Victim Power!

 

SAAM Ribbon

April is an important month where I work and one that makes me proud to be doing the work that I do. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 19-25.

Today was the day the County Commissioners read a Proclamation recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the ADA (Assistant District Attorney) gave some powerful statements and scenarios I would like to share with you. He urged those in attendance to change the way we view sexual assault. Society’s focus is frequently on the victim–what could the victim have done differently, what was the victim wearing, if the victim was drinking, etc. You get the picture. Following are some of the scenarios he gave:

Scenario #1:  You’re at a football game, standing in line to get a beer and wearing your team’s jersey. Someone comes from behind and tackles you. What if the answer to your call for help was, “Well, you were drinking and wearing your team jersey. What did you expect?”

Scenario #2:  You’re house is burglarized and destroyed, your personal items trashed and thrown around. You have a nice welcome mat on your front porch. The cops are called out to your house, but they respond with, “But you had a welcome mat outside your door. You invited this.”

Scenario #3:  You’re in a diner having coffee with a friend and engaged in good conversation. The waitress comes over and asks if you would like more coffee. You tell her, yes, you would like more and engage in conversation with her while she pours the coffee until it’s overflowing, dumping scalding hot coffee all over your lap. You jump up and complain, but the manager says, “I’m sorry, but you weren’t clear enough on when you wanted her to stop.”

As one who has been a victim of sexual assault, these scenarios empowered me and gave me a sense of victory. And for one who works with victims of crime, they gave me pride to be doing the work I do. We can rise above our circumstances and life events. Tragedy doesn’t have to beat us down, but rather we can use it to shape and change the world in which we live. As a society, let’s change how we view crime and stop victim blaming. Change begins with just one. Won’t you be that one?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale

Celebrate Life

Celebrate...

For too many years I’ve stepped into the month of July somewhat reluctantly, and raced to the finish line when it came close to being over, eagerly welcoming August, holding my breath, hoping an unwanted phone call wouldn’t slide in at 11:59 p.m. on July 31st.

July 3rd marked an anniversary of being a victim of a crime that changed my life forever.  Changed the way I saw things and viewed the world in general.  Despite it being a long time ago, it has shaped my life to this day.

July 14th marks the 4th anniversary that we lost our family dog of thirteen years.  In his last moments we lay in the grass in the back yard, him fighting for every breath, me making sure he was taking each breath.  Until he breathed his last the moment I lay him down to leave for just a moment. DSC00036

July 16th marks eight years since I lost my stepdaughter, Becky, who was also one of my dearest friends, in a tragic event.  An event that hangs over me like a black cloud of sadness and anxiety.  And even guilt.  In fact, a lot of guilt.

July 29th marks seven years since I got the phone call while at a Rockies baseball game that my 17-year-old son had an accident at the city pool and was en route to the hospital with a head injury.

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A lot of anniversaries that are not cause for celebration.

But as time travels on, I’ve been able to look at it this year as a reason to celebrate life.  The lives tied to each of these anniversaries have blessed my life beyond words.  To celebrate what they have added to my life, and to celebrate the lives of those I love who are still in my life.

July 3rd? A reason to celebrate turning victimization into being a survivor.  To honor that by helping other victims walk the path that crosses over to being a survivor, reclaiming their lives.  To forgive so that I no longer give my power to the attacker, but take back that power and use it for good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28 (NIV)

July 14th I can celebrate the memory of a family dog who helped my boys and me with many transitions from moving to another state to offering comfort during a painful divorce.  And I can celebrate our pound puppy, Roxie, who was nearing the end of her stay at the shelter and the joy she brings.

Jenny & BeckyJuly 16th I can celebrate the beautiful woman who was my stepdaughter.  Who taught me true beauty comes from within.  Who’s glitter and smile lit up a room before she even walked in.  I can thank God for bringing us together to share our lives for the time we did have together and be so incredibly grateful that we will be together again someday because of my Jesus who made that possible.  God made me a very rich woman the day he brought her into my life.

July 29th I will celebrate the fact that my son is still with us.  Healthy, happy and whole.  I will cherish his life and the lives of each and every member of my family.  And I thank God for keeping him here with me.  I will hold them closer and take that moment from feeling like I have to DO something and just BE with them.  Every single day is a blessing, for we don’t know what tomorrow holds.

Only because of the grace of God, I have the desire to turn July from a month of mourning to a month of celebration.  A time of gratitude for this amazing life I’ve been given.  For every person who has seasoned my life to perfection along the way.DSC00716

Instead of mourning what I no longer have or what I nearly lost, I will celebrate what I was so blessed to have and the life I still have.   Amen? Amen!

All is Grace.