07 March 2013

Valerie Deering: 'Destruction of Personal Property'

The Ms. Foundation for Women is celebrating Women’s History Month with a blog carnival featuring the voices and profiles of women across the country. This Month of Action is generously supported by our friends in Seattle. 

By Valerie Deering

I am a survivor of domestic violence.

It started with my family of origin and culminated in one brave act to call law enforcement after I had been thrown down stairs by a man who “loved” me.

During my month-long stay with him, while I was being treated for breast cancer, he said and did many disturbing things to me. Luckily, once the police were called, the situation became a state matter.

Like many women, I began to feel guilty about calling the police because the man became even more abusive and threatened to throw me out if I didn’t recant my story. So I did, on paper.

The man became even more violent. It was as if the paper were a permission slip to treat me as an object, his property.

Finally, I escaped – but only after he made more threats to my safety, causing me to experience an enormous moment of clarity.

Despite the evidence of cuts and bruises and the police testimony, this man was exonerated from domestic violence. However, he had broken a piece of my furniture in his rage.

The final verdict?

Guilty of destruction of personal property. 

I’m glad to hear that he was handed some sort of consequence for his violent behavior. But how telling is it that his consequence was for destroying a piece of furniture rather than tossing a woman down the stairs?

Surviving domestic violence taught me that I have power. I just gave it away for so long. Now I use it for good in the world, helping others realize their own power. A year ago, I started a women's foundation for the education, empowerment and rehabilitation of women and girls who have been touched by domestic violence – which is way too many, as you know.

Valerie Deering lives in Overland Park, KS.

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