It has been too long. I’m so glad you made it back to these pages despite my long silence. I will be here more consistently starting this week.
Since we are together, I want to tell you about some of the people that I have been spending time with and some of the things that I have learned. In September just after I last wrote, I went to the International Violence, Abuse, and Trauma Conference. I spent time with people from all over the world who have committed some part of their life to ending interpersonal violence. I heard touching stories of bravery, faith, hope, hopelessness, persistence, horror, steadfast work, humor, joy, and anger. I felt all of these feelings. Artists, members of the Army, leaders in the US Armed Services, professors, survivors, social workers, community leaders, researchers, teachers, parents, children, writers, dancers, singers, and so many more people were there. I wish you could have come. I thought of you. I thought of those of you I know, those of you who have shared your stories with me, and really all of the people who have for some reason been compelled by the topics of these pages to visit, to read, to share.
I met a woman whose family was granted asylum in the Netherlands from the USA. Yup. Really. Her mother lost custody of her children to a violent father and ex-husband. The case was finally over-turned in this country a decade after the fact and years after the family left this country. You can learn more at the website for the documentary film that has been made: “No Way Out But One.” I had the honor of sharing dinner with Jennifer Collins, Garland Waller (who is at Boston University), and Barry Nolan. Jennifer is a poised young woman looking to continue to lead the way in helping victims.
I spent time with members of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence who aim to bring together the expertise of researchers across academic disciplines, professionals who work with victims, perpetrators, survivors, and witnesses to violence, advocates who seek to make the fact of violence real for those who are protected, and leaders in all professions who want to end violence against people and animals. I spent time with people who are committed to ending child maltreatment by advancing education in undergraduate and graduate programs across the country. The goal is to end the events that led to the film, to end the ineffective legal responses to child maltreatment, to end the hopeless cycle that takes children from child protective services directly into juvenile detentions. Victor Vieth has laid out this plan and you can read it yourself. When he gives this talk: it is powerful!
There has been much much more. Last night, I joined many people to listen to stories and songs of love, violence, safe havens, and recovery. We laughed and bobbed along — none of us brave enough to dance. We were together to raise money to support an orphanage in Columia Mexico: Casa San Jose. It is a small effort that provide a haven to a small group of children. Those children give more than we can. They let others into their lives. They let people like Matt and Jennifer Miller, Melissa and Pete Shangu, and Molly and Peter Basket live with them for a time. The children gives us the opportunity to share privileges that we forget are precious. They give us a purpose that is hard to hold on to.
This morning Matt Meyer gave a sermon at the First Church of Somerville. Matt is a Unitarian Universalist, an accomplished percussionist, and leader in racial justice. He called for us to walk in over heads toward our visions of justice and peace.
That gets me to my point: interpersonal violence is something that we all have a role in. Take a few moments: envision your life without violence. What would be different? What will you do to make that happen? What are you doing that prevents violence? Maybe if we walk in over our heads together, we will be okay. I’ll write again soon. I hope to hear from you.