15 February 2007


Today during an art therapy session with the kids at work, we began talking about our names and what they mean. I looked up the meaning of each child’s first and last name. It was interesting to find that they all had powerful names. They loved and were empowered by this activity. When I told them that my last name meant “doorkeeper,” they wanted to know why people had certain last names. So I explained about how what your ancestors did, who their parents were, or where they were born usually determined their last name. I explained that I’d been told when I was young that my ancestors were the keepers of the gate or drawbridge. That it was their responsibility to make sure enemies did not enter the town or castle, depending on where they lived and that this was a very important job. The kids thought it was cool and we talked about the cool things their ancestors probably did based on their names. The volunteer who does the art therapy (an absolutely phenomenal lady) said she found the meaning of my name ironic considering the type of work I do and the level of my commitment to protect battered women. This never occurred to me and I love the parallel. As I was getting ready to leave today, I helped another staff check the premises and to make sure a particular batterer that has been hanging around of late (he’s obviously unaware that his wife is long gone) was nowhere to be seen. I stood in the front of the building with my head high and my body language strong and surveyed the street and the parking lot across the street. I also checked the rearview mirror of my car as I drove home to check for followers. Three days ago I did this fearfully; today I did this as a precaution, but confidently and without fear. I will not be victimized by someone else’s perpetrator. I’ve made a commitment that I will never betray these women, even with a gun to my head. This is what I have to say to that man and others like him.

Dear Coward,

I am writing to tell you that we are not afraid. You see finding her as a victory. We see it as a confirmation of your lack of control. While you fester in your car across the street, we are not intimidated. Unawares, you have given your power away. We know what you look like, the make and model of your car, your license plate number. So do the local police. You never should have exposed yourself to us. We do not fear you. You think your presence so close is formidable and frightening. We are laughing at you. Because you see, she is gone; removed while you lay in bed dreaming dark and dangerous thoughts. By the time you had taken up your wicked vigil, she was beyond your grasp. We will always be one step ahead of you. Our advantage is that we understand the nature of the demon that grips your heart and soul. While you are consumed and blinded, we see it clearly. We study it, shame it; throw light in its eyes. We take women from its grasp and expose it in all its ugliness until it loses its grip; becomes benign and ridiculous. We in turn teach your children to recognize it, understand it and take its power away. While it eats you alive, they are moving forward, finding light and joy and POWER; the thing you crave. We are not afraid of your cowardice. It is our light and joy and goodness that empower us to approach you, heads held high, gaze steady to ask you what the hell business you have here. A simple question. Why do you speed away? We will never fear you; even when you threaten murder. We will never fear you, whether you sit yards away or miles away; stewing in your evil and casting wicked glances our way. We keep this gate and no one enters without our permission.

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