A Day to Remember
I’ve always been sensitive to the needs and concerns of others. I make it point to display a huge amount of compassion to those that are less fortunate and especially those that are involved in less than ideal situations. October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. This issue is particularly close to my heart due to the fact that I was a victim of domestic abuse in my late teens. While I am blessed to have had the opportunity to escape the vile situation that I was in, my heart aches for those that have to endure this abuse on a regular basis. I have read countless stories about women that were killed or critically injured at the hands of someone who claims that they loved them. I have watched the movies of women fleeing their homes in the middle of the night with their children and belongings in tow. Having said that, I had no idea that the unexpected events of October 11, 2010 would resonate in my spirit the way that it did. It catapulted me into action.
Last week, I made breakfast plans with a Ms. Debra Bowles. I had not seen her in a while and I was eager to break bread with her and enjoy her company and conversation. Ms. Debra is truly a one-of-a-kind woman. She has a heart and passion for women that are suffering from domestic abuse and you can see it in everything that she does. We scheduled a breakfast date for the Cracker Barrel in Desoto at 10:00am. This gave me enough time to see my husband and children off in addition to doing a little housework around the home. I arrived at the intended destination about 5 minutes prior to our meeting time, and I spent time in the shop looking at little trinkets to pass time. A few minutes later, I greeted Ms. Debra, who was obviously preoccupied and we were seated by the hostess. She began to explain the crisis that a young lady with 2 very young children was in. She informed me that Shatavia had been calling her since that morning due to an altercation that occurred with a relative. She was currently sitting outside with her belongings and her 2 young children with no place to go.
Ms. Debra asked me if I minded accompanying her to go and get the young lady so that her children would not be on the streets. I emphatically told her “No” and we abruptly left the restaurant. While in the parking lot, we both prayed for guidance and while she was on the phone trying to make contact with agencies, I called a social worker friend to ask her about resources. While I was on the phone, I looked down at the ground and there was a $20.00 bill! Some may call that a coincidence, but we called that provision from God! As we traveled to Shatavia’s destination, Ms. Debra filled me in on the situation with Shatavia.
Apparently, she and her children have been living from pillar to post, and Shatavia had gotten into trouble due to stealing. She thought that she had to steal in order to provide for her children. That morning, her grandmother had pulled a gun on her after Shatavia had taken her car without permission and had an accident. This incident happened early on this morning in front of her children. Ms. Debra also informed me that Shatavia had suffered abuse from the hands of close friends and family members since the age of 5. My heart broke as she spoke and I continued to pray for direction and guidance. Ms. Debra was able to get in touch with the wife of the pastor of a local church and as she spoke with the First Lady, she began to get emotional and cry while she explained the plight of the young lady. The First Lady indicated that she had an appointment at that time, but agreed that something needed to be done and vowed to call her back.
As we pulled up to the destination, Ms. Debra regained her composure, so she could be a source of strength for Shatavia and her children. Shatavia cried at the sight of Ms. Debra and they immediately began to load her belongings into Ms. Debra’s vehicle while I recorded the events. While Ms. Debra and Shatavia quickly tried to gather her belongings and keep the children calm, Shatavia’s grandmother accosted Shatavia and demanded that she come inside to “fix the TV”. Ms. Debra calmly tried to diffuse the situation by telling the elderly woman that they just wanted to get the children situated, but the grandmother was adamant about Shatavia coming inside the apartment to “fix the TV, right now!” After a few minutes of this exchange, Shatavia went inside of the apartment while I tended to the children and Ms. Debra called the police to document the situation. While Shatavia sat in the back seat, Ms. Debra gave me a plastic container to for me to hold as we hurriedly left the premises before any further incidences occurred.
At this point, Ms. Debra decided to go to the local church that had assisted Shatavia with a hotel room for a week, so that one of the ministers could actually witness the situation first hand. On route to the church, Shatavia cried and cried as she relived the past day’s events and the lifelong abuse that suffered at the hands of those closest to her. We arrived at the church and Ms. Debra phoned a minister and asked that he step outside into the parking lot for a few moments. While Ms. Debra explained the situation that occurred, I tried to keep Shatavia and her children calm, while calmly telling her that she did not deserve to be treated in this manner regardless of what her actions were. I was shocked that the minister did not offer any advice or counsel and just helplessly stood there looking at the young lady and her children. I expected more compassion and action from a man of the cloth.
After leaving the local church, Ms. Debra drove to Methodist Charlton Hospital to speak with police officers regarding the incident. Shatavia tearfully explained the situation to the police officer, who exercised a great deal of compassion and sensitivity while listening to her story and eliciting information. While Ms. Debra and the police officers discussed options, Shatavia tearfully asked me if she was going to jail. At that moment, her 2 year old child also asked her mother if they were going to jail which caused Shatavia to break down even more. I comforted them and attempted to keep them calm while the events were discussed with the police. After about 30 minutes, we left the hospital, and headed towards the Hilton in Duncanville. While Ms. Debra obtained a room for Shatavia, I helped her to unload her belongings on to the cart. Ms. Debra got Shatavia and her family situated into a hotel room, and we left the hotel to get some food, clothes and toiletries.
We stopped by Ms. Debra’s home to get some items for Shatavia which included clothing, toiletries, a stroller and toys for the babies. She wanted to make sure that Shatavia and her children were in a comfortable and safe environment with no distractions and no drama. We went to a restaurant to get a family meal and then to the store to pick up some additional items. We brought the items up to Shatavia’s room and hugged her and told her that we loved her. We prayed with her and her children for about 30 minutes. Ms. Debra instructed Shatavia and her children to get some rest and we left them there sleeping peacefully.
As we left the hotel, there was a sense of peace that we had, although I knew that Ms. Debra’s work was not done. I knew that she would continue to work tirelessly to ensure Shatavia’s safety and well being. I made a vow to make myself available to her as well and to assist in finding resources. As I left Ms. Debra and headed home, I thanked God for allowing me to experience what Ms. Debra does on a daily basis and made it a point to become more involved from that day forward. I experienced first hand that we can discuss this matter all day long, but it is the action and the ability to actually DO SOMETHING that counts. What an unexpected day of events that will continue to stay etched in my memory.
A Day to Remember
Posted on July 1st, 2011
Posted in TELL US WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND Tagged with no tags
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