Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Something I Can Do

A few nights ago, I had an encounter that shook me to the core.  It was late, raining, and the streets were deserted. My husband, cousin, and I were driving home from dinner at a friend's house when we came upon a man and woman fighting.  The fighting had begun in their car and continued out on the sidewalk.  As they shouted, hit, and wrestled one another, a little girl of about 9 years of age struggled to separate them.  She was screaming at the top of her lungs and sobbing uncontrollably, first pushing one adult and then pulling the other.  Her clothes was soaking wet and she shook all over.  We immediately shone our lights on the pair and honked the car horn repeatedly. Startled, the man ran, and the woman began to chase him, crossing the four-laned street in her pursuit.  The little girl stood screaming in the middle of the road, still begging the the two to stop.  As my husband called the police, my cousin and I got out of the car and ran to the child, who'd returned to the sidewalk and collapsed onto the wet concrete.  I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly, whispering words of comfort.  At first her little body was tense and rigid, but as she felt the warmth of my embrace and heard my soothing words, I felt her go limp against my chest.  When the police arrived,  they followed in the direction that the man and woman had gone.  I was still holding the child when an officer returned with the child's mother.  Reluctantly, I relinquished her and watched as she and her mother climbed back into their car and drove away.  At that moment, I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of futility. I wanted to do so much more than just whisper empty words of reassurance.  I wanted to do so much more.  I wanted to help make things OK for her, to be part of the solution.  I wanted to make a real difference in her life.  Instead, all I could do was watch the car drive away.

When I got home, I went straight to where my children lay sleeping.  They slept peacefully, nestled in bed, without a care in the world.  My heart felt heavy as I thought of the little shivering bundle I'd held in my arms only minutes before and I cried for her.  She deserves to feel safe, to rest peacefully at night, to have a childhood free of worry, anxiety and fear. 

My sweet little girl

I'd heard stories about domestic abuse and seen it reenacted in shows and movies, but it had never hit home for me until that night.  The harsh and gut-wrenching reality is that there are thousands of children living in an endless nightmare of violence and abuse. The events of that night opened my eyes to a world of pain that lies hidden behind a semblance of normalcy.  I did some research and discovered staggering statistics about domestic violence and abuse in the state of New Jersey.  The most recent report I could find was for the year 2009 in which 73,709 domestic violence offenses were reported.  In 19,940 of those cases there were children present.  Sadder still is the statistic that 30% to 60% of perpetrators who abuse spouses/intimate partners also abuse children in the household.  Remember, these numbers represent occurrences in the state of New Jersey alone.   I know it is impossible to eradicate pain and suffering from every home, for every child.  I know that no matter how many children I help,  there are still going to be thousands of others that no one will ever reach.  But I also know that if I do nothing, the one child that I could have helped will continue to suffer, and I will be responsible.  I have made inquires and hope to soon begin volunteering my time to Shelter Our Sisters, a place where not only women, but also their children, can go to find help and refuge from violent situations. 

As odd as it may sound, I felt compelled to share this story with you because I want my voice to speak for her.  We shop, go to school, go to work and ride the bus with silent victims every day. We live in complacent ignorance of the horrors that they'll have to face when they get home.  It is the children that are the most vulnerable and that pay the steepest price.  Please, take some time today to think of what you can do to help. 

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
Helen Keller

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guess What?!

I'm being featured over at Remodelaholic today!  I am beyond honored and so thrilled!  Cassity has been so sweet and I've truly enjoyed getting to know her a bit more via email.   If you've never visited her blog, you're in for quite a treat.  Click on over there and check it out!  If you've come over from Remodelaholic and are visiting for the first time, welcome! 

I've been M.I.A. for a few weeks, busily enjoying every minute of this beautiful summer weather with my family, making memories that will last a lifetime.