Monday, October 06, 2008

If not for Biden, she (and many other women) may be dead

It is well documented how much of a horrific record John McCain has when it comes to his views and votes and policies towards women. And while some people know about the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden was nearly singlehandedly responsible for drafting and getting passed, the stark contrast between how the two tickets approach issues important to women is not getting nearly enough attention.



Hopefully the following story will help change that.



I will keep the identity of this individual anonymous, but it is the story of someone who I have been corresponding with for the past couple of years on many issues, including voting rights, other political issues and more recently, some personal matters and discussions. She is someone in the progressive community, and has asked if I would help tell her story - a story that could very well have ended with her losing her life as well as her 2 daughters - if it wasn’t for this landmark legislation that Joe Biden was responsible for.



Although Biden’s legislation wasn’t passed until the 1990’s, she is certain that she and her daughters would still be running and hiding from her ex-husband, wondering if they would have the relevant protection from him if not for the provisions contained in the Violence Against Women Act.



I have received copies of the divorce papers, which included a lifetime order of protection, and her story includes a name change, numerous threats with guns and knives and her family’s fleeing 1,000 miles to get away from his stalking. The story includes her being dismissed from her job at a law firm because he was waiting in the lobby for her 2 days after he beat her, and the Firm “didn’t want any trouble”. At the time, there was no law against a husband merely “waiting for his wife”, despite what I am about to share with you. The divorce decree noted that he was guilty “without cause or provocation...of extreme and repeated physical cruelty”, and she “established by competent, material and relevant proof all of the allegations and charges” against him, some of which are noted below.



She was married around 1970, and here is a brief summary of some things that she had to endure before fleeing for her life in 1979 (it is in her exact words, so that is why it is in the first person):



  • One day I tried to defend myself while he was beating me and grabbed a steak knife and threatened him with it. He took it away from me and stabbed me with it. I carry that scar to this day.

  • As he was beating me he would always point his finger in my face and say "I don't try to leave me, because I find you and kill you and the kids."

  • Or Christmas Eve, 1974. I was 3 months pregnant with my 2nd child and his brothers were late for dinner. He beat me and choked me until I passed out. But before that, he threw the christmas tree and all the gifts out the 2nd floor window of our apartment.

  • In 1975, the cops pointed their finger at my husband and basically said we know she's your property, but don't get us called out here again.

  • In 1979, the cops hunted him down, escorted us out of the county when they didn't know where he was, escorted us to the hospital and stood guard the whole time we were there, and a judge signed a warrant for his arrest.

  • In 1979, the DA said it was my word against him that he even HAD a gun, much less tried to kill me and his daughters (4 and 8 yrs. old) because the girls were too young to testify. Even the neighbor child who was spending the night at my house was "too young to testify."


I am putting the rest in blockquotes because it shows how bad it got, and how little was done for years for it to get to this point.



[After moving out and hiding for a few months] one night he broke my door down in a drunken rage at 2:00 in the morning.



And he held us at gunpoint for 2 hours. Simultaneously, he was threatening all 3 of us, pistol whipping me, trying to convince myoldest daughter to come live with him (in his car). At one point, he put the gun in his 3 yr. old daughter's mouth (who was screaming at the top of her lungs on my hips) and told me "shut her up or I will."



When he came in, he threw the phone out the plate glass window, then the sofa.



Finally, I got all 3 kids between him and the only exit out of the apartment. I grabbed their hands and ran out the door and down the stairs. I was headed for the local 7-11 because they were open 24 hours. I figured someone would call the cops for me there.



As we ran down the street - me beaten and bloody - a woman and 3 kids, he got in his car and came up on the sidewalk. He shouted "bye kids" as he gunned it and tried to run us all down.



I ran into an apartment building, locked the door and just started shouting "Help me, someone help me. He's trying to kill us."



He, by the way was stopped by the cops shortly afterwards and was arrested for pulling a gun on the cop. After three days, she had to go back to work, because she had to support the children (he didn’t work for the past few years), and that is where he was “waiting in the lobby” for her. With no domestic violence laws, and despite the arrests, the beatings and everything else, not only was nothing done to stop him from threatening her, but her firm dismissed her (as stated above) because they didn’t “want trouble”.



This is when she fled 1,000 miles away to a city she never lived in, knew nothing about and knew nobody in. Her story has a good ending - she got counseling for the kids, changed their names, enrolled them in school and got a job.



But the hell that she had to endure would have been very different, and many women today would have to endure the same “do nothing until he tries to kill you again” mentality that existed at the time, if it wasn’t for the landmark legislation that Joe Biden was responsible for.



Because of that legislation, there are now shelters that battered women can turn to, there are hotlines and thousands of lawyers available and there is coordination between states and localities with respect to responding to domestic violence and rape - literally hundreds of new laws.



No woman should have to go through what she did. Not even close. Thankfully, she was able to start her life anew - to whatever extent someone that had to deal with years of such severe abuse can “start anew”. But at least she is alive.



It could have ended very differently if she didn’t get lucky and didn’t flee the way she did. And for millions of other women today, they don’t have to endure the living hell that she went through.



Joe Biden is a large reason why.

1 comment:

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