Last night I attended the 18th Annual Memorial Service honoring victims of homicide as a result of domestic violence, hosted by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. This year there were 70 such homicides in Maryland. I have worked in this field professionally for one year now and was taken aback by how this service affected me. I thought I was used to the horrors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I was wrong.

The service involved public officials, state senators and delegates, community leaders, advocates, and survivors coming together to acknowledge the toll domestic violence takes on families and to reaffirm the commitment to end violence in our homes. The home, sadly, is the most dangerous place for women and children. Most women who are killed or injured by someone else suffer at the hands of someone they love, rather than at the hands of strangers.

Guest were invited to stand and hold a cardboard heart with the name, age and murder weapon of each of the 70 victims. I held Annabel Shinnaberry, 75, gun. Across the room someone held Alvin Shinnaberry, 66, gun. It was a murder-suicide and I wanted so badly to know her story. Then there was Baby Boy ___________, suffocation, a woman whose murder weapon was starvation, another, strangulation. Most were shot. I stood in the front of the room holding this heart and watching the well of the Joint Hearing Room fill up. 70 is a lot of people. 1 is too many.

Women are murdered, battered, raped, humiliated, insulted, manipulated, controlled, and degraded everyday, everywhere in the world. In America, 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before they are 18 years old. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they are 18 years old. 93% of all of them are abused by someone they know and trust: immediate family, other relatives, family friends or neighbors. Nearly 1 in 3 adult women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood. Who hears their stories? Where are their voices?

Their stories and voices are with each of us. We all know and love someone who has suffered or is suffering at the hands of someone they love. Silence is injustice. Love speaks up, if only to say, “I know. I see. I love you. I’m here…no matter what you choose.”

My heart broke to hear the story of a survivor who never thought it would be her. She held the heart of her best friend. The stories are all around us if we only open our eyes, if we only want to see.

There are no silver bullets. But, do something. Anything is better than silence. Be the voice of the voiceless.



One thought on “Heartbroken

  1. I can handle this one. I WILL break some silence of my own. I am in a relationship that if most really saw the deepth of it all, they would be astonished. When I think of it when I am in my right mind (not often when it comes to loving him!) I want to slap myself! LOL. I laugh to keep from crying. Yes, I love Mr. Man to death and will dare anyone but me to talk bad about him. I would fight someone for it. I can complain all I want and talk bad about him but that is where the line is drawn. I don’t need anyone telling me where I am going wrong because I feel like I am smart enough and in control enough to see things myself so I don’t need anyone else trying to butt in. Yet at the same point in time, I struggle. I want out. I want him. I want normalcy. I want life to magically work out. So right now, I stay because 1. I love him. 2. I am no where around him nor will I have to be for a period of time. 3. I feel very in control of everything. 4. I understand where his out of control attitude stems from and I know it is pain (even if I can’t help him get past or control it) 5. We gots a baby now! I know none of those are reasons to stay but they are my reasons so mind your business. I know that there is no rhyme or reason to DV and that things don’t have to escalate, they can just happen but I feel like I am in a bubble now and quite frankly, I am happy in my bubble through and through until you reach the core of me…my heart. But really, how many of you get to that point? So all you need to know is that I am happy.

    ***I know that this comment seems like I just spat on your blog but it is not meant that way! LOL.***

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