Eleven women. Unique, yet the same. Chilling stories that are our own. We came together from across the country with the purpose of recreating a story which lives in each of us. It stirs, it sobers, it haunts us. It is a story in many ways like our own, though our endings were different. We are still here to tell ours, where so very many others remain untold or permanently silenced through death. What would they say if they could tell others?
You see, it is never as simple as he killed her that day, as is reported in the news. There is a woman; a vital, vibrant soul with friends and family and people who loved her. There is who he is. Leading double lives. One for the public to see, one with her. There is how he treated her. There are always the events leading up to it. There are signs. Danger ahead signs. Rear view mirror signs few interpret until it is too late.
The eleven of us gathered on a rainy fall morning on the top floor in a revitalized old industrial revolution factory. Windows lined the space, yet the day let little light in. A century old oak floor creaked against the film crew’s footsteps, fading until our minds finally excluded any presence of them, of the cameras and lights; leaving only the large, hollow space our small triangle anchored as we spoke.
In each of us was the echo of it could have been us. Like Jenn Snyder, who was killed by her unborn baby’s father when she chose to end their intimate relationship and continue her pregnancy being supported by her friends and family; it could have been us. With mission and purpose, we gathered to talk about our experiences on camera within the context of intimate violence. Through our own, we were telling Jenn’s story.
I was in an abusive relationship for almost two years. I have not spoken up openly about this for the fear of being blamed, for fear of people thinking it makes me a different person, and for fear of judgment. I left a little more than a year ago, and in the process of leaving, my abuser almost took my life.
But today I say no more. I will not hide in silence, because the silence is what perpetuates the epidemic. He did this to me, I have no shame. I do not fear the few who will say ‘she should have just left’ or ‘why didn’t she leave’ (code for: It’s her fault he abused her). To those people my reply is this: 75% of intimate partner homicides are committed after she has already left. Leaving is the most dangerous time for someone in an abusive relationship.
Myself and ten of the strongest and most courageous women I have met filmed footage for a documentary film to give a voice to a wonderful woman, Jennifer Snyder. This woman had a beautiful soul. Her precious life was taken from her by a man who was supposed to love her. She was pregnant. Jenn did not deserve to have her life taken. She will never have the chance to speak out. So today, I speak out in the name of Jenn Snyder.
Did you know that the leading cause of death during pregnancy is homicide? This crime is preventable and there are numerous red flags. Today and every day, I vow to take a stand against domestic violence and speak up on behalf of those who are no longer with us. Jenn, you are forever our soul sister.
Since I was a young girl I have said “When I grow up I am going to be just like Mulan and Pocahontas. I am going to stand up in the name of doing the right thing and helping those in need. I am going to write my story.” So I tell you now – I am dedicating my life to standing up for victims, I am going to write books and a blog, I will create a dance production, I am going to stand up to the criminal justice system that has served so many injustices. I will fight for what’s right.
I will no longer hide in silence. Silence creates an epidemic. My name is Lisa. I am a survivor and today I thrive. I am not ashamed. Here’s to saying no more to violence and male entitlement.
Thank you to Tracy, my soul sisters, and the newest additions to my family for helping me to find my voice. I will always remember how grateful I am for this empowering weekend.
Love and Hugs,