After our Zonta Club meeting in September, I ran by a big box home improvement store to buy a flower for my stepmother. The day was my Dad’s birthday. He was no longer here to celebrate with us having passed away in February this year. But he was still very much in our hearts and minds that day.
As I was checking out, the cashier asked me what “Zonta” was. I realized that in my hurry to get to the store and deliver the plant to my stepmother that evening, I had not yet taken off my Zonta pin. I told the sales clerk that we were a professional and business women’s group concerned with ending domestic violence among other priorities. I also explained that Erica Wiedemann, the Executive Director of The Haven of RCS, the local domestic violence shelter in Clearwater, had spoken to our group that evening.
The cashier looked at me and said, “A domestic violence shelter once helped me.” I was startled by her admission. As her male colleague and I stood close by, “Raven” told us her story. Raven had married at age 17 and had her first child at age 19. Her husband’s abusive streak had emerged while they were stationed overseas in Germany. Their family grew to five children. Once when they were back in the US, her mother came to visit. Her husband started threatening Raven’s mother with violence, too. That’s when Raven decided that she had had enough. She got her mother out of the house and then left with the kids who were at home and went to the police station. Raven had no money, no job, no nothing except fear and a desire to protect herself, her mother, and her children from further abuse. The police connected her with the domestic violence shelter who helped her with a residence and time to relocate, find a job, and build a new life. Raven was willing to let me take her picture and publish it on this website because she wants people to know how important programs are for helping victims of domestic violence.
On today, October 20, I am sharing this story with you because domestic violence happens all the time. Don’t look the other way when you see it happening to someone in your life. Talk to them, help them see that violence against women and children by a partner, paramour, or spouse is never justified. A journey of 1,000 miles starts with the first step; remember what Raven did over twenty years ago to make a new life for her self and her children because someone helped her connect with the local domestic violence program. Let’s all be that someone…