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It is time to share some of what has kept me busy since last summer and part of the reason why I haven't had time to post. Sharon Holmes has moved in to live with me. My daughter gave up her room so she could be comfortable. Sharon has been sick you see, and this day was a good day.
Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers..... No matter what the past, when you are sick and have no one you do the right thing.
All your best wishes are well received.
Last month was an eye opener. I attended my very first National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference (NCADV) in Atlanta. It was an intense five days of workshops, pleanaries, networking and caucus events. It has been a long time since I have told my story to so many people in one short time period. I think the last time was to the police those many years ago. It was also overwhelming to hear other women's stories. Terrible accounts of being stabbed, shot, children murdered before their eyes, neighbors murdered who tried to jump in to rescue.....and the list goes on. I know I had seen many of the attendees on shows like Oprah, but they were not there to talk about any kind of ill won fame. They were there to share their experience and offer inspiration and education. Attendees filtered off into groups that they identified with and when I looked around for the place that I would fit in, a group that I never thought in my life I would feel like a member of had their door open and waiting for me -The Battered and Formerly Battered. Why I never thought myself a part of "them", well, there are probably still many reasons, but I walked through the large double doors anyway and looked at the number I had been assigned - table number 4 - and sat down. Immediately I knew I belonged. Sweet, kind, caring women from all walks of life and at every stage of healing from their abuse shared with each other their experience, strength and hope. We got creative and we listened. When one of us broke down to cry, we offered an unparalled shoulder of understanding and cried together. We reinvented the wheel (the Power and Control wheel) and taught each other about diversity and new respect. And at the end we issued a statement of union. It is posted on the NCADV website (NCADV.org) and it goes like this:
In order for the domestic violence movement to facilitate effective and positive social change in our society, it is imperative that Battered and Formerly Battered Women have a clear presence and a loud voice to direct and guide this movement. We have a commitment to provide compassionate, respectful support to the women we serve. As a movement, it is in our best interest to consider survivors wealth of knowledge and resources, as well as represent those who have been silenced.
As Battered and Formerly Battered Women we fight against the stereotypes dominant culture forces on us. Then, we turn to the Battered Womens Movement that purports to validate and support us to find we must continue to struggle and educate. We refuse to have our experiences, reactions and our history pathologies. We will not be defined as having a psychological malady that caused, created, or attracted abuse to us and to our lives. We will not be defined as having a psychological malady because we have been battered.
The Battered and Formerly Battered Womens Caucus of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence call upon all Battered Womans Projects, Organizations and Workers to stop using clinical language, and mental health/social work models in their work with Battered Women and Children. These approaches were embraced to gain respect and support for the battered womens movement, but they have failed to do so. While this approach may have gained respect and financial advantage for some battered womens workers, this language has done so at a cost of revictimizing, disrespecting and demeaning Battered Women. It has also inadvertently aided batterers using institutional systems to persecute Battered Women, in areas such as child custody proceedings.
The Battered and Formerly Battered Womens Caucus of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence call upon all Battered Womans Projects, Organizations and Workers to recognize that it is your day-to-day advocacy and interaction with Battered Women and children that create social change. Focusing on mental health/social work models that promote the idea that Battered Women need treatment distracts from our most immediate work and deepest belief: the needs she brings to us for safety, support and justice and her inherent autonomy to direct her life and define her identity.
The Battered and Formerly Battered Womens Caucus of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence call upon researchers and academics within the movement to make their primary focus the cultural and systemic basis of abuse to women and children. We challenge researchers and academics to step up as partners in promoting social change to end battering and sexual assault. We also challenge them to reevaluate current practice that focuses on the outcomes of such research that concentrates on creating and perpetuating the concept of domestic violence as individual psychopathology and/or as caused by alcohol/drug abuse. We recognize past research has increased funding and validity for some; however, we believe the interpretation and implementation of such findings has aided in the suffering and death of the very individuals the research was intended to serve Battered Women and Children. ____________________________________________
I stood at the end of five days and made myself known as one who was formerly battered and was making a commitment to use my experience and knowledge - my voice - to help stop the violence against women.
