It was six in the morning when I was lying in bed that day in the month of November 2012. It was raining the day that I woke up to blood-curdling screams and the slams of doors. I sat up alarmed and stared outside through my bedroom window and saw a little girl clawing at the front door and crying.
“Let me in! Let me in!” she yelled. The girl looked to be about eight or nine years old.
I jumped up, put on my jeans. I dialed for the police and laid my cell phone on my bed as it rang.
“911. What is your emergency?”
“There is a domestic violence situation next door. There is a little girl outside screaming. The boyfriend locked her out of the house. The mother is inside screaming and getting choked.” I told the operator. As I was speaking with emergency services, I put on my socks, boots, my jacket, and I grabbed my taser and mace and placed them in my jacket pocket. I gave them all the information that they needed to respond accordingly.
The emergency services did not stay on the line and after they took my information, they let me go. I hoped that they did not want to stay on the line with me. I was going next door to help that little girl. Whatever danger I was put in, I did not care. That little girl needed help and her mother needed help.
By the time that I made it next door, all was eerily quiet. I knocked on the door and there was no answer. I knocked on the door again, and there was no answer.
“Hey, someone’s knocking on your door,” said a woman on her porch, across the street. I looked across the street and had seen my neighbor standing there.
“Hey! Is everything okay?” I said.
“No. My boyfriend just choked me and hit me. I was getting my kids up ready for school and doctor’s appointments and he lost it on me. He took off down the street. I don’t know where he is now!” she said.
“Okay, well, I just called the cops. They are on their way as we speak. Where’s your kids?” I asked.
“They are over there,” as she pointed and sobbed. “Oh, man! CPS is really going to take my kids away this time! This is the second time this month that the cops have been called.” she said.
I looked over at the car, and there stood the little girl who was yelling to be let inside the house after being locked out. She was standing there with her light-pink, raincoat on, rain-drenched hair and a look of concern on her face that I had never seen before.
“I’m taking your daughter over to my house to get them warm, some food, and time to unwind while you talk to the police. Okay?” I asked.
“Okay,” said the mother.
I walked over to the girl, “Hey! I’m going to take you over to my house so you can get some breakfast and so you can get warm, okay?”
“Okay,” she said, “My sister is in the car.”
I looked into the car and had seen the infant resting in the carseat, roughly two or three months old. I opened the car door, reached in, unbuckled the seatbelt holding the carseat in place and grabbed the infant, the baby bag, and shut the car door. I looked at the little girl drenched and I put my hand out for her to take it.
The little girl took my hand gently, and we walked the short distance to my home. I turned on some cartoons, went upstairs, and woke my son, and then I brought him down stairs. I made the little girl and my son each a bowl of cereal and each a cup of orange juice. The infant began to get fussy as she was hungry, too. I made the infant girl a bottle from the formula that was contained in the bag.
Once I was able to sooth and calm the infant, I sat on the floor with the little girl, our legs crossed, and I began to talk to try to calm the little girl who had finished her breakfast.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“My name is Angel,” she said.
I then gave her my name, “So, what grade are you in?” I asked.
“I’m in third grade.” She replied.
“Oh! That is super cool! I remember my days in third grade. Do you have to do a lot of spelling and writing?” I asked.
“Yeah!” she said, I have to do a spelling test today for class. I don’t think I will be able to because I have to go to the doctor today.”
“Oh, okay. I’m sure you will do GREAT on that test. Have you been practicing your words?” I asked her this because the only thing she had on her were her spelling words.
“Yeah. I like spelling,” she said.
“That’s awesome! I’m sure you can spell wonderfully! Do you have other favorite subjects?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Hmmm? Like Science, Math, Art, Music, Dance, Recess?” I asked.
She giggled, “Recess is not a class!”
“I know,” I said, giggling.
Angel was distant now. She was thinking and what she was thinking about was not good, as I could tell by the look on her face. I thought to myself, “I need to distract her right, now.”
