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Tension building across the country, victims of violence want answers...

Posted Oct 02 2009 3:07pm

Over the last week, many domestic violence victims and survivors have been phoning the White House, asking to speak with newly appointed, Lynn Rosenthal. Although I did not directly speak with Ms. Rosenthal, I did send her a letter and did leave a comment at the White House about the flaws I see in so many domestic violence programs and organizations and I left suggestions to tackle these flaws. As a survivor of brutal domestic violence, I can only imagine what kinds of words were exchanged, what kinds of complaints were made, and what kinds of suggestions were offered to Ms. Rosenthal in regards to the lack of response to domestic violence across the country. I can only imagine what kinds of excuses were made, what kinds of words were exchanged, and what kind of rhetoric was communicated to victims and survivors by Lynn Rosenthal. No, I don't have to be an expert on domestic violence to know how these conversations go, to understand the robotic dialogue exchanged from DV worker to victim. Unfortunately for me, I've been in this game for too long, I've spoken with too many people in power, and I can say that this country is not yet prepared to actually help domestic violence victims, maybe some, but not all--not the majority. We live in different states, with different laws, with different programs and organizations for domestic violence--and yet we all have the same problem, many of us are not getting help from the very organizations/programs that offer assistance. I've been writing about this issue for almost 8 months, and I still haven't been able to get the simplest of assistance from any DV program.

Over the last few weeks, I have had conversations with fellow survivors. We agreed that the "wild goose chase" we are all on because of DV organizations and state programs has actually overshadowed the actual abuse itself. Personally, I am so worried about getting the assistance that I need, about filling out paperwork, about Crime Victims Board requests, about court, about the lack of follow up from the state, that I have actually buried my soul in the process and have forgotten the reason why I'm here, why I write, why I'm fighting for change in my own state. I'm here, I write, I'm fighting for change for those who can't, for those who are too weak from suffering, too afraid to demand assistance, too afraid of retaliation. It takes courage to even admit to being a victim of domestic violence, to admit that someone put you in an emergency room, to admit that your bones are now riddled with screws because someone else broke them...yes, this is the reason why I write.

Sadly, my writing has turned into nothing but a cry for help to the very organizations that are designed to help. Sadly, only the strongest survive this game we are all playing, this game that seems to be set up for victims of domestic violence. Many of us can't bury our souls, can't get over the abuse, can't physically handle the demands put in place by our state programs and agencies, and many give up and stop playing the game--fall through the cracks and never get assistance. I am not one of those people, I will persist and make phone calls and write letters and fight for those who can't until I get through to someone, if not for me, for those who slip through the many cracks set up in the system. I realize this is a sensitive issue, one that is getting quite a bit of attention, and it is being led by victims that are being ignored and not getting the assistance that they deserve. I am one of those victims. I don't have all of the answers, but I have suggestions along with my complaints, and I voice all of them. I have been starring this problem in the face for one year, and I'm not talking about the abuse, I'm referring to the lack of response from DV Coalitions, programs, and agencies. I am quickly realizing that there are two major problems victims of this crime must be prepared to deal with, getting over the abuse fast and then mainly dealing with the lack of response from DV institutions.

Below are some comments from victims that were left on various sites about their conversations with Ms. Rosenthal in the White house this past week...

"Conversation with Lynn Rosenthal...
I wanted to share my experience with Lynn Rosenthal, recently appointed White House Adviser on Violence Against Women. I was thankful of the accessibility of Ms. Rosenthal. What disappointed me is her apparent lack of authority. As she so clearly worded in our initial introductions, "I can do nothing to help you in your situation. The Vice President is very concerned on this topic and I will relay your situation to him". My stomach did a flip, once again someone was placed in a position of authority but given no power to change things. If justice reform does not start at the heart of the judicial system (the Federal Government) then where does it? More importantly who has authority? Ms. Rosenthal is in a position where reform should start- instead she is a receptionist that seems to be saying "The person you reached does not answer. I will be glad to pass on a message". She appears to be nothing more than another bureaucrat with the best of intentions, just beginning to realize that she cannot help.
We are residents of states, but in the end we are citizens of the United States of America and by obligation the Federal Government should serve, protect, and defend us. When it refuses where do we turn? Apparently if we are women, children, and victims we have nowhere to turn. We are left to be re victimized not only by the abuser but by the very system our forefathers created to protect us.
Ms. Rosenthal, thank you for listening but our country's women and children are dying at epidemic proportions and they-we need your help".

"I spoke with Lynn Rosenthal earlier this week and was VERY disappointed with her lack of response. She gave me nothing but politically correct answers. If the one person in a position to make change isn't passionate about this serious issue, how will she be able to bring about the changes needed.

I have been a victim of domestic violence and have experienced first hand how the local, state and national agencies have dropped the ball. I have NOT had my needs met. I am still in danger. I live in fear everyday... always wondering, "Will today be the day he shows up?"

I'd like to ask Obama, "If this were happening to your daughter, what would you want done?"
Would you want her to be treated with respect? Would you want her sent on a wild goose chase only to get no help from the agencies that say they are helping victims?

There are experts in this subject. No, we may not have fancy titles, or degrees from major universities, but we are more knowledgeable than many of your so called "experts".

If you want to know the right answers - call upon us. The ones who have lived in fear. The ones who have been beaten almost to death. The ones who have fought the system for very basic rights. Those of us who refuse to be silenced by our abusers.
Who do I mean by us? SURVIVORS.
We don't have all the answers but we can point you in the right direction.

And for the record, we are tax paying, voting citizens of the USA.

You can contact me anytime.

Silent no more".

Heather Thompson
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