Last Friday evening, my local university's Womens Center held a "Take Back the Night" rally at our town square. Along with another wonderful presenter, I was asked to speak. So below is what I threw together on that day to share with the audience. I kept in my favorite quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. and message of awareness here as I had written into my presentation at the Soup Supper because I believe so much that we all need to be reminded that we can help. I thought I would share it with you. Peace, Dawn
Hello my name is Dawn and I am a survivor of violence.
When I heard there would be a Take Back the Night March and I was asked if I might want to share part of my experience as a survivor, my first thought was where do I begin?
Out of a mind numbing litany of painful days from six years of an abusive past -- one day in particular -- one 24 hour period -- jumped clearly to the forefront of mind. It was what I call my worst day and my darkest night.
At the height of abuse in a relationship that started when I was fifteen and my abuser thirty two, I sat one evening in a dilapidated motel room with my boyfriend and watched with mounting dread as he drained the last drop of cocaine out of an exhausted pipe. I knew he was about to snap and he would do what had become a sick and twisted pattern he would lash out, punch me, hit me, slap me, pin me down in any cruel way he could and rape me to vent his rage. I began to cower as his lip curled and his bood-shot glare shot daggers of hate in my direction. He leapt up from his chair to grab me, and I made a mad dash for the door. I didnt make it and a struggle ensued. But this time it was different. This time his hands slipped and I miraculously was able to make a second try for the door and race out into the night.
Wearing only my night shirt and slippers I bound across a busy intersection and into a local convenience store, begging for help from anyone as I hid behind the store clerk. Nobody knew what to do with me. A young frightened couple agreed to take me somewhere safe after having seen my boyfriend lurking outside, but the only address I had was a long shot, a friend, who my boyfriend had long ago distanced me from. It was the only place I hoped I could go and spend a safe night.
The couple let me off on the street in front of my friends house and drove off, not waiting to see if I would find safety, only glad to be relieved of the responsibility of me. I approached her door, held my breath and knocked -- then knocked again -- then knocked again. There was no answer -- and in the frozen fog of an early December morning, I shivered on the porch and cried.
After what seemed liked hours I gave in to the hopelessness and rejection of that closed door and made my way to the street to hitch hike back to my abuser. May be he would be sleeping. I could just sneak in and get warm, I told myself desperate to be somewhere off of the streets.
I did get a ride. Almost right away and for an instant I felt lucky. It took less than five minutes before the drivers hand was at my throat. Im going to kill you bitch he growled as he squeezed harder and drove far into the upper desert.
I cried and begged him not to hurt me. He told me to shut up. I plead some more and then I bargained. Please mister, Ill do anything you want, please, just dont kill me. He smiled and kept driving. At a desolate stretch of the highway he slowed down. I then took what was my only chance at survival and jumped out of the moving car. Bloody and bruised I ran towards a nearby onramp, flagging wildly at every vehicle that passed. To my great relief another couple, older this time, pulled over and let me in. I thanked them and breathlessly asked to be taken to the police.
The police systematically took down my story and checked my wounds. I had lost my slippers and tore my nightgown in the fall and was given a blanket to stay my shivering. Daylight crept in on us and I thought how this morning could have been so much different. I could have been lying on the side of the freeway, a rape and murder victim. When the police finished, they asked if they could take me to someones home perhaps back to my boyfriends.
I didnt understand. Why would they want to take me to him? I told them he hurt me. But I didnt say a word and exhausted I allowed myself to be driven back to my abuser.
He greeted us at the door and thanked the police for bringing me home to him. He put his arm around me and lovingly guided me inside, smiling and waving goodbye to the officers until the door was shut and they were gone. Then he turned to me and proceeded to savagely beat me, leaving me broken, bloody and alone for days.
