Every so often since my last post in May, when somebody tells a story or I read an article or watch a TV program relating to domestic or family violence, I still get goosebumps. Just thinking about it makes me feel sick to my stomach. It’s not easy for me to sit here and type about it, but last week I learned that this month is the Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). We are already well informed that this month is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with all those pink ribbons everywhere, but you may have noticed the purple ribbons in some places too. They represent DVAM and they are not getting the attention they deserve. DVAM started out as only one day, the “Day of Unity”, in October 1981 and we’ve came a long way ever since.
Naturally, my inner researcher wanted to dig up more information about DVAM. I skimmed through hundreds of statistics conducted by big-time foundations (Avon and Allstate) and the government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although many government websites are down due to the shutdown (think about it, many shelters across the country are forced to close down their services, leaving too many people in need of help), I’ve looked through enough sources to notice the recurring numbers throughout the facts and figures.
The first one is simply tragic:
ONE in FOUR women and ONE in SEVEN men have been victim of domestic violence and experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her/his lifetime.
But this is more tragic:
Nearly THREE out of FOUR (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
But what’s even more tragic is that despite of the fact, only 15% of Americans believe it’s a problem among their friends.
Millions of calls are made to the National Domestic Violence Hotline while TWO in THREE Americans never discussed about it with their friends and THREE in FOUR parents never discussed about it with their minor children.
It’s not a hopeless situation, 64% of Americans say they are more likely to help someone out if we talk more about it. It is uncomfortable and sensitive subject, especially for those victims who experienced it and felt they are at fault because it happened to them. The bottom line is it’s way more common than you think. DV isn’t just stories that you hear and sweep under the rug; it deserves as much recognition as those who have or survived breast cancer. When it happened to me, I never talked to anybody at that time, but I hope this will get you talking.
My new (and absolutely dear) friend, Jon Savage, made this video for DeafHope, an amazing organization founded by a group of Deaf women in the Bay Area in northern California with the mission to end domestic and sexual violence through empowerment, education and services.
When I watched the video, I realized how little I really knew about domestic violence. I had to watch it again and think about what I went through during those years with Renny and it’s frighteningly true that I experienced nearly ALL of what Deanne Bray mentioned about the power and control abuse, and yet I stayed with him that long. I thought I understood domestic violence, but I was in denial for a long time. I’m stopping that and at least what I can do right now is to share with you all this valuable video. Thank you Jon and Deanne!
More than year has gone by since Renny was last arrested on November 21st, 2011, leading to his prison time. He’s already served the first year of his sentence and has more than a decade to go, unless his parole board decides to let him out earlier. Rex will be well into his teenage years by the time Renny serves his sentence full-time and gets out.
This sole fact is already enough for me to let Renny go and move on. However, we still write letters to each other and his letters almost always make me emotional. No matter how detached I’ve been from him, living far away in the world, his letter always bring me back to right in front of him, behind the bars inside his cell. His letters enclose me in the four cold stone walls of his life. They angered me and made me cry. But his desperate words and search for spiritual wisdom (specifically, the whys of his destructive actions) also filled me with the mixture of forgiveness and compassion. He has a very long road ahead of him.
And so do I, raising Rex along the way.
That’s why I’ve a hard time keeping up with this blog, because it reminds me how I feel alone with so many responsibilities and sacrifices. Every time I write Renny a letter, I’m emotionally worn out by the time I sign my name.
I don’t want to feel that way every time I click ‘Publish’. I don’t want to turn my blog into a place for me to whine and bitch around because life didn’t turn out the way I expected.
Don’t get me wrong, our letters are not entirely of sad stories and angry resentments. We talk about what we read and saw on TV. We talk about the future. We talk a lot about spirituality. I told him he can write for this blog if he is ready and wants to. He said he will.
I also have to prioritize. I’m so happy to tell you that I’m the Production Assistant for ASL Films’ next production which will be filmed in Minnesota this coming spring. I really look forward to experiencing this exciting opportunity.
And not only that, our latest film, SLOT, is already out! Check out www.aslfilms.com for the showings in your area. I’m in it and it is something that I am proud to be part of!
Alas, that means you might hear less from me for the next few months, but this blog is still very much alive, and I will keep you updated every once in while with any kind of news or anything relating to the project or what I am doing. Thank you, my friends, for reading and staying in touch with me! I’m glad you are part of my life! And to others, thank you for your continuing support, I can feel it and I really appreciate it!
Catherine MacKinnon, one of my dearest friends, is the co-founder and director of the Toronto International Deaf Film & Arts Festival. The first festival was hosted in 2006 and it is still going strong. This year, the jury board received a record number of film submissions and selected over twenty films, both short and feature, of the wide range in genres from around the world. I’m very proud of you, Cats!
Please check the website out and contribute in any way you can. TIDFAF is one of the fastest growing Deaf festivals in the world, but it is not just a festival. It is also the non-profit organization that promotes the public awareness of Deaf artists and filmmakers from Canada and other countries and strives to build a bridge between them and the mainstream arts and film world. I’m all for that! Please share this post with your family and friends, your support is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
A big THANK YOU to DeafInPrison.com for the Reality Blog Award nomination! I’m truly honored to receive this nomination and I’m more than happy to answer the questions that usually come with the nomination.
1. If you could change something what would you change?
I would change the way Deaf people are portrayed in the media. The hearing people’s pathological point of views and discriminations (audism) hinder us to achieve on the high level in the working world. I’m not blaming every hearing (and deaf) person for labeling us with the inaccurate and offensive stereotypes; there are some Deaf people who live up to those stereotypes, but they are only small in number in comparison to the rest of us who have huge potentials to make valuable contributions to the society. There are many intelligent Deaf people who want to make connections to hearing people and promotes their works, but are oppressed by assumptions, lack of understanding, or fear that we will bully you for not respecting us and our culture. We know better than that.
