Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going Purple in Recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This is a repost of an entry from last year.

The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in October 1987. During that same year, the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline was initiated. Although we need to be aware and fight against domestic violence all year long, I want to highlight a few things today.

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse presents itself in many forms such as physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological. Domestic violence can occur with people of every gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, and education level.

If you are in an abusive relationship, know that there is help and you are not alone in your struggle. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) provides advocates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist victims, or anyone calling on their behalf, with crisis intervention, safety planning and local referrals. The website,, offers a plethora of information for victims and anyone who suspects their loved one may be in an abusive relationship. Another great resource is the book by Lundy Bancroft titled Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

Below is the piece I wrote that was published in the 2010 Edition of The Purple Poetry Book in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My hope is that you will all be safe.

silent no more

he tried to break me
when I thought I could take no more
he proved he wasn’t done
he wanted to crush me
but I’ma shine through it
I’ma soar above all the bullshit
transcend that tiny bag of tricks
assume responsibility for my life

I got wings, can’t you see?
I’m a survivor
I’m already free
my anger is real and justified
thankfully it’s led me to open my eyes
the secret has been revealed

I now comprehend that it’s all a game
he thought he was winning at hopscotch
him throwing rocks, me jumping in a box
as I open the chess board I realize none of this is personal
we are at war and it’s a shame
but I finally got the rules to this ole game
entitlement, control, manipulation are the moves
acquiescence, keeping the peace is how we lose

I am silent no more
I must speak for my sisters who can’t
because of the bullets in their heads or the knives in their chests
I must speak for my sisters
who are too afraid and have not yet understood
if they don’t walk out, they will be carried out
I must speak for my sisters
who only see the physical
and don’t yet understand the impact of slowly dying
mentally and spiritually
I must speak for my brothers
cause they are overlooked and disbelieved
I must speak for the children
who don’t know any other way
who think this is how life is supposed to be lived
I must speak to a system that perpetuates the torture
that holds us in contempt and does not keep us safe

they say a rose by any other name is still a rose
well abuse by any other name is still abuse
I am silent no more.

Shahmet Gordon © 2010

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reflections on my Family

My Parents
circa 1964

In a previous blog post, I mentioned my current fascination with love. Consistent with that line of thinking, I have been contemplating various aspects of family. Some of the constructive words I ascribed to family in a recent speech included: listen, affirm, encourage, strengthen, responsibility, support, welcome, blessed, love, push & pull, grow, serve. 

The older I get, the more I appreciate the family I was born into. It is crazy to think that my sisters, cousins and I will soon be the elders, but that is the reality as many of our parents have already transitioned to the ancestors. My parents, aunts and uncles laid the foundation that we now stand upon.  As a child I was kind of introverted; as a young adult I was a bit isolated.  I didn’t cultivate close relationships with much of my extended family. However, in recent years, I have been working to turn this around.

At every point in my life, beginning with my biological sisters, I have had girls/women around to encourage me, support me, teach me, set me straight and reflect some aspect of myself (positive or negative) back to me.  I learned what it meant to love, even when we didn't see eye to eye. I now have a connection with a few other women who embody the word sister for me. It may seem trite, but I hold that designation above any other that may reflect on a person’s status or standing in the world. In our youth, sisters help us flesh out our identity and as we age, they continue to be sounding boards that aid in our continued growth.

Being one of three girls, I always wanted a brother.  Observing friends with their brothers gave me the feeling that I was missing out on a special relationship. Fortunately, my sisters chose husbands who accepted me as their baby sis, even prior to the exchange of vows. I have also been attached for several years to a couple of men who fill that role. Through these bonds, I am able to experience that protection, affirmation, and frankness that comes from brothers.  
I had the desire to adopt children when I was in my early twenties. This struck some people as strange when I mentioned it.  Since I already had a child, it was assumed that I didn’t have difficulty conceiving. Why else would anyone want to adopt? I simply had a yearning to share myself with children who were in need, for whatever reason. So imagine my joy now that on top of the two who entered the world through me, I have gathered a few more children. Along with their parents, I offer an alternate point of view, an open heart and, sometimes, a hot meal.

Finally, when I reflect on my family, that which I was born to and that which I helped create, I realize that I am additionally blessed to have ties that defy definitions. Closer than sister, brother, parent or child. Filled with transparency, intimacy and peace; these are the type of unions that the term “ride or die” was made for.

Just my not so random Monday night musings …I truly love my family ... as always, feel free to share your thoughts …