In looking back, I dont know how I could be alive. I was a girl in a deadly relationship, who thought when she finally had the courage and opportunity to break away from her abuser she would be free and find help.
I wanted to shout please help me. I wanted someone to reach out to me and know what to do. I wanted someone to see me, see that I was in trouble and that I had been hurt. I wanted someone to be there with an answer, a solution, a number, a place anything.
But that wasnt the case. Instead it was a night where nearly every turn I made was more rejection and brutal assault.
If you are a victim or feel you are being victimized. If you know of someone who is or might be in danger, I URGE you to contact the womens center on campus or Shelter from the Storm and speak to someone who can help. We have numbers here at the table and flyers are being passed out. There are a broad range of services available for whatever stage of assistance you may need.
Lets educate ourselves. We can offer help. Real help. Please, dont let someone slip through the cracks because you didnt know they were reaching out.
I believe that we all have the ability to speak out against violence. We can all be the eyes, ears and temporary voice for someone who is in trouble. We CAN all be aware.
Before I go, Id like to make a shout out to my daughter. I want to tell her I adore her and think she is amazing.
Id like to end with a great quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
Thank you. And. Peace.
Hello everyone and thanks for waiting for me to post about my trip to New York. Here are a few amazing photos of an event I will remember for a lifetime.
This is the place. Rockafeller Center, Times Square...The Rainbow Room.
Here I am graced by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics.
Then doubly graced by Eunice and her sister Patricia Kennedy Lawson.
Here is Benjamin Bratt with Earnestine and Hope, both Volvo For Life Recipients from the previous years.
I'm happy to share these with you, dear readers, if only to show you that even if you have been at the bottom of life, it is possible to get up, dust yourself off and stand tall.
Blessings to you all,
I am very grateful to those of you who are being so patient for news of my book and appreciate everyone of you. I never thought in the beginning that it would take this long, but I also knew nothing about the publishing business. Although there is little I can do to expedite things, I want you all to know that I have been diligent with my efforts, never giving up or dropping the ball. Every rewrite or new write, that my agent has requested, I have gathered my strength, wits, and friends in order to complete her request, no matter how painful. I have my writing critiqued regularly by my local university professors and other writers in my area. I expand my knowledge of the hard truth of abuse by volunteering at my local shelter and being pro active in my community about the cause. I try to take care of myself, so that I am truly able to send a message of hope.
By living my life not only as a survivor, but as someone who no matter what curve balls life throws at me, doesn't ever become a victim again, takes some practice and a lot of help. As some of you may have read by my recent posts, I have had some personal struggles lately. But I am not down. Thanks to many acts of kindness and love sent my way amazing things are happening and doors are opening. In particular, I want to give a shout out to a wonderful woman, an advocate, Sally Anthony, who is an amazing singer with a heart of gold. Her willingness to stand up and speak out for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault is truly inspiring. Thanks Sally, and I hope to be helping you raise awareness soon.
The wonderful thing is that word of mouth is growing strong and miraculously the book is gaining support.
This is a picture of a missing teacher from Georgia. Her friends have asked me to please post this message and I am happy to help. If you or anyone has any information regarding Tara Grinstead, please contact the email in the message below.
I am a teacher in South Georgia, and a teacher in my school (Tara Grinstead) is missing. She has been missing for a month (Oct. 22). We are trying to get her picture and information out so maybe someone in the United States will recognize her and let us know if she is still alive. She is very well respected in Ocilla, GA and her hometown of Hawkinsville, GA. and we will love for her to come home. If you are interested in helping us find Tara, email me at angieregister (at) hotmail.com.
Thanks you so much Dawn!!! Angie Register
Please help us!!!!!
