It has been way too long since my last blog entry. To say life has gotten away from me would be an understatement. Not to worry, there are big things on the horizon! That’s for another day; however, today I would like to pay tribute to a phenomenal man who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that a victim felt heard, validated, and most importantly–safe. In previous blogs, I have briefly discussed how broken and in desperate need of change our current system is when it comes to how it responds and treats the victims of domestic violence of any kind. This includes the police, social services, and the courts. I can’t tell you the countless instances where myself or my children–the victims–were treated and viewed like the criminals and the “real” criminal was looked at as the victim. It cuts a person to the core when they are desperately trying to free themselves, their children, or advocate on the behalf of someone else; when you are viewed as either a waste of time and effort on their part, or they are so hardened and desensitized to these situations that they have made their mind up with regard to guilt or innocence prior to getting all the information needed to formulate an accurate opinion. It is because of this that people end up silencing themselves for fear of persecution, ridicule, or that their situation is made even more direr due to the ineffective involvement of those with the authority to help those who so desperately need them—and—they don’t.
I vowed many years ago never to be silenced on my own behalf or on the behalf of anyone who is unable or too afraid to stand up for themselves. I know all too well the familiar feeling of helplessness and desperation that a person feels when they aren’t being supported or heard by those put in place to do just that, serve and protect. I remember on one occasion “The Devil” brought my girl’s back to me after having supervised visitation and Emma, 9 months at the time, was visibly upset. I immediately asked the supervisor, his father–“The Devil’s Protector”– what happened? He looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about and proceeded to hand her over, turn and walk away. I knew something was wrong, although she wasn’t walking yet, she still liked to pull herself up on anything she could find. There was a point when I went to put her down and the moment she bore any weight on her leg she let out a scream unlike anything I had ever heard before. She was completely inconsolable. Typically, nursing fixed all boo-boo’s; however, this time was far different. I immediately called the on-call doctor at the pediatrician’s office to ask what to do. I explained the situation to her, indicating that her father had had supervised visitation for the preceding 3 hours, therefore I had no idea what happened while in his care. She informed me that it was highly unlikely that it was serious because it was so difficult for infant’s bone to break. However, if she was still not baring any weight on her leg in the morning and continued to be as hysterical as she was to bring her into the office. The rest of the evening and night didn’t get any better. She barely slept, cried most of the night, and nursing wasn’t helping at all. First thing in the morning I brought her to the doctor’s office where they looked at her and immediately sent us to the hospital. The doctor had called over to the ER to let them know we were coming so that we didn’t have to wait once we arrived. My best friend Kristin was in town visiting thankfully, so I had a witness to all the goings on the previous evening. We arrived at the hospital and Kristin kept Bella with her in the waiting room while I was with Emma getting examined and sent for x-rays. When the results came back that my sweet baby girl had a broken leg I was god smacked. Of course, they wanted explanations and I couldn’t provide them with any.
They immediately called the Police and DSS, because in their myopic minds, it was clear that I had abused my daughter. They also called her father, who I had a stay away protective order from at the time because of his abuse of me. “The Devil” and his “protector” arrived at the hospital feigning complete ignorance that Emma was injured prior to being dropped off to me at the hotel. Their denial would have been laughable had people not bought his bullshit story that it had to have happened while in my custody. But, like every other time DSS was called on him they bought he and his father’s version, hook, line, and sinker. “I mean how in the world could this atrocious act happen while under supervised visitation with a known abuser?” Really? At no point did they consider that this father conceivably could have either caused this trauma by his own actions or failed actions. Either way, I was the one they automatically assumed was not telling the truth. To this day I will never understand how “The Devil” continued to get away with all the abuse he was inflicting on my children for as long as he did, but never the less, it happened. Much to the misfortune of those misguided souls involved that had the audacity to question my integrity, character, and ability to keep my babies safe; I happen to have an incomparable ability to have the door slammed in my face repeatedly, both figuratively and literally; however, keeping with who I am: stubborn, relentless, a consummate warrior for truth and justice, I refused to accept what appeared to be the inevitable—defeat. Instead, I chose to give that “door” a resounding “fuck you” and open it back up. It’s a damn door, that’s exactly what they were created to do, open and close. It is with that veracity and passion that I approach any challenge I meet.
Many years ago, I became familiar with this concept known as, “A Day-Maker.” This is when no matter what is going on in your personal life, you take it upon yourself to set aside your own troubles, stress, and disappointments to be the light and hope in someone else’s life. Because you never really know what a person is struggling with internally. They can tell you one thing, you can see another, and the reality could be quite different. It just takes one person who is willing and has the desire to try and put a smile on someone’s face, give a stranger a hug, or provide an open and non-judgmental heart and two ears to listen when no one else has; that can literally change the trajectory of a person’s life. Your selflessness was able to take another human’s invisible pain and transform it into hope. That is precisely who Officer Maxwell is, “A-Day Maker.” In the sixteen years I have been home in Maryland I have never met anyone so selfless, empathetic, and kind to a perfect stranger. Yes, he was doing his job by protecting and serving the public; however, what he did for a terrified and overwhelmed young mother went far beyond his job description. I was so privileged and grateful to have had the opportunity to witness how he goes about doing his “job.” The love and kindness he has for others emanated from him. You could feel his goodness and knew with him in your corner everything was going to be okay. I mean what greater gift could any person give to another but unconditional love and acceptance. I believe that when you see something you say something. Well, I saw so much beauty in one man that I felt compelled to say something. People aren’t told enough that they are doing a good job. Especially those men and woman in law enforcement. Currently, our society has become so filled with criticism, mistrust, and violence toward the very people who are putting their lives on the line every day for our safety. In some small way, I hope this provides hope, comfort, and peace to those who have lost faith, knowing that there are really wonderful people out there who truly want nothing more than to be good and do good with the intent of making this world a safer more loving place to exist. I never had the pleasure of encountering an “Officer Maxwell” in my life, although I desperately could have used him. But, meeting him now and knowing what he is doing for those people who I once shared their same fate, somehow takes all the pain and disappointment from my own past and makes it a little more palatable.
So, I thank you Officer Maxwell, from the bottom of my heart for giving me the peace I have needed for so long. And thank you too, on the behalf of all those who are scared, hopeless, and don’t know what to do or where to turn, for giving them everything they need to feel empowered and sharing your own strength with them when they are unable to find it within themselves.
You serve as a resounding example of what we all should aspire to be. May your goodness be contagious to all those you bless with your sweet spirit and warm heart, and from you may they take what you bestow onto them and go out into the world and share it with others. That is what will make America great!