Read this post here.
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women’s Act. (VAWA) You can find information about the VAWA online if you want to know more about it. Here is one such document. Basically the act provided $1.6 billion to offer community based responses, investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, allowed civil suits if prosecutors failed to prosecute a case,and established the Office of Violence Against Women.
It was reauthorized in 2000 and in 2005 with some expansion each time. Statistics show that there has been a marked decrease in the rate of intimate partner violence and deaths. More cases are being reported and more victims are being supported in recovery. All states now have laws in place to provide for warrantless arrests, “rape shield laws”, laws concerning date rape, and stalking. This act has had a major impact on changing the way violence against women is viewed and handled. In 2011, Congress failed to reauthorize the act.
Here are the reasons the House Republicans oppose the re-authorization of the act.
- The act gives limited powers to tribal authorities to prosecute non-Indians accused of assaulting their Indian partners on tribal lands. Currently, non-Indians who batter their spouses often go unpunished because federal authorities don’t have the resources to pursue misdemeanors committed on reservations. **39% of Native American and Native Alaskan women will be abused physically or sexually in their lifetime. Most abusers go prosecuted.
- The act would extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking. **Many states have established laws for stalking, but this would now be included in the VAWA definition . Republicans say this “dilutes” the definition. Really?
- It would also allow some battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas. **It seems this provision is being dropped by Democrats in an attempt to appease the Republicans so this act can pass.
- It would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence. **Again Republicans say this will “dilute” the focus on domestic violence. I think not passing this act dilutes our ability to protect all victims of domestic violence, but that is just my humble opinion.
Some have gone so far as to imply that the money used for rape crisis centers and domestic abuse hotlines, etc. is really going to support feminist programs. They say this act increases divorce, causes marriages to break up and is set up to cause the hatred of men. If a woman is in a violent marriage then the marriage should break up and divorce is a viable solution. I don’t hate all men. I dont’ hate men at all, although I will admit I don’t always understand them. I just hate the violence inflicted on women by men.
And, before you go postal and scream that women can perpetrate violence against men, I will concede that you are correct. Men typically have access to more resources to leave and the ability to protect themselves. I dont’ want that debate to get in the way of why we don’t have a VAWA in place after documented evidence that the act saves lives. Also, part of the reason the Republicans are opposing the act is the language inferring that men could be recipients of help from this act. Oh my, that would be just dreadful.
This is my view and my opinion. All I am asking is that you look at the facts. Do some research. Get involved. If you find that the VAWA is valid, and saves lives, and helps your community, your city, your state, and your country, then PLEASE do something about it. Write your congressman/congresswoman. Call them, email them. Do something. Don’t just sit back and say, “All this violence a bad thing.”
We often stand in horror and disgust as we hear stories from other countries of women being mutilated, tortured, and baby girls being killed because baby boys are the only ones of value. Slavery was abolished in our country a long time ago, yet girls are sold into slavery around the world every day. We ask how these other countries can allow such atrocities to occur. Yet, we stand by while our politicians squabble over language in an act that prevents death and violence in our own country.
I am a Christian. Yes, a church attending, praying, Bible reading Christian. I stop just short of wearing the WWJD bracelet. Jesus showed us the way to treat other human beings and that included the women in his life. I dare you to read Luke and not come away seeing Jesus treat women with respect, caring, and love. WWJD-What Would Jesus Do? I will let you answer that question for yourself. For those of other faiths reading this blog, I challenge you to look into your own beliefs and find answers about these issues.
I don’t believe we can be rid of all violence in our world. I am not a Pollyanna. I do believe we can effect change. We see evidence of that all around us. I don’t believe the VAWA is going to rid our society of domestic abuse, violence, or rape. I do believe this act can make a difference. Yes, I was once a women who lived with abuse. I lived with child abuse in many forms as a child and as a woman I lived with abuse in my marriage. I found help and a way to live my life free of violence. I hope this act will be reauthorized and other women find help as well.