Checking in with everyone of you who so faithfully come to read here and let you know I am okay....barely. I have run out of energy. Too many projects, difficult writing and unexpected emotional turmoil lately to find the energy to write a coherent post here. My apologies. I'm keeping the faith though, there is no doubt of that, but it has been a tough few weeks for me. A dear friend offered a wonderful weekend at his ranch in New Mexico last weekend and my daughter and I gratefully accepted. We had our own cottage on the river, beneath the majestic rocks and spent the days meditating and riding horses. It was so wonderful, like stepping into a warm, scented bathtub that washed all troubles away. Hard to come back, but at least now I know I am still breathing...and will continue to....no matter the heart aches, no matter the disappointments, no matter the..... Be well friends. I will try to do the same.
If I told you I have been busy, you may think, "what the hell, we are all busy!" So let me steal a second of my precious little time to say I sincerely believe my agent comes from hell. (Yes, I hope she reads this.) She wants more..... More detail, thoughts, visions, senses, feelings, smells, sounds and any other sensations. More, more, more. Damn it. Doesn't she know that I'm already ripping every shred of memory out from my roots. It hurts...and I just want her to tell me enough, "This is good Dawn, they will love it!"
To be honest, I really only want them to say, "Oh. I see. Interesting." Or something similar to acceptance of the damn reality of the events. But NOOOOOO! Publishers want it all, I'm told. Argh. This is hard.
I have the hotline again this weekend. Last weekend the domestic violence calls just wouldn't stop. Women in serious crisis, all needing real help; crying, unable to breath or think. They didn't know what to do and their legs were cramping and they didn't understand why. Why was this happening to them? "It's not you," I told them. "Nobody has the right to hit you. No matter what. Nobody! You deserve a good life. To be treated well." The sad part is that they didn't follow through. They never showed up for help on Monday to go to the safe house or get the restraining order. Damn. I know this made it harder for me to write deeper, like my agent wanted, about my own experience with John Holmes. Much harder.
For all of you who have been so patient for my book, here is the latest update. I have been overhauling the book as it had been written, by my agent's instruction. She is tough. It seems it will not be released by late this year or early next. It is now in the hands of my agent and when she feels it will be ready to take to a publisher. "Soon, Dawn. It will be soon," she tells me. But in agent-ese I'm really not sure what this means. I hope most of you can hold on, and if you can't, I understand. Right ab0ut now, I'm not sure how I'm holding on with all of the rewrites she wants.
God, I hope the hotline doesn't ring again today,
Alright, I'm back. After being tagged by a an extremely bizarre person for the past ten plus months, I have decided to firm up my resolve and not be intimidated by the insanity of one sick individual anymore. To fill most of you in, a woman, (who shall remain nameless), made claims to have been involved, (hidden in the closet), during the Wonderland murders. She asserted also that many other events took place that coincidentally rang parallel to what I experienced with John Holmes. Originally, she made these claims on another message board, stirring up a small group of posters who took it upon themselves to ask me, here on this site, to help her as a fellow survivor. I was compelled, yet what I knew of her story was extremely suspicious and my instincts warned me to stay clear of her and the "demands" to help her. In time, her story grew in unbelievability as I discovered her feigning to be a sweet blogger who loves basset hounds, the Navy and anything else my mother loved and wrote about on her own personal blog site. A site that has nothing to do with anything except family. This was an absolute invasion and insult to me.
I'm here to say I'm glad I listened to my instincts. Due to some wonderful investigative journalists and private investigators, everything this woman said to anyone, (and under every name she hid behind), was documented, researched and tracked. I am pleased to say this person has been exposed as a fraud. The facts revealed that she is a severely disturbed person with a history of placing herself into crime scenes and suffering from multiple personality disorders. This Wonderland story, it turns out, was just another place she was trying to make home. My sincere thanks to those who took her on and brought the truth to light. If you wish to read more on this story, I would direct you to the new link on this blog at www.8763wonderland.com. You may also find more information on the Wonderland gang and court hearings at this site by Rodger Jacobs.
So, friends. After a long spell of not really knowing who was a visitor with true intent on this site or a false presenter, I am now donning the war cry of Londoners and the world with respect to terrorism and coming back to post here without fear. This has indeed been the strangest of times.
Peace and blessings to all.
