Speaking Up, Speaking Out...
Against Domestic Violence

An awareness and visibility project around issues of domestic violence in various communities.


The Explanation

About this Project:

As the subtitle explains, this is an awareness and visibility project. I took on this task as my final project in the SWG (Study of Women & Gender) seminar I'm taking at Smith this semester (Spring 2006), "Redefining Community: South Asian Women's Cultural Production." As the title implies, the course itself revolved around South Asian cultures, both in the geographical location of South Asia (India, Pakistan, etc.) and in the South Asian diasporas in the UK and the US. In the context of this class, we discussed domestic violence and rape in South Asian communities, and I was struck by the lack of culturally-sensitive services in the diaspora and by the lack of any widespread, effective services in South Asian countries. This led me to think about the silence(s) around all forms of domestic violence and violence against women, the structures that support and perpetuate these silences, and the ways that these silences may be broken - not just in South Asia and the diaspora, but in every part of the world. I decided that these silences must be broken, and that I wanted to be a part of helping that to happen. (And if I can get academic credit for it, too, all the better.)

The Project (Logistics).
This project will, then, consist of stories that have been emailed to me at the address listed in the sidebar (below the Important Note). I will edit these stories only to ensure that they fit the formatting of this blog. The space of hir post will be hir safe space, and my part in this will only be to provide and facilitate this space. Out of concern for maintaining this blog as a safe space, then, I will be moderating comments.

I will also add to the resources listed on the sidebar as the project progresses, and will link to relevant resources based on the circumstances of the stories that get shared. In addition, there will be some posts to which I will attach a companion post including an annotated bibliography of a scholarly source relevant to the story told in the post.

The choice of venue.
The internet is (or at least, has the potential to be) a worldwide forum. Yes, there are tons of accessibility issues - who has access, when, and how - but out of all the publishing contexts that are currently available, the internet, I think, is the most accessible and far-reaching. And so I decided to bring my visibility and awareness project here, where it could (potentially) reach the most people and allow the most diverse group of people to share their stories.

A note on methodologies.
I acknowledge that this is not entirely unproblematic. First, the issues around accessibility will inevitably erase a number of stories. The fact that I am providing a space for these stories to be told, too, is worrisome, and I fear that as much as I try not to, I may end up appropriating these people's stories by virtue of my privilege in creating and maintaining this space. The language limitation, too, based on my own limitations, is an issue, since I myself am not bilingual (I speak a very small amount of French), and the rest of the world is not universally English-speaking.
I hope, however, that my awareness of these issues, and other issues that arise, will move toward making these issues slightly less problematic.

To explain why I took on this project in the first place, why I am part of this fight against domestic violence and violence against women, I'll end with this, a poem by Ntozake Shange (a poet/playwright/author/professor at the University of Florida)

from nappy edges (1978):

with no immediate cause

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
every five minutes a
woman is raped/every ten minutes
a lil girl is molested
yet i rode the subway today
i sat next to an old man who
may have beaten his old wife
3 minutes ago or 3 days/30 years ago
he might have sodomized his
daughter but i sat there
cuz the young men on the train
might beat some young women
later in the day or tomorrow
i might not shut my door fast
every 3 minutes it happens
some woman's innocence
rushes to her cheeks/pours from her mouth
like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn
apart/their mouths
menses red & split/every
three minutes a shoulder
is jammed through plaster and the oven door/
chairs push thru the rib cage/hot water or
boiling sperm decorate her body
i rode the subway today
& bought a paper from a
man who might
have held his old lady onto
a hot pressing iron/i don't know
maybe he catches lil girls in the
park & rips open their behinds
with steel rods/i can't decide
what he might have done i only
know every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/so
i bought the paper
looking for the announcement
the discovery/of the dismembered
woman's body/the
victims have not all been
identified/today they are
naked and dead/refuse to
testify/one girl out of 10's not
coherent/i took the coffee
& spit it up/i found an
announcement/not the woman's
bloated body in the river/floating
not the child bleeding in the
59th street corridor/not the baby
broken on the floor/
there is some concern
that alleged battered women
might start to murder their
husbands & lovers with no
immediate cause"

i spit up i vomit i am screaming
we all have immediate cause
every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes
every 10 minutes
every day
women's bodies are found
in alleys & bedrooms/at the top of the stairs
before i ride the subway/buy a paper/drink
coffee/i must know/
have you hurt a woman today
did you beat a woman today
throw a child across a room
are the lil girl's panties
in yr pocket

did you hurt a woman today
i have to ask these obscene questions
the authorities require me to
immediate cause
every three minutes
every five minutes
every ten minutes
every day.


  • At 4/23/2006 6:02 PM, Blogger bmmg39 said…


    An Internet friend referred me to your project. I am fortunate to say that I've never been victimized by domestic abuse, but the issue is important to me. I have one very important question to ask you, though:

    Will male victims of abuse be fairly represented in your study? Abused men and boys often receive little or no mention when the topic of DV is raised. We must recognize the fact that women often hurt men, too, and that this is just as much an injustice as when the reverse occurs.

    Brian Gillin
    Stop Abuse For EVERYONE

  • At 5/12/2006 12:29 AM, Blogger Jen said…

    I've responded to your concern via email already (basically: it is not a very wide-reaching study and while my aspirations were to be as inclusive as possible, the representation of DV victims/survivors is dependent on those who submit pieces).

    However, I would like to voice my concern with your heterosexual assumption of male DV victims. You completely leave out the large group of male victims who are abused by their male partners, which, unfortunately, is pretty much par for the course for most DV activists and scholars.