“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” Sally Koch
I have a crazy busy weekend but I am determined to post everyday for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Today started with a Friday adventure with my friend and adventure seeker, Jan. We visited a very unique grouping of shops a couple of weeks ago but the shops were closed so we could only explore the outside. We found some very interesting items and knew we wanted to return.
I wanted to share our adventure with you and I believe the best way to do that is by sharing the pictures.
We love to go to Page’s Okra Grill. The food is always good and today was no exception.
A drum provided a great pot for this plant. This is in front of a small music store in a simple complex of shops.
A tree playing saxophone.
We were greeted by this interesting creature in the shop. Jan saw him first and warned me. She knows I don’t like surprises. We kept waiting for him to jump or move, but he turned out to be just a dummy.
Then we found a whole yard filled with interesting statues.
I love fairies and this was one of my favorites today.
A very long, tall cat that caught my eye.
I couldn’t resist this little guy. Too cute.
We were getting dangerously close to the beach (once on the beach you can never guarantee leaving) and it was time to make a run to the school to pick up Jan’s kid’s so our morning adventure came to and end. I love these times to explore, talk, and laugh. Tonight I am taking my grandson to see the Broadway production of “Rock of Ages.” Check tomorrow for a post about that adventures.
What adventures do you like to take? Do you like them planned or just take them as they come?
I read a blog post by my friend Jan (SimplyJan) called Time-ish. I commented on her post and realized I was writing enough for a new blog post. I believe that is what happens when we read a post that has an impact on us. I try to comment on posts, but sometimes have to really work for it. That was not the case today.
The post talks about being late and time being an inflexible task master. She shares her thoughts on time and how it plays out in her life. I wanted to write this post because I have learned so much from my friend about time. I was taught to be early to everything. I was taught to plan every minute and being on time meant being early; even better was being first. It was all about appearances. It showed how devoted and dedicated you were. I believe it might have been more about being first so you could see who was coming and what they were doing. Didn’t want to miss anything. Church and Church functions were where this most important.
I also grew up with a very rigid time schedule. Dinner was at 5:00pm sharp-always. Bedtime was set with no deviations. We did certain things on certain days and at certain times. We arrived at Sunday School before the Pastor or any of the teachers. We were the first in the sanctuary before service. I was also always one of the first kids at school.
I carried some of this over into my adult life. I am one of those people who leave the house 30 minutes before I need to arrive, when it only takes 10 minutes. I then find myself sitting in the car and “killing” time. I have been known to drive around the block a few times so that I don’t walk into an empty room. In order to do this I have to start getting ready early. I dress 30 minutes before I need to leave the house. I find myself stressed because I might not be 15 minutes early.
During my adventures with my friend and her family, I have learned to chill a bit. When I started tagging along, we would decide to go to lunch and a movie. We would still be at their house with only two hours until movie time, and I would begin to panic. How were we ever going to get to get to the restaurant, order food, eat, pay the bill, get to the theater, get tickets, get drinks, find out seats….OMG…..with less than two hours to do it? And yet somehow, we managed to do it all. Rarely have we been late to anything. What did I almost miss while worrying about all of this? Laughs with friends, antics by kids, and watching an adorable dog with a very playful cat. Doesn’t seem to be a fair exchange.
In her post Jan talked about a visit we made to a small garden with a couple of unusual shops. After walking through and observing unusual tree art, an oversize rope swing, a Volkswagen used as a flower bed, and unique art, it was time to head to our next destination. In the past I would have suggested we leave right away and begin to worry about traffic or a natural disaster making us late. This day we walked the long way around back to car. We spotted some beautiful butterflies and stopped to watch them and take pictures. We made it to our next stop with time to spare.
I have lived more than 60 years now and wonder how many butterfly moments I have missed by making sure I arrived first and sitting in my car “killing” time. I don’t want to lose any more special moments like those. And if once in a while, I run a few minutes late, I will turn and smile at those who arrived early knowing that perhaps they missed the butterflies, laughter, and a few special moments in life.
