The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Startling Reality

Did you know that 3.9 million women are physically abused by their partners and 20.7 million are verbally or emotionally abused? Did you also know that it has been reported that up to 100% of homeless women have experienced domestic or sexual violence at some point in their lives? I actually was not aware of any of these statistics. These numbers are shocking and unnerving at the same time. There have been multiple instances that I have listened to people speak about physical and emotional abuse, but it was not until a few days ago that all of these issues became a reality in my life. There is something about having a first hand experience that shakes you to your core and wakes you up to a brutal reality.
I work with homeless women now on a weekly basis and feel as though I am just beginning to learn the appropriate way to interact with them. Treating them with dignity and respect is all they are asking for in their time of need. Truly, these women are just like you and I, however, they are going through rough patches in their lives. What is difficult for me is that often times the best form of respect is smiling and not allowing your actual feelings to show through. The case that I experienced this past week was very different. As I was sitting at the front desk a women approached me and asked for information on a battered women’s shelter. There was something that did not sit well with me and as she asked each question persisting on knowing more I began to put the pieces together. She was sniveling as if she had just finished crying, however, I just wanted to believe that she had a bad cold. Though that sounds absurd, I clearly just did not want to believe the facts. I know awful things happen in this world, but I was not sure if I was ready for the stark reality. She was wearing black sunglasses and a sweatshirt and jeans. She was clearly trying to hide something in an inconspicuous manner. I told her that I should get my supervisor because she would be able to help her the most adequately.
As my supervisor Jennifer came and spoke with her she asked her to give more information as to why she was inquiring on the issue. As she raised her sunglasses my stomach sank. She looked at us and said, “See”. She said it as if she had something to prove. Her left eye was swollen, black and blue and drooping. I was speechless. This was not like the movies or even a picture; this was real and ever present. There was a feeling of violation that ran through my veins. I was angry for her as if I was in her body. She did not seem as if she was angry, she seemed broken but ready to fight back in her own way. By reaching out she was able to fight her assailant in the best way that she could, by helping herself.
As she walked away to freshen up and to go speak with a case manager I sat in my chair with a million thoughts running through my mind. Though I was thinking all of these things I did not know what to do or say. I sat in silence and thought about the rest of the women sitting in the room with me. How many of them have experienced the same thing as the woman that came in for help? These women are human beings and deserve to be treated accordingly. Despite their circumstances they should be treated with the same respect and dignity that that they are simply asking for. It is important that each of us have compassion and step up to help those who at times do not have the adequate voice to help themselves.

By: Alyssa Silva


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