This is written in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"Her fears were correct as her next door neighbor, Deidra Thompson, 33, had been murdered. Relatives of Thompson’s boyfriend, Frank Walters, called authorities after they said Walters showed up in Screven County and confessed to murder and more. Deputies rushed to the house. They found Thompson’s body and evidence of other crimes in addition to murder. They believe that’s where Walters sexually assaulted a juvenile who lived there after the murder. They think he then kidnapped the child, stole and used a credit card of Thompson’s, took the juvenile to his family in Screven County. He was arrested in woods nearby.” (WTOC 2012)
I wish you could hear this, but your soul is locked away. And somehow, after what happened to you…I hope you have peace now, girl. It’s crazy…I remember being the very one scoffing at hearing “I got flowers today”. But, the joke’s on me when my mother told me she once got hers. And now here I am…confined to spreadsheets of firearm deaths. And somehow, Deidra, you drew to me. Because I can’t stomach what happened to you…and my heart races thinking about your daughter. I tried to forget you, but you haunt me in my sleep…forcing me to remember your story…Forcing me…to remember your name. I slept one night, remembering your horror, but I did not remember your name. And you don’t deserve to be treated with such insensitivity. As various scenarios of your last breaths played in my head, I had to find you. I had to…remember your name. So, here I am….writing. Writing these words for you. It won’t ever be enough for your death. It won’t be enough for your daughter’s trauma. It won’t be enough for your perpetrator. But, I hope it’s enough to make amends. I hope it’s enough for your baby girl’s peace. I hope it’s enough…to always remember your name. I cry for you without even knowing you, Deidra. But, I will ALWAYS…remember your name.
Women are a lot of things- nurturers, homemakers, superwomen…and even fighters. Yet, we brush them off, we laugh, and instead we ask “Why did you stay?” We give much dismay to the victims, forgetting that they’re victims….just to later on be forced to remember their names. See, I’ve read too many stories about this “domestic violence” to remain silent. And the problem is that it never really happens…domestically. No, it happens in the car outside her mother’s house after a woman has fled, running…down the street…. or your casual sidewalk where her body is then dumped beneath the trees. These are the stories domestic violence paints…. however, it is not the only story. And for this, Deidra is me….and I am her. Because just like the devil, this violence wears many faces. And if you aren’t careful…it can all look so…tempting. Do not be confused. This violence takes root not only in the physical…but also verbally, economically, and most of all…emotionally. So, don’t dare be ignorant. Because the truth is…every woman endures at least one of these forms of domestic abuse, inevitably. Let’s not forget though….it’s 1 in 4 women that must endure this pain, physically. So, that’s mommy. Cousin. Your best friend….or the girl in your class that’s always smiling. It’s the woman coming to church to “feel alive”, but inside….she’s dying. Will you remember their name?
Deidra is she. She is me. And I am her…and I will never forget her name. We did not have the same pain. We do not share the same story. But, she’s a woman, too…and for that, Deidra is me.…So, I will write for her. I will work hard. I will dream…for her. Because I don’t ever want to forget her. I don’t ever want to forget her story. I don’t want to remain oblivious in a world…where women are dying. Most of all, I don’t want to sit…and do nothing. We shamefully live in a world where we’re toy soldiers…and somehow, we’re always the ones falling. I don’t want to keep falling. I don’t want to remember more names. And I don’t want to read more stories.
Fairness. Equality. Respect. Love. Peace. That’s what we need…or else we’ll keep suiting up for war…. retrieving 911 dispatch for more dead bodies. Parenting. Love. A new “masculinity”. Frederick Douglass said it himself, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I don’t know if they’re enough temporary protective orders in the world to repair what’s already broken. But, I’d like to think…men deserve help, too. Will you remember their names?
Deidra Thompson. Frank Walters. Tennille Grant. Silvia Flores. Claudine Hargrove. Jessica Criff. Amber Wilson. Tamicka Armstrong. Stephen Clayton. Samantha Keithley. Ernest Winslow. Mariah Carey. Robyn Fenty. Christopher Brown. Ray Rice. Janay Palmer. Tiatiane Spitzner. Fantasia Barrino. Lionel Richie. Tina Turner. Ike Turner. Evelyn Chambers. Halle Berry. Robin Givens. Mike Tyson.
Shanann Watts. Bella Watts. Celeste Watts. Will you remember their pain? Will you remember their name?
Deidre Thompson, 33
If you or someone you know is in a unhealthy relationship, find your nearest state coalition here or call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.