When I ended my last blog post, I was standing in line waiting for the roller coaster ride to stop and allow all of the people who stood in line for an hour in order to be humiliated by a camera taking a picture with their faces distorted in a scream at 62 miles per hour and dropping over 140 feet, to unstrap and leave the ride. Some come out laughing, some in pure joy and others in total hysterics. There are a couple that I will move away from quickly in fear they will lose the scrumptious hot dog lunch they recently consumed. Some children are begging already exhausted parents to go back and do it again as others swear never to ride again.
It is time to walk across the gate, sit in a seat, and wait for the attendant to harness all in the seats and pull down the steel bar that will keep us safe through out the ride. I have to put my faith and trust in this contraption and engineering talents of the creators of the machine. Even though I think I will be safe, I definitely have some fear. My heart is racing, palms sweating, and mind trying to prepare me for the inevitable movement of the ride. I look around and see my friends strapped in beside me. I see the employees of the park checking the equipment and preparing to take the controls. In just a few moments, the slow gentle movement of the roller coaster will begin.
In my last post I compared events in my life at this time to the ride. Several friends left comments of encouragement. Don’t know whether to laugh, yell, or cry…or all three at the same time! Throw your hands up and ride the wind? I suspect that means you were ready for the change. Good luck! Close your eyes and remember to breathe. These were just a few of them.
My friend Joyce said, “They are the newest coasters. Those babies lock you in nice and safe. Great for the loops!!!! Right there with you sister!!!! :)” That made me stop and think. Right there with you…that is what I need to remember. Not only do I have super strong straps and metal bars but I have people taking the ride with me. The friends and family who are riding with me all have something they bring to help me. They have taught me about facing fear, about seeing my own strength, about love, laughter, faith, and more. They have helped me see that even if I lose my shoes (or my lunch) it doesn’t change who I am inside. No one can take that from me.
The next few days are going to be like the ride. They will be filled with anticipation and fear. There may be tears and moments of uncertainty. But, I am ready for the ride to begin. I see all of you surrounding me. I am securely strapped in. I am ready to go.
I hate roller coasters. I spent one day at Carowinds in North Carolina a few years ago. I decided to confront my fear and loathing of the amusement rides and try it. Actually, it wasn’t about confronting anything. I went because I had a date and he loved roller coasters. As usual, my perceptions were correct. It was not amusing or fun. It was a bit of insanity strapped into a seat.
As I sat in a metal chair with my feet dangling below, the wires and contractions holding the seat to a rail looked unsure at best. The nice young man boy came to be sure I was securely strapped into my seat. The lack of concern or caring from his face was not reassuring. Without warning, the seat began to move and my dangling feet had only air as their perch. I vaguely remember a warning about the potential to lose one’s shoes.
There was a symphony of screams coming from voices both young and old, high pitched and low, male and female. In that moment of suspended fear, we were all equal. I don’t believe I screamed because my vocals cords were paralyzed with fear. I also did not open my eyes during that 60 or so seconds of being tossed around like a schizophrenic bird. When the seat finally stopped and my feet once again touched solid ground, I gave thanks and unhooked as quickly as possible for fear it would begin again.
Of course, you can’t spend the day at Carowinds and ride only one ride. I believe at final count I had ridden on five different varieties of terror. I left the park that day vowing never to do it again and filled with the knowledge that I had indeed faced the fear.
This week I feel that my life has become an amusement park filled with roller coasters. I am going to face them and strap in, not necessarily because I choose to, but because l must if I want to leave the park. This morning I am standing in line ready to be strapped in to the first ride. The fear is strong but so is the desire to make my way out of here.
I was reminded last night that I am not alone at the park. There are people here to hold my hand and take this ride with me. They can’t take the ride for me, but having them with me gives me strength. I will try not to scream and I hope I can keep at least one eye open most of the time.
It looks like the line is moving so I must go. I hope I don’t lose my shoes.
Vacations are a strange creature. I was so excited about an adventure aboard the train going to New York and Vermont. I counted the weeks and then days until time to leave. I have always loved traveling by train and I was excited to visit my brother and friend, Donna. I must have packed and repacked 4 or 5 times. I shared some of my adventures along the way in my blog.
