In our lifetimes, almost 30 percent of women will find ourselves the victim of domestic violence. While that statistic is unnerving, it calls to light the fact that every day when we're at work, in class, dropping our kids off at school, in a meeting, at a movie, we're there alongside women who have persevered and decided to stand up after someone tried to bring them down.
This morning I received a call that no one wants to get. One of our Benevolent team members was calling to let me know that she'd been physically attacked on Saturday night by someone who was supposed to love her. She'd fought free, run, and found help and safety, but not before she'd been significantly hurt. This Benevolent team member is like all women: she'd been in situations where she felt unsafe, and she'd made choices to protect herself when she needed to. Like all of us. But what happened to her on Saturday night tipped her over to the other side. The side on which almost a third of women in America stand, the side of those who have been attacked, assaulted or abused by someone who was supposed to love them.
Every time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women. - Maya Angelou
My colleague has encouraged me to share this episode. She wants us to learn and grow from her circumstance.
She is a woman who is absolutely 100 percent unwilling to be a victim. She had spent Sunday getting medical attention and today she was doing what needed to be done. She made sure her daughter got off to preschool, informed her boss and co-workers that she'd be out for some of the day, and then headed off to the courthouse to file the necessary papers to protect herself and her daughter and to reinforce the charges she'd filed the night of the attack.
Here on her team back at work, we find ourselves inspired and awed by our co-worker's strength and the fervor with which she's standing up.
Benevolent stands with those who need us. We stand for dignity and for forging one's own path, even in the face of daunting challenges. Many of the women we help through Benevolent report that they've been in situations of domestic violence. For them, these situations are compounded by poverty. Our team member has a car, a home, a support system, and a job that will be here throughout. Many who experience violence like this have to dust themselves off and show up at work the next morning as though nothing has happened. Can't take time off to go to the courthouse because they would risk losing their jobs.
Violence on the part of loved ones doesn't know boundaries. It can erupt when we least expect it and we all need to be ready to stand up and believe in ourselves, or in the person who needs us, when it does.
We plan to remember this day, June 2, on our team on a yearly basis in honor of standing up to domestic violence, heading to court, heading back into life, rallying friends and family, and stating clearly that this sort of violence has no place in our lives.