This evening marks the 24th anniversary since the Wonderland murders. On this night, those many years ago, it would be the last evening four of the five people would ever spend here on earth. Everything was going to be great according to John when he left to go out that night, but we all know it didn't turn out that way. Those four people never woke to see the sunrise again. All for what? A high? I spoke to Sharon, to let her know I love her and hope she can sleep tonight. "I'll be fine", she tells me. But she can never sleep on this night, so I know she'll be anything but fine. She will always be disgusted at the way John was involved, how he played a part in murder.
Thanks to Laura who made a comment here about how important it is to remember that the Wonderland gang, although very disturbed, were people too. That not only were their lives lost, but their families have had to endure terrible pain.
To Susan Launius who was left with the terrible wreckage of tragedy, may a world full of peace and blessings be yours.
Hello Everyone, Just a quick note to tell you that after a long wait my friend, Val Kilmer, has officially opened his website to the public. Congratulations Val. It looks awesome!
Check it out at www.valkilmer.com, and if you are in London, go see him in The Postman Always Rings Twice. I wish I could, it has got to be great.
I love Sundays. Especially Sundays in spring. Nothing is better than stepping out into my garden with a cup of coffee in the morning, lounging on the canoped swing in my pajamas, and taking count of the flowers returning since I last saw them in the fall. My Clematis is going to be an explosion of purple on my back fence, and a small transplanted pink rose bush that hasn't flowered in two years is covered with tiny buds.The weeds are taller than usual too this year, so I slip on some flip flops and start pulling the dandilions before my daughter sees them and decides to blow wishes all over the yard. (She calls them wish fairy blossoms. Need I say more?) After pulling a few of the bigger weeds, I saunter back over to the swing and the shade for another pull of my coffee and an easy sigh at the beauty around me. "What a great day", I think contently as I stick my toes out into a patch of warm sunlight and take in the green of the surrounding hills. It is a Sunday among nature in my small backyard, when all feels right in the world and you know, without a doubt, that it is good.
God, I love Sunday mornings in spring.
Went to a funeral today. What a sad thing. A friend, a gentle soul, passed away last Thursday. The chapel was packed, and not a dry eye in the house when a guitar solo played "Tears in Heaven", by Eric Clapton. A biker with the name "Deacon" sewn on his leather vest presided over the service, but only after his sister got up to read a letter she had written to the little brother she lost and tell him how heartbroken she was that he could never overcome his addiction. "Not a mean bone in his body", people shared at the end of the service, and "He always told you he loved you, even if you didn't feel like anyone cared". A sweet, kind man in his forties who battled with drugs and alcohol...and lost. Some came drunk or loaded, but most didn't. They came clean and sober, taking in the full impact of where drugs and alcohol can lead them if they didn't take it seriously. I couldn't help thinking about John and the lives lost at the Wonderland house...not to mention a few others that were close to me and died after those years in LA. It is real, it is never pretty and it is always permanent.
I know my friend tried his best all the way up to the end. It was just too tough for him. I remember his eyes. Deep inside I always saw how hard he tried to stay clean. I hope he doesn't have to struggle anymore. I hope he is at peace.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month!
April -- Sexual Assualt Awareness Month.
Dear All, This poem is among the inspirational writings I keep close to me at all times. I have been meaning to post it, but have been busy with other things. Thanks to Charlotte for reminding me about posting this beautiful poem.
ANYWAY....by Mother Teresa
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some genuine enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world your best anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.
After major surgery, our Chihuahua, Tinkerbelle, recuperates at home. With stitches down her belly and a nearly toothless grin, my daughter can't resist giving her the love she needs to heal by setting her up comfortably on her favorite quilt. I have always had Chihuahuas. After Thor, (my first that John and Sharon Holmes gave me), there has been Spike and today, my eleven year old girl, Tinkerbelle. "I'm afraid her tongue will hang out on the side from now on," the vet tells me. I don't care. It makes her more endearing to me, which is almost impossible seeing I have unlimited love for her and these tiny-large creatures called Chihuahuas.