I arrived at the train station early only to find out the train was delayed almost an hour. I am not necessarily patient in these situations. I was anxious to get on board and begin my journey. I met a couple of folks traveling from Germany and passed the time talking with them. I was very excited to see Washington, DC, Baltimore, Md. , and New York City, even though I wasn’t stopping in any of them for long.
My first stop to visit my brother in Pooghkeepsie, NY was so much fun. We visited the Duchess County Fair, ate take out Thai food at the drive in movie, and walked almost 4 miles across the scenic Hudson River. Then it was off to Vermont. I hadn’t spent time with Donna in over 3 years so it was great to reconnect and visit as well as do some shopping in scenic Vermont.
Towards the end of the week, I started to think more about home. I had loved the trip but I was ready to come home. It reminded me of Thanksgiving. You know, you plan a meal and spend hours cooking and preparing the feast, put all the food out, dig in, and sometime just after you take that second serving of dressing and sweet potato casserole, you are just ready to stop eating and retreat to the couch to relax.
When people ask about my trip, I am excited to fill them in on the details but always end with, “But I am really glad to be home. “ Home is not so much a specific place, like my house, but it is here in my community of family, friends, and familiar places. It’s where I always go to the same hairdresser, doctor, grocery stores, restaurants, and more. It is familiar and comfortable; it is safe. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy kept telling everyone, “There’s no place like home.”
I grew up here in Charleston, SC and this place has always been home for me. I have moved away on numerous occasions. This place holds my memories and my heart. It has been and will always be a part of me. But I haven’t always felt as though I had a home. I have usually had a place to live that was my own, but so many didn’t feel like home. (Yes, there were two times in my life that I didn’t have place to live, but that is a story for another time.) Even my house growing up didn’t feel like a home. When I moved back here 15 years ago, I knew I had come home. My community of family and friends has been growing continually since then.
In the past couple of years, I have been coming home in another way. I am coming home to me. I am discovering who I am. I am learning to accept the person I am and can be. I spent so much of my life believing I wasn’t OK. In a post Coloring Outside the Lines, I talked about being the child and woman I was told to be. I knew it wasn’t me but “they” didn’t seem to like me. I tried so hard to keep coloring inside the lines and stay in my box.
I have come home to me. I want to spend the rest of my years here in this body learning and discovering all the amazing things that are me. I have opened my heart, mind, and soul to God and said, “OK, I get it. I am the one who turned away from You. I am the one who wasn’t able to accept the person you made me to be. So here I am. I am ready.”
I am building my community for this purpose. I am opening my mind to learn and see things I have closed my eyes to before. Wonderful teachers and new friends have come into my life. I have kept family and old friends who love me as I am and are excited to see the new things happening in my life. Some of them are a bit confused and I bet just a little worried at times, but they are loving me just the same. I recently left my job after twelve years and have no real idea what is coming next. I am sharing my secrets, my dreams, my ideas, and life with some of these people. Excitement, awe, and still at times, just a bit of fear fill my days.
In the The Wiz (1978), Glinda the Good Witch and Dorothy have this conversation:
Glinda the Good: Well, Dorothy, you were wise and good enough to help your friends to come here and find what was inside them all the time. That’s true for you, also.
Dorothy: Home? Inside of me? I don’t understand.
Glinda the Good: Home is a place we all must find, child. It’s not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere.
Maybe I have been on a rather long and odd vacation most of my life. All I know is that it was an adventure; sometimes great and many times very painful. But I have found my way home and I am so very glad to be here.
I follow a group called “People of the Second Change.” It is a global community of activists, imperfectionists and 2nd chancers committed to unleashing radical grace every day, in every moment, for everyone. The message the past few days has been about labels. Here is a small piece from today.
Labels are a violation.
Somewhere, sometime, someone spoke words over you, and their lies and violation cut deep. You believed them, and became painfully labeled and shamed.
Today, it’s time to identify the label maker, the person who we allowed to label us. We are going to stare down that shame until it dissolves into the nothing it is… no label stands a chance in the light of our worth.
We are going to put a name to the wound… we can’t truly heal till we know why it’s there in the first place. Who said it? Who put the label there? Was it once? Over and over again? Either way, it was carved into us. We are going to choose to be free from the lie of the toxic label, we are going to choose truth.