2. If you could repeat an age, what age would it be?
I just turned 30 a couple of weeks ago, so I thought a lot about the last 29 years of my life and given that where I am now, I wouldn’t repeat a specific age because it is all about cause and effect. Most of times what you do now will impact your life years later. We usually don’t realize that until after it happened.
3. What one thing really scares you?
That we are losing touch with nature.
4. What one dream have you not completed yet and do you think you will be able to complete it?
I have many, but it’s skydiving for now.
5. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
Kate Middleton. I want to see her home at the Kensington Palace!
And now for my nominations:
I felt it’s time for my blog to get a new look so I updated the appearance and content on all pages. I found this awesome background image that perfectly represents me and what my project is all about. n Like I said in the Working Documentary page, my visions for this project are constantly changing.
Good news, the Rise From the Ashes website is up! For some reason it didn’t work before, but now it does. The progress of filming the original documentary is all in there. The last post was never finished because Rex was born around that time and we had to move back to Austin.
Even better news, I’m on www.deafinprison.com‘s blogroll! Deaf in Prison is a resourceful website filled with news and references about the deaf people and criminal justice system. Tons of information about the correctional systems in the US and around the world can be found here. If you want to know more about your rights to communication accessibility and interpreters, this is the place to go.
I have one more cool news I’ll share with you on the next post!
I’m making this simple and sweet, so you can go and continue on your new year celebration.
I’m just thinking about the days that are behind us. Both good and bad days.
And the present moment I’m in right now. I’m very grateful for that. It was simply unbelievable what I’ve been through this year. I looked at my first blog post I wrote and oh my goodness! How much I’ve grown!
And then I had a thought. What is one change that I learned and applied to my life this year? I want to share this with you and I hope you will have a better insight of this philosophy.
If I was in a beauty pageant and somebody asked, “What do you wish for?”
I would answer, “World Peace!”
But it doesn’t work that way. It’s easy to wish for the humankind to start caring for each other. It’s like wishing for other people to do it for you. The only way World Peace will happen is when each person makes peace with herself. Nobody but you can do for yourself. Every person has her own way of making peace with herself. Be it praying in a place of worship or helping others, but the bottom line is forgive your mistakes and accept yourself. What changes for better inside you will show on your face and it will be smiling.
I know many people would say, “The wars and chaos have their places in this world, or otherwise we won’t know what peace is, and if we reach the total state of peacefulness, there will be no purpose in living.” Worry not, billions of us are at struggle every day of finding peace with ourselves, so the day of World Peace is very far away.
I in no way want to take your hope away of living in peace. On the contrary, I’m very hopeful! I covered a lot of miles on my road in 2012, but it is still long way to go in short years. I try my best to make peace with myself every day, but there were many days I failed to succeed. My hope is that people would find a spark in themselves to let go of pains and reach for peace within. It will not happen every day. It requires practicing. I’m not saying this is going to be easy, but if we go on this path collectively, World Peace may not happen, but there will be a lot more happier people in the world.
This post is getting long so I better stop now and go play with Rex. Happy New Year and peace out!
Leila, thank you for tagging me and giving me the Liebster Award. It’s a great honor. Also your blog is awesome!
Of course, I had to google up the Liebster Blog Award and what I found out is that it is actually a nice token of appreciation from bloggers to other bloggers with around 200 followers or less. The award recognizes the emerging bloggers and encourages them to get more recognition. The word “Liebster” comes from German language meaning beloved or dearest. Naturally, there is a set of rules that come with the award:
When Rex and I returned home in Austin last July (thank you all for your sweet comments on the photos posted on my Facebook wall and Instagram!). I felt much better as a whole person. I could just drop the entire project and move on with my life, focus on Rex and go back to school and find a job, etc., but there’s something deep inside me that just flat out refuses let me give up.
I spent the entire month doing serious soul searching to find the answers to my questions about my film project. Why am I doing it? Will doing it and reliving those memories be good for me emotionally and mentally? Do I want to just shut him out and banish him from my memory forever? Does Renny deserve to have a movie about him? Indeed, he is center of the story, but it’s my story. It’s also the story of many other women and men who experienced or are experiencing the life with substance abuse and domestic violence. It’s easy to look down at drug addicts and dismiss them, but ask anybody who knows, addiction is a disease. It is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde disease. I survived it, I may as well as use my film as the method of telling my story.
I know there are many more people out there who went through similar experiences, but sometimes I feel like I am the only one because I’m a full-time mother and I have to stay home most of time. I have to admit that I haven’t been to Al-Anon meetings. Renny encouraged me to attend one when he was attending NA meetings back then. I thought I could handle it. Man, I was wrong. I know I should have went to the meetings. I should also see a counselor, but I’m not comfortable with sharing my experiences through an interpreter. It doesn’t matter how good he or she is, I don’t like the fact that a third party is involved. I can’t always be sure all my information is conveyed 100% accurately to the counselor. It is already hard enough just talking about this on my blog post; I still have a harder time talking about this in person. I have to swallow my pride before I explain to somebody who asked. The shame is still inside me and I am trying to let it go. I saw this quote somewhere and it can’t be any truer. “There is no shame in making mistakes. All we must do is get over our pride and admit we were wrong.”
To many of you who wrote to me about your experiences: Thank you for sharing with me. I’d like to reach out to other people like you. Your letters help me building my confidence to make my film project happen. I also want to get in touch with the advocates too. If you know of any good support groups in the Austin area, please share in the comment space below. Catherine, my awesome producer and friend, and I are planning something really cool. We’ll make the announcement in a week or two. Last, but not least, please Like on our Facebook page and follow our blog! Thanks so much!