If you’re not already aware, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which takes on a whole new meaning for me this year, now that I’ve lost my mother to domestic violence. I always noticed the cause and appreciated all that was being done by organizations during this month in past years because my mother had long been a victim of domestic violence I had known, to some extent, the impacts it could have, but this year, the impacts have stretched much further than I ever thought they would.
I always had a deep fear within me that my father would kill my mother. It was such a deep fear that I did not want to say it out loud for fear that by saying it, I might will it into existence somehow. But the fear was always there. It wasn’t until this year, when my father (as most of my regular readers probably already know) shot and killed my mother and then killed himself, and the aftermath of that incident that I realized this deep seated fear had not been unique to me. That their deaths and the history behind it were not some coincidence, they were part of a pattern.
And so this year, as I discussed in one of my most recent blog posts, I have started getting involved with awareness projects surrounding this issue as a way of working through my grief and trying to honor my mother who I still miss so very much. Now that the month of October has officially started, some of these projects have already been rolled out. I have helped coordinate a massive video project for Ruth’s Cottage & the Patticake House where community leaders discuss different aspects of domestic violence and it’s impacts, which you can find on their Facebook page all throughout the month. I’ll be telling my own story in one of the videos. I am also helping to get brave guys to volunteer to take photos in high heels, as a virtual replacement for their “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, which happens every year in October, at least when there’s not a global pandemic going on. I’ve also helped to coordinate a new idea, called the “Save a Seat” project with the shelter manager there that tells victim’s stories and places them all throughout the communities the shelter serves. My mother’s story is among those included in the project. I’m also planning to be a part of a live Q&A with a Ben Hill County (the county where she died) Commissioner this month, and I’m writing a column for the Albany Herald each Sunday on domestic violence.
I don’t say all this to brag about myself. I don’t want a pat on the back. I say it because I hope it sparks change in you, just as it did in me. I hope my experience makes you realize how devastating the impacts of domestic violence are. That it’s not just breast cancer killing women we should be worried about in October. I tell you in hopes that maybe you will do something to raise awareness. I don’t expect anything as big as what I’m doing, but maybe you make a donation to an organization like Ruth’s Cottage. Or maybe you start volunteering, or you help with projects like the one I named. But don’t just sit back this October because women like my mother need you.
And while October is typically the month everyone rallies around Domestic Violence Awareness, I also hope that you’ll remember my story and my mother’s story long after this month and all the social media graphics are gone.