Masi meeting yesterday – we had a discussion on domestic violence and what to do if you’re in such a situation, talking about protection orders and the process for getting help. Of the approximately 20 moms there, only 3 are currently in relationships, but all had either been in an abusive relationship previously or knew someone who had.
We spoke about going to the police station for help – 2 things really worried me about what they said.
1. The cops will laugh at you when you go in there – “Oh we know *you* – you’ll just drop the charges tomorrow, we’re not going to waste our time. And other unprofessional behaviour which too often young women do not feel able to question. The culture of respecting your elders – and by extension – those in authority, leads too many to never question when they’re told something that doesn’t sound right. Either they’re unaware of their rights or lack the confidence to demand correct treatment. Both of these are unacceptable.
2. The idea that you can call the cops, they’ll come to the house to collect the abusive partner, then drop him off at the entrance to Masi and he’s home in 5 minutes. Back to you, the person who’s just called the police on him. Is it any wonder at all that women do not report? I feel at a loss here.
Then had a chat with one of the moms. She’s in Grade 11, has a little boy of just over a year. She cried as she told me how they’re struggling for food – her mom is unemployed and all of them have been hungry. She feels stupid for getting pregnant, she said.
Some people believe that I should have told her that she was stupid. When faced with a crying and ashamed young mother, desperate to give her child a good life, I don’t see how calling her stupid would be of any use whatsoever.
So we spoke about looking ahead. We spoke about the options for claiming maintenance from the dad. She doesn’t want to, as he’s not interested in baby at all and she doesn’t want him in their lives. However, for the sake of her boy, it might be an option that she’s forced to consider.
I told her to look at her school marks from last year (all level 7 marks – so 70/80 % and up). I told her to remember that she wants to be a journalist. I told her to look at what she has already accomplished – to look at her little boy and see this gorgeous, healthy, happy child who she has raised. Other people would not have managed what she has managed, would not have achieved what she has. Would not love their child as she does. This is something to be proud of. This is something to live for and be motivated by.
She has nothing to be ashamed of. She has only to keep going, to not give up and keep moving forward. She felt better afterwards, and I’m glad. Guilt and shame kill motivation, kill hope. It kills people.
So no – I will not ever be saying that she was stupid. She made a decision once which may not have been the right one at the time. As we all do. And here she is, dealing with it, as those same people demand that she do.
Anyway. Enough of that. Here are some beautiful pictures of some beautiful people.