I work with a great life coach, Kathy Murphy PhD and she helped me see that I have continued to believe the lies about myself. I needed to find and live my life from the truth. It is a message I am hearing over and over in my life.
As I child I lived with the labels fat, under-achiever, bad, stupid, scaredy cat, ugly, dummy, and crazy. Some were labels from other kids while the adults in my life used some of them as well. I breathed them in and they became my identity.
As a young wife and mother, I heard the labels stupid, just a woman, lazy, dumb, failure, ignorant, frigid, worthless, and more. I added them to the list of who I was. As I started to change some of the labels changed. Some of the labels held some truth-drunk, alcoholic, druggie, and others that aren’t appropriate for this blog. Interestingly enough, even after I got sober and started a new way of life some of those labels followed me.
As I began to find my courage and my voice, I chose new labels for myself. I became a feminist, courageous, understanding, compassionate, writer, friend, good mother and grandmother, seeker,and wise woman. Some people question those labels. I question them myself as much as others do some days. I surround myself with people who will encourage and nurture my truth. As I grow stronger, the old labels become fragmented and weak. My truth pushes them aside and takes their place. The wounds heal, but the scars always remain.
Do you label others before you know their truth? What labels do you still carry with you? What has helped you overcome your labels?
I recently shared a post written by my friend Jan at “simplyjan” about the new movie Brave and the heroine Merida. After hearing so many things about the movie and Merida, I knew I must see it myself. Today I went with Jan, her little kids, big kid and big kid’s boyfriend to see the movie. I left for a moment to get something to drink. When I returned the entire group was pointing at the screen. I turned and saw a preview of the newest Tinkerbell movie. Those who know me understand my fascination and love of Tinkerbell. While I agree with Jan that Merida is indeed an incredible heroine, I still claim Tinkerbell as mine.
Tinkerbell is clever, funny, determined, feisty, opinionated, and pouty at times. She has a mind of her own and can be stubborn. She is a devoted friend and loves deeply. The extremes in personality are explained by the fact that a fairy’s size prevents her from holding more than one feeling at a time, so when she is angry she has nothing to counterbalance it. In the same way, when she loves, she loves completely.
In the story of Peter Pan, she is angry and hurt when Peter rejects her and attempts to get even. The plan backfires and the awful Captain Hook tries to poison Peter. Tinkerbell drinks the poison and Peter forgets his anger and begs everyone to help save Tinkerbell. She was saved when Peter asked everyone to clap and shout, “I do believe in Fairies.”
Tinkerbell also has the ability to help others. If she encounters those who cannot fly, she only need sprinkle them pixie dust. She must help them understand that the pixie dust will only work if you have faith and trust.
I believe I share most of the characteristics of Tinkerbell, although I don’t think I am pouty or opinionated. Friends and family may disagree with that statement. I do tend to have extremes in personality, not necessarily because of my size, but for other reasons. The challenge in my life is finding balance. One of the things I fear most in life is rejection by those I love. If you have followed my blog, you may understand.
There was a time in my life where those who clapped and said they believed in me saved me when I couldn’t believe in anything. I have had many people in my life believe in me. I have to come to learn that I dishonor their belief and trust when I lose faith and give up.
Someone asked me how Peter Pan and Tinkerbell became such good friends. There is a variety of explanations but most believe them met in Kensington Gardens. It was fate or destiny. “If you had a chance to change your fate, would you?” Merida asks this question in the movie. I wonder if Tinkerbell would have lived if she and Peter had never met. Some may say she would never have been in the position of dying from drinking poison is they had not met. I wonder about that question in my own life. I don’t think I would change a thing. Every heartache, obstacle, joy and experience builds on the next. I don’t know what is ahead so if I change what is behind I may miss something amazing.
Perhaps Brave is the perfect word for these two heroines. Merida and Tinkerbell both showed bravery in standing up for themselves. They also showed they could love in spite of fear, admit when they were wrong, and keep going forward when things seemed hopeless. I hope I can be as Brave in my own life.