’t have to wait until our daughter or son is accidentally pregnant or our child shot to do something, there are simple ways to help kids learn about and navigate healthy and unhealthy relationships. You may never know if something very simple that you say or do plants a seed for a child or young person and helps them avoid a small problem or a large catastrophe.

Grownups. We can do this. It is not hard. It is actually really fun and, I have found, often hilarious. Try these ideas and let us know what happens. Write about your stories in the comment section below, or on our Twitter or Facebook page. We can help each other learn how to safely usher our kids out to the playground!

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

From the Editor: Why We Won’t Be Reviewing ‘The Birth Of A Nation’ Upon Its Release “It is the only way I know to attempt holding my fellow Black men accountable for the violence we sometimes initiate.”

Lindsay Lohan’s Domestic Violence Problems Aren’t the First to Be Ignored, and They Certainly Won’t Be the Last “our collective response to incidents of celebrity domestic violence tends to vary according to who’s on the receiving end and who’s alleged to have committed it.”

Hunger strike enters second week for 22 immigrant mothers stuck in family detention “We are already traumatized from our countries of origin. We risked our own lives and those of our children so we could arrive on safe ground. While here our children have considered committing suicide, made desperate from confinement,”

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

Bartenders in D.C. are learning how to stop sexual assault, and so far, it’s working “The training helps us to recognize the subtle difference between a person okay with physical contact and someone who does not want to be touched,”

It’s Time To Recognize What Many Mass Murderers Share In Common “Marsha Robertson, director of communications at Futures Without Violence, said the history of domestic violence among mass shooters is now so prevalent that her organization has started to refer to the pattern as “Day 3.” “On Day 1, the shooting occurs and the press has only the bare bones of the incident. On Day 2, the media has access to much more biographical information. On Day 3, further inquiry has confirmed that the shooter had a history of domestic violence, and often had a traumatic childhood,” she said.”

James Corden’s White House tour takes an unthinkable turn when First Lady Michelle Obama joins him for a drive around the grounds singing Stevie Wonder and Beyonce. Surprise guest Missy Elliott drops in to sing “This Is For My Girls.”

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

What It Looks Like When A University Truly Fixes How It Handles Sexual Assault “Could institutionally courageous statements and actions actually lessen the impact of sexual assault? Are some of these statements not just good PR, but actually public health intervention?”

Trauma Survival is Messy: Can We Have Good Memories of Our Abusers? “We had catches phrases and silly moments — lots of them. We had inside jokes about everything from soup to laundry. We went bowling and out to dinner. He was an incredible gift giver…. I don’t want to erase seven years of my life and I shouldn’t have to just because bystanders can’t understand that trauma victims — like all human beings — are capable of holding simultaneous, conflicting feelings and thoughts.”

How one professional baseball player from Venezuela gives back “Félix works closely with youth in the Seattle area promoting the power of education. He is also a voice for the Refuse To Abuse® campaign which raises awareness to prevent domestic violence toward women — an issue ignored by male sports leagues in the US for too long.”

Shouting about guns. Again.

There was another mass shooting last week. This one was in Pennsylvania. As I write this (on March 10) there have been 8 mass shootings in the U.S. this month. EIGHT MASS SHOOTINGS IN TEN DAYS!!!! Sorry to get shouty, but I’m super mad. My heart breaks for the children whose parents were taken from them. My heart breaks for the communities that have a lot of healing to do. I’m struck by how little media attention this last shooting has received (the fact that the victims were Black probably also had something to do with it). How jaded we’ve become about mass murder.

Image from Demand Action To End Gun Violence
Image from Demand Action To End Gun Violence

Did you know that more than half of mass shootings in America are domestic violence related? Most of the victims are women and children. Most of the shooters are men. This sounds all too familiar to advocates like me. We hear about this kind of thing all the time―survivors who fear for their lives because someone who is supposed to love them has threatened them with a gun.

The media pays less attention to mass shootings when the victims are family members of the perpetrator. But some of the more high profile shootings also include elements of domestic violence. Like this recent tragedy in Kansas where the gunman was just issued a restraining order by his girlfriend and promptly went on a shooting spree at his workplace.

We know the facts, so why aren’t we putting domestic violence front and center when we are talking about guns? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently asked his first question from the bench in a decade. Why? To question if we should be taking guns away from abusers. The New York Times calls the case in question a “minor” one. I disagree. A gun in the hands of an abuser is anything but minor.

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

For Domestic Violence Survivors, Family Court Becomes Site of Continued Abuse Three years after Kate and her children initially fled her ex, the judge terminated his visits. By then, Kate had been in court every six weeks for three years and spent over $500,000 in legal costs.

We don’t do sex work because we are poor, we do sex work to end our poverty “Anti- trafficking law does not improve our working conditions, increase our options, or end our poverty. It does not reduce armed conflict in our homelands. It does not reduce corruption. It does not increase support for children and minors. It does not demand governments or society respect us or our basic human rights.”

Michelle Obama on why educating girls is vital “The barriers to girls’ education isn’t just resources. It’s not just about access to scholarships or transportation or school bathrooms,” she said. “It’s also about attitudes and beliefs — the belief that girls simply aren’t worthy of an education, that women should have no role outside the home, that their bodies aren’t their own, their minds don’t really matter and their voices simply shouldn’t be heard.”

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

The Oscar-Winning Movie That’s Actually Making Things Better for Women “This is what happens when determined women get together,” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy said during her Oscars acceptance speech, “The Pakistani prime minister said he will change the law on honor killings after watching this film,” she added. “That is the power of film.”

5 Things We Learned About Domestic Violence From the O.J. Simpson Trial “After Nicole Brown was murdered in her home in Los Angeles while her children were asleep upstairs, it was revealed that she had documented over 17 years of verbal, mental, physical and emotional abuse suffered during her relationship and marriage.”

As Rental Prices Rise, Women Stay In Bad Relationships to Survive “These scenarios run the gambit from “we’re not in love, but I suppose this will do until my next paycheck” to the much more frightening situation of living with an abusive partner and being too broke to move out.”

Is Laundry Only a Woman’s Job? This detergent company asks men to #ShareTheLoad