Thor saved my life...many times over. The horrors that surrounded me back in the days of "John" were magnified 100 fold in his little eyes, yet he stood brave and resilient, ever faithful and ever protective of me. This may sound trite or silly to some, but in the world of hopelessness that I was in, Thor, a tiny Chihuahua, was responsible for giving me that one reason, that one connection to love that gave me the strength to get up again. Forever in my heart as an angel in disguise, I continue to honor Thor by taking care of our Tinkerbelle. Who, by the way, has the AKC registered name of "Thor's Fairy Princess - Tinkerbelle"
Just finished my first all-nighter with the hotline phone from the Shelter and I didn't sleep a wink. No the phone didn't ring, which is a good thing, but just the thought that it might kept me from dropping off into blissful rest. Although it is normal, I didn't think I would act this way. Answering the phone at the Shelter is completely different than having it next to your bed. I asked my husband to come get me should it ring while I was in the shower and he quickly responded, "take in there with you!" I had to laugh cause he was feeling the same way I was, nervous that it should ring and be an emergency. Now don't get me wrong, I have all the training, know all the rules, have all the contact numbers and reference materials in a big back pack that comes with the phone, but I just couldn't help the feeling of its presence, looming over my shoulder, ready to jump. I actually found myself chanting to it, "please don't ring...please don't ring," and felt like a wimp for doing so. Thankfully, the Soup Supper fund raiser was this evening and I was able to bring it along, hidden safely in my coat pocket. A great sense of comfort came over me being surrounded by all the volunteers, staff and board of directors who were working the event and I finally relaxed. Our volunteer coordinator approached me immediately to ask if I was alright, knowing it was my first overnighter, and I gushed out all of my fears even though there had been no calls. What a great system, I thought, that everyone listens and cares so attentively...and no one thought I was a wimp! I learned alot about my community and felt I belonged.
Peace and blessings to all... And go volunteer. Cause even if the phone doesn't ring, and you weren't able to place someone in a safe house or offer some kind of help, you'll be surprised at what YOU get out of it.
Bogged down for the past two weeks with taxes, contracts and lawyers, I haven't really had the time or the energy to sit and write anything that would make much sense, nor did I want to mention more of the worrying health issues that my little Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, was suffering. (Yes, she was named Tinkerbell many years before Paris Hilton named her Chihuahua Tinkerbell, thank you.) Ten days ago she had a very serious surgery and her heart murmur was much worse, but today she is recovering wonderfully I am more than happy to report. My friend Linda who has just recieved a clean bill of health after a terrible series of chemotheraphy treatments is well enough to call me again in the mornings making sure I have worked on my book the night before. Today she anounced she's throwing a "kicking cancer's ass" party in May when the weather warms up. "We are having a Mariachi (sp) band in the yard and a bar-b-que", she tells me then asks if I mind if there is alchohol there. "Good greif, no!" I tell her, thinking she should do as she damn well pleases and feeling glad that it truly doesn't bother me to be around people who drink. Hell, I'll probably do more dancing sober, I'm so happy for her.
My agent and I are on track and working hard again. I know some of you have been wondering about the status of the book and well, I can tell you that I have a great team together and the editing is going full force. I can't thank you all enough for your patience. Just thought I'd mention that.
So Valentine's Day is here and almost gone. I had a pretty nice one. Flowers and candy were delivered to my office by my husband. (He snuck in when I wasn't there.) My daughter drew me over ten pictures with her new colored markers after she and her class sang Valentine's songs to the residents at the local Retirement Center. The kids were so great to watch. My husband and I bought her the pink and yellow Power Ranger (the girls) for her gift and we had a blast watching her tear into the package.
You know, life still has me facing some pretty big curve balls right now, meaning that I have some scary situations going on that I prefer not to mention at the moment. But today was a good day and I want to wish you all the same and let you know that I am doing my very best to get my book written, written well and from my heart. It is what I think is worth telling.