Right when I was preparing to ask her another question she said, “My mom’s boyfriend hit and choked my Mommy. He wouldn’t let me save her. He pushed me outside and locked me out of the house. He was hitting my Mommy and choking her. I couldn’t do anything.”
I stared at her intently. I did not know what to say and one second of my trying to think of what to say felt like an eternity. I felt a lump in my throat building with emotion; the tears were beginning to flow from my eyes. I know that she had seen my eyes water because she began to look at the floor and fiddle with the lace on her socks.
I needed to say something, “You know, it’s not your fault. Nothing is your fault. You did the best that you could do. I heard your screaming and it woke me up, I then called the cops for you. So you did help your mother.” I said.
I started scrambling for words to say to Angel to let her know that she has people who care and will help her. I wanted her to know I was on her side. Thoughts rushed my mind of everything I should say, I could say and all that I wanted to say. She was still looking down at the ground as if she still felt like she did not do enough.
Then that was what sparked that protecting, roaring lion within me.
“Look, Angel. You should never have to go through that. Ever! You should not have to witness that type of violence and your Mommy getting hurt. So here is the thing, if ever you need someone to talk to, I am here. You can come over and just hang out with me and my son. You can even bring your siblings, too. If your Mommy is getting hurt, or your Mom’s boyfriend is hurting your Mommy, you come to my house and get me. I do NOT care what time it is. I do NOT care how you do it. If you want to throw rocks at the widows, bang on my door, yell for help, etc. I will come running over to help you and your Mommy. You are not alone! Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she said. “Thank you, Miss.”
“Oh, Angel, it is not a problem! My Mommy and her boyfriend would get into fights. Sometimes I would have to go and get help. I had people who were brave and they would help my Mommy and me. As just as they helped me, I am here to help you. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Miss.” In addition, she began to smile.
I gave Angel a hug, and told her that I promise her that I will be here to help her the best way that I can. In that moment, she knew that she had someone who had her back. Angel knew that if anything was more than what she could handle, she had a place for respite. Angel had someone who would sacrifice his or her own safety to make sure she was safe. Those who she relied on for safety were those making her life unsafe.
I do not like the term ‘duty’ or ‘obligation’. What I offered to Angel was neither. It was empathy. It was love. It was my fight for her. It was this instance that I realized that no one owes me a thing. No one owes me anything for what I had to go through with domestic violence. The experiences that I had as a victim, and had evolved me into a survivor. I survived! There are so many men, women and children who don’t survive. Why should I sit and do nothing as a woman is being abused and her children are observers of abuse, and abused themselves?
Survivors teach others who do not have the skills and the know-how, how to survive. They aren’t stupid, I’m not saying that. But emotions run high everyday, and it’s hard to keep them in check. Emotions blur the lines of what is reality and it’s hard to make decisions and act quickly. Survivors, when they took that step to leave their situation, they finally had reached that level of mental clarity. Their emotions no longer blur the lines of what is real. What is real is that someone is being subjected to pain. They use the strength that they have gained from their own fight, to help others fight. And if they can’t fight, sometimes we, the survivors, have to go so far as to fight for them.
Why do survivors do this? Oh, it’s because we know what it’s like. That moment that we witness a situation, and that ball of emotion begins to build in our throats, we do not just sit and cry. No, those ball of emotion causes us to act. We do not have time to cast judgment. We do not have time to reflect or consider what would be the right or wrong thing to do. We just do–we do what we can. We do what we can and what we wished someone could have done for us, and we do it unselfishly.
Angel was a fighter girl. She had that drive and she wanted the situation to change. When someone is always fighting alone, no matter their age, ability, strength, etc., it’s always great when you have someone to come to your side and says, “Let’s do this! Let’s go kick some butt!” Everyone needs someone to help encourage them, uplift them, and be that respite for the time when things aren’t so good.”
All I ask is that you be that side-kick for someone who’s having a bad time or be that superhero for that person who’s lost their fight. Be someone’s hero, today.