“The important thing about being a person with a story to tell is that you break the silence and try to raise awareness that this happens to women of all different ages, all different ethnicities, income levels, education levels — it happens in every religion, in every community.” -Leslie Morgan Steiner, Domestic violence survivor and activist
The seed of fear has somehow been planted in the pit of my stomach in the last 24 hours. We are two days until the Day of Unity vigil in Montclair and I should be thrilled, and am somewhat. Last night at dinner my husband asked what is going to happen Monday night and I realized I don’t know. My grand idea a few weeks ago was that there would be this string of people who started registering to give testimonials or read poetry on Monday night and that I could just organize it to make that happen. So far, it is just me who is ready and willing to share her story. The readiness is part of the problem. In the past I haven’t had a lot of trouble speaking about my abusive first marriage, but I have done so with people who I either know directly or people who are affiliated with someone in my life. For me this has been a much easier task because I can assume some kind of support from the people I am speaking to. I have never spoken about my past in front of complete strangers and I am suddenly very nervous and “lump in the throat” scared. I never wanted this to be about me, and now it suddenly feels like it is and I know what to do. It’s my turn to speak out and stand up against domestic violence. But how? A few days ago I was worried that there won’t be anyone who shows up on Monday night. As of yesterday I no longer have that fear. I had reached out to his office about a possible appearance but knew that wasn’t going to happen. You can imagine my surprise when in yesterdays “Women for Booker” email from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, he endorsed this event in Montclair! The Senator recently proposed a piece of legislation called the SAVE (Securing Assistance for Victim Empowerment) Act which would increase funding for domestic violence prevention programs by $100 million next year, paid for by closing a decades-old tax loophole used by professional sporting leagues. There are currently ten professional sports leagues that operate under the 501(c)(6) tax exempt code. Included in these leagues are the NHL, PGA, and you guessed it, the NFL who last year paid Commissioner Roger Goodell over $44 million. Does anyone other than Senator Booker see the problem here? His endorsement, though good for support of this bill, was and is a huge vote of confidence. That single e-mail reaches more people than I could make happen, even if I did try. They didn’t include the website, though, so I don’t know what to expect. Definitely more people than I could have gotten on my own and people whom are outside my personal reach. It is both exciting and nerve-racking. So what do I talk about? How do I talk about it? How do I ask other people to get up and share their most intimate histories? I have no idea but I suppose I had better figure it out.