by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
May 11, 2002 | Mother's Day is traditionally filled with small remembrances, lovely buffet breakfasts and happy hugs. But no mother worth her salt would trade any of these delights for the knowledge that her child was well and safe.
I know. I am the mother of five and one of my children lives daily in fear for her life.
Morgan lives in New York City. Even though she locks herself in at night, she often wakes shaking because she is afraid.
She has reason: after she filed a complaint with the police against her ex-lover for physical abuse and following his subsequent arrest, there have been two break-in attempts in her apartment, located in a safe area and in a "secure" doorman building. I was on the phone with her when the first took place -- the last time she felt safe. She saw the doorknob turn and threw herself against the door, throwing the neglected bolt.
Two such attempts in three weeks in not a coincidence.
Morgan refused to flee for her life. She often calls me late at night, needing to hear my voice. We talk long into the hours of darkness. I am her mother and I share her fear. She asked me why the world demands she run and hide when she has a restraining order. The question, of course, presumes that the rhetoric of justice is the same as the practice and many of us realize that the reality is far different.
The system often appears to be rigged such that justice is not available to women who "inconveniently" accuse those with power. My daughter was unwise enough to have a long-term relationship with an influential political pundit who has power and does not hesitate in wielding it. Even though he has been charged with hideous acts of abuse -- physical and emotional -- he stands accused of domestic violence and, it would seem, looks to be calling in IOU's garnered through twenty years of being a political insider.
IOU's are amazing things. They can cause the photos taken of your former girlfriend's injuries, taken by the police, to disappear. They can transmute paperwork to show that the photos were never taken -- even when the mother of the girl, myself, was a witness.
Unfortunately, a copy of the original and accurate police records noting the existence of the photos is on line and can be viewed, if you are interested. Somehow, the DA's office in Manhattan never received a copy.
One wonders what kinds of favors might have changed hands during the course of these perfect spring days in New York City. Might they have something to do with other uncomfortable secrets that threaten the man who stands accused of battering my child?
Is it possible that someone in law enforcement compromised his or her oaths and duties, and misused their power? The sad truth is that there are too many such people in this world. You meet them everywhere, in circles high and low. Some people will sell themselves for the opportunity of just talking to people with power. Some people come cheap; others cost more.
But they all speak the belief that they cannot be stopped and they are too often right. This has been the way it is far too often through human history and in the history of this country.
People who misuse their power are the source of more human suffering than we can possibly imagine. But all people of power misused know that there is a single thing they must avoid. That thing is the light of public knowledge.
The truth has a power all its own. The words with which God first brought the world into being were held within a single phrase: "Let there be light."
For what we know we need not fear;
What we understand we can change;
What we understand no longer possesses the power to destroy us, our future, and our hopes for our children.
Power is given in trust. When trust is broken power must be revoked. Human institutions such as courts of law and City Hall do not listen to the fall of every sparrow in flight, but they hear the hammer of retribution when we are not silent.
Mother's Day is coming and I am a mother asking for a gift. That gift is justice for my daughter, a victim of domestic violence, and hope for unnamed other daughters of other mothers who also live in fear.
Domestic violence is a crime. It is a crime with a perpetrator who is known and named. We can speak loudly to power subverted and for justice long deferred for many, many women by demanding that this case be heard; that the DA look into whether there is a tie between evidence that has vanished and the influential, powerful individual who stands accused of abusing my daughter; that the "disappearers" of documents also be brought to justice; and that the people of power learn that neither abuse of our persons, our trust, or our justice system will be tolerated.
Next Monday, after you have spent a very special day with your own mother take a moment and call City Hall. Morgan's mother will really appreciate it.