Many of you know that one of our group members was recently arrested, falsely accused by her abuser,  of custodial interference.  He lied and got the courts to do things his way, and she was arrested and her 3 and 5 year old children were taken away from the mom, and forced to live in what we know to be a dangerous situation. The media picked up on the story, spoon-fed lies by the abuser and his new wife, and are spreading lies, doing their best to destroy the character of the victim. This abuser has been banned for life from the Disney properties because of the physical abuse he perpetrated on the victim, on their property, in view of their kids and everyone else in the park.  None of this made the papers or the 5 oclock news, and it says sometime about the caliber of those who spread the lies without researching to know the truth. As someone who has worked in journalism, it makes me sick.

We are currently working on getting legal representation for the victim who did nothing more than try to keep her kids safe (She already had court-granted permanent sole custody of the kids in question).  

Those who have not survived domestic violence ask a woman why she doesn't just leave... this is an example of what can happen when she does. Those of us who have left our abuser and dealt with the system know that this could be OUR story... The reality is that most abusers manipulate the system to continue to exert power and control over the victim and her kids.  This case is more extreme because the abuser and his new wife have a LOT of money.  The truth is that we do not have a justice system. We have a legal system... and money, all too often, will buy legality if not justice. 

Domestic violence victims who leave, all too often, have no access to an attorney, or they get one who doesn't do the job he or she is supposed to do.  Victims and kids suffer as a result. The statistics on how many domestic violence victims lose custody of their kids, is appalling.  This needs to change.  We have a constitution, and legal rights... but time after time, domestic violence victims have those rights trampled on, while the abuser, with money, gets off scott-free once again.  It is time for those of us who have survived (statistics say anywhere from one third to one half of women will be victims in their lifetime...and this doesn't count all those kids raised in abusive homes.) to stand up and say enough.  and keep saying it until they get it...and become part of the system, so that they have no choice but to listen.  The way to make change is to get involved...not to ignore it, condemn the victim (revictimizing her yet again) but fight for what is right, simply because it IS right.  For those of us who are American citizens, that is what galvanized our forefathers and mothers into action.  We need to call on those same feelings and do what is necessary to change things.

I went into the group tonight for the first time in a couple of days (I have been busy working on getting the victim in jail what she needs) and I was moved to see the posts that other group members have put up, and the support that is being given.  Letter writing campaigns and letters of support are going out... and it is just beginning... Our group is a place of support and encouragement.  It is also a place of action.

I am frequently asked, in the "real world,"  what it is that I do. I explain that I work with an amazing group of survivors and victims who support and encourage other victims and their kids, and that even though the job I do is overwhelmingly difficult because of the broken system, it is also one of the most inspiring things I have ever done.  I am so proud of the support that is freely given, and that I work with a group of women-warriors. This is just the latest example.  I know that all of us would be down at that jail, today, if we could, picketting to educate people about the injustice, and pressuring for her release.

Yes we fight a difficult battle. People don't want to talk about domestic violence. They just want it to go away. When a victim leaves, she faces challenges that the world has no concept of...but it is NOT impossible.  We make progress every time a woman gets out safely, and makes a new beginning.

The reality is that the system is more than just "broken"... and it isn't going to be an easy fix.  Many many victims and their kids have become casualties in the war against domestic terrorism.  For right now, we are concentrating on getting our friend, who has had her civil rights violated all over the place, out of jail, and getting her kids away from imminent danger.

Yes, it is hard, doing what we do. The hardest part is surviving ourselves, so we can do the work to build a future that offers hope of a world without abuse... But I am thankful that tonight I got a reminder that we do not fight this battle alone.  Women all over the world share our pain, and are fighting for change.  I am honored to be part of this battle.

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Nov. 15, 2010 at 12:34 AM

Excellent post Arisa!

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Nov. 15, 2010 at 8:53 PM

That is a perfectly written piece and I posted it to my profile on Facebook.bow down

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