A month ago, the Ray Rice video was dominating headlines. Now it seems that incident was just the trickle before the flood. There have been so many high profile reports about professional athletes and domestic violence in the news lately that it’s challenging to follow it.
Frankly, I’m not really trying.
What motivates me are not the celebrity sports figures with options but those who feel they have no power and nowhere else to turn. I’m touched beyond words by the plight of individuals who, in the words of Dickens, have no other refuge or resource. One such person, a young woman, phoned the administrative office of A Woman’s Place (AWP) a few days ago, and I was the one who happened to pick up her incoming call.
“My friend’s father abused me yesterday,” she said in a trembling, anguished voice.
It was difficult for me to be fully present in that moment. To hear the depth of her pain and know beyond all doubt that one human being had caused another very great harm.
After briefly and gently expressing sympathy, I provided AWP’s 24/7 Hotline number, 800.220.8116, so that she could speak with a trained counselor. Then I had to pause for several minutes afterward to come to terms with the experience. In less than 30 seconds, I’d been given irrefutable proof that we live in a world where a person’s trust can be fundamentally betrayed.
My first month as a new staff member at AWP has gone by fast. Partly because of the excitement of relocating and starting a new job, but mostly because it was also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The past 31 days have been a whirlwind of activity.
Among other things, I’ve been involved in planning and promoting a 5K race, a candlelight vigil, and a fundraising kick-off event. As a good communicator should, I’ve reviewed research, absorbed statistics, and read breaking news articles about domestic violence in America. I’ve prepared talking points and peppered local media with press releases about AWP’s goals to empower victims and change society for the better right here in Bucks County.
Yet for all the words that I will read and write in the months and (hopefully) years ahead, none will ever matter more than the simple fact that when she called, AWP answered.