I know that this reference may go over some of your heads, but back in the day, there was a time when Toby McGuire played Spiderman. And right before Uncle Ben dies, he says something to poor Toby McGuire that I think is really important. He says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Now, in Spiderman!land, this told poor Toby-as-Peter-Parker that he needed to use his newfound spidey senses for good. He had a responsibility to do that, for some reason. I mean, personally, if I got bit by a spider like that, I’d probably be setting the whole of New York aflame to make sure it was dead, buuuut I am no Peter Parker, and I hate spiders. Still, poor Uncle Ben had a point.
With great power DOES come great responsibility. As a society, we often amuse ourselves watching some of those with the greatest power (and arguably the greatest responsibility) make some… poorly decisions. We grumble and we shake our heads, and we talk about what we think should happen, or what we think we would do were we in their shoes.
Well, I doubt any of us has endless pockets, or the power of a national military at our heels, or someone on speed-dial for everything that we need. We don’t have that kind of power. But we do have another kind of power. We have the power to stand up. We have the power to not be silent. We have the power to break free from those who would seek to silence us.
This is one of those times. 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. 1 in 3. And if you’re sitting at home right now thinking, “That can’t be right. That’ll never happen to me, and I certainly don’t know anyone that’s happened to,” well… Now you do. I am 1 in 3. And so is my mother. Some of you who don’t follow this blog that frequently or simply don’t know me that well may not know this, but my mother is a survivor of domestic violence. She celebrates the 4th of July for reasons entirely different than the rest of the country. She celebrates that day because it was the day of her “emancipation.” The day she called for help, and help finally came. The day the cops actually took her abuser away instead of saying, “We didn’t see him do anything.” Of course, she nearly died… but the point, my friends, is that she lived. She survived. She broke free.
She still carries a lot of scars from that time, both visible and not so. And so do I. I will never forget going to visit my mother on a break from college. I got there, and my phone didn’t work. Middle of nowhere in North Carolina. My mom asks me what I want for dinner. It seems like a normal conversation until I answer, and my mom laughs, but my stepdad isn’t laughing. Instead, he grabs her by the nape of her neck and slams her head into the coffee table. A couple days later, they leave and go to the store. I walk a mile down the road to try and call for help, but no one seems to want to take me seriously. My mom and her husband get back (an innocent trip to the flea market) and my step-father is waving a gun he purchased there out the window. All I can think is, “Someone has literally given him the means to kill her if he doesn’t do it with his bare hands.” I finally got help to get out of there thanks to some friends from college, but my mom wouldn’t come – couldn’t, for so many reasons. She was so downtrodden at that point and so scared of her own shadow, scared of what he’d do to her, or to one of her children if she left. So she stayed.
And those days leading up to July 4th? I’d lost contact with her. The only person I had been in contact with was a police officer, who had called to ask me for information about my mother. I spent several days going over in my mind all the reasons he would ask such questions, and began to mentally prepare myself for the phone call I’d only received in my nightmares up until that point. I was certain he’d killed her and that the officer was just trying to verify some information before he dropped the bad news bomb. So, the next time he called, after I’d gone to an extra therapy appointment and gone out to lunch with the girls from my support group, I sang like a bird to that officer. I told him everything I knew about my stepdad, where he might be, where he might go, anything I’d learned about his kids while I was there, their names, their ages, where they went to school. Anything I could think of to make sure that he’d have no place to hide. But… it wasn’t necessary. Because they’d caught him, and he was on his way to prison, and my mom was in the hospital, but she was going to be okay.
It was a hard road for all of us after the fact. I went back to NC to get my mom – we ended up in a hotel for a while, things got better. She’s remarried now to a wonderful man who treats her better than anyone ever has, and both of us now work with several national non-profits promoting education, awareness, and prevention of domestic violence. We host fundraisers, contribute on domestic violence awareness blogs, radio talkshows, conferences…
…because staying silent is the same thing as being complacent, and we refuse to sit down. Violence against women is a pandemic of a different type in this country, and it’s something that we need to talk about. We need to go through the hard stuff. We need to change the way we think about these discussions. We need to take what some consider taboo and bust it open with the biggest baseball bat we can find. We need to rise up, speak out, and put an end to it once and for all. Don’t be afraid to stand up. Please.
This song has been stuck in my head, and I thought it just fit really well.
[Body][The Shops]Legacy Mesh Body Special Edition (1.3)
[Skin][Go&See @ Anthem]Hope – Chubby (buff)
[Jeans][amias]Lizzy Jeans (Gray)
*note: This photo was taken with a windlight and post-edited, so colors shown may not be indicative of actual colors of items in Second Life.