While in my garage looking for something I heard a chilling scream. I ran outside to see where the sound came from and saw a young woman with a baby in her arms running across my front yard.
I rushed after her and ushered into my house. She barely spoke any English but she was able to say clearly, “He’s trying to kill me.” I called the police and learned that this woman who I had never met before was my neighbor of a year, and her husband was the man who she ran away from fearing for her life.
I’ve worked with women before in crisis situations, one time watching a dog for a mother of two children who stayed in a shelter after her husband decided to beat her in front of their boys and leave their hamster dead as a warning of what would come next. She had left several times, unsuccessfully before.
But due to lack of resources, an inability to afford rent, and family that had grown tired of her leave him and return back dance, she never kept her promise not to return to herself. This time was leaving was different. The hamster was the last straw. When a church group leader asked me to watch the dog, I agreed not knowing how long it would take for this woman to get on her feet.
Amazingly, not fearing for her dog gave her the courage to keep trying to succeed at building a life for herself. She went into hiding and it was 9 months, a restraining order, and several changed locations later, that she started to rebuild her life once again.
According to a 10-year study conducted by the Center For Disease, Control women are more likely than men to become the victims of murder in domestic violence situations. Women under the age of 44 are also more often a member of a minority group, which means even more challenge are involved in establishing financial stability without help.
What’s sad is how little we hear about these stories from media or even in our communities. As violent crime rises among women and children, and awareness grows, perhaps needed change in the form of resources will increase too.