    Yes, women abuse men too. But men abuse men as well, and that's even more overlooked, even by the "men's rights advocates."

    I appreciate your concern with representation, but this project is explicitly anti-heterosexism, so please check your heterosexism at the door.

  • At 7/18/2006 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Let me start by saying I was a battered women for many years I had a restraint order he wasnt afraid of the restraint order it was more of an invitation to come after me more.I called the police before the attack that he was in my yard but when the police got there had been stabbed numerous times and the police officer stood in shock and did nothing.I am a survivor,you believe they will change,you pray they change but they never do I have had to go through severe counceling for a long while I was afraid to leave the house afraid of my own shadow afraid to breath and most of all afraid of life.I know that i will never get over this but I have moved on and I just take every day as they come and I know I can get through this because I am strong I will survive.

  • At 10/25/2006 1:57 AM, Anonymous TeenWithDream said…

    hey im a school girl studying domestic violence and your poem made me think! in 3 minuets, 3 days or 30 years will i be one of thoes girls???????

  • At 2/06/2007 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this site is realli eye opening it brings forward the case of d.v and makes me and others im sure want to do something about it . thats why as a yr 11 sociology gcse student i am studying dv to try and show people that it is going on behind closed doors, wether you want 2 think bowt it or nt . . . . xjdx

  • At 2/06/2007 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    the poem made me think and i hope it makes others think 2 dv needs 2 b stopped .

  • At 10/03/2007 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is there a way to reach out to the person responsible for this site directly? I am involved in a case right now and would like to have direct private contact. Email? By the way, thank you so much for this site! In my long battle for justice this is the first time i have found any sort of clarity.

  • At 2/17/2008 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am a victim of domestic violence. I had a wonderful, happy, and safe childhood with a wonderful family. Then I grew up and fell in love with a man who pretended to be charming and loving and kind and sweet. We got married and had a lovely wedding. He was a monster. He did everything from try or threaten to murder me, to destroy my art, to causing me bruises. He is also an alcoholic. His dad is on wife #3 and his mom was the wife #2. His dad always left the families by cheating. I believe his dad was also an abuser. Nobody could ever discuss this. His dad is a very wealthy CEO. I see the author of this blog lives in Northampton, MA and attends Smith. This is interesting to note since this man and his family are from there. My husband was born there. The family eventually moved to MN. When I learned the man had a gun and wanted to kill me with it and when it became clear that no matter how much he lied about it, he would never stop being a drunk, I obtained a restraining order. This was difficult. It was initially denied and my life was put at risk. The cops have repeatedly been asses to me as has the court system. My stupid ass of a husband simply shows up to court with his mama and brother or girlfriend or boss or whoever and just lies lies lies lies. Going to court only makes the trauma worse. Seeing him, seeing those who show up as his "moral support" only make the situation more traumatic. I will have to repeat this process every October since the restraining order only lasts for a year at a time and every time the man shows up and lies and makes life hell. I am finally divorced from the ass, but he has put me in poverty. My home is in foreclosure. His shit is still in the garage. His dad is still a rich CEO. Yes, the daughter-in-law of a rich and overpaid CEO was on food stamps and medical assistance and had to go to the food shelf! I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, replaying the horrors over and over and over again. The pain and the memories and the trauma never seem to leave. I once thought I was in love and would spend my life with my love. Hard to do that when your love wants to cut your life short. Now after destroying my art he has committed copyright infringement. He is a musician and I am an artist and he stole my art and put it on his stupid band website. Despite the fact that we are divorced, I have a restraining order, and he has a girlfriend, he refuses to stop being a shit to me. I wish I had never met the man. I had a good life before him and he has destroyed my happiness. I feel broken. The emotional pain is worse than any of the bruises were. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the worst of any of this. It's great you are looking into this issue, and I really wish the cops weren't such asses, that the courts weren't so misogynistic. These asshole good 'ol boys club members get away with murder, no pun intended. I could easily become a news story and a statistic since the man only wants me dead. Still the police don't care. The man cyberstalks and harasses me on venues such as MySpace and nothing is ever done about it because the police don't give a shit and probably just beat their own wives anyway. My ex has practically driven me to the point of suicide, but miraculously I am still here.

    The police need MUCH better training because most of them are asses. The judges need training. Even the supposed places that are supposed to help the victims need more training. There needs to be more help for the victims. We end up often in extreme poverty and nobody in society gives a shit. Our heat gets turned off and we practically get spit on by society for being poor due to shitty circumstance. People say, "Just leave". Well, I did leave and I'm still suffering from his abuse. Financial abuse is very real as well. Emotional pain never seems to go away. I got turned down from a job due to "depression".

    One interesting tidbit, my former mother-in-law attended Smith College! One of my former brothers-in-law works there now! Just think that you have classmates who will give birth to violent men and your classmates won't give a crap about their daughter-in-law. The woman cared more about her McMansion in the suburbs while I went into poverty. The woman was "moral support" for her abusive son, the asshole who tried to kill me. The woman has a degree from Smith. I wish Smith would revoke that woman's degree as she clearly learned nothing from the supposed feminist college and she gave birth to an abusive ass of a man and did not care or take responsibility for the crud that came out of her body.

  • At 4/19/2008 4:48 PM, Blogger I am Jenn said…

    I will not post my entire story in a comment. ... but I am a two time domestic violence survivor. Two different relationships, both misdemeanor level. Since I was 21 I have had 2 years of protection orders and have lived in fear, jumping state to state with children. Other than financial ruin from the assaults, I have been going on with my life.. (or at least trying)

    I have begun a blog as a part of my therapy to help me change whatever causes me to end up in these situations.


    Do you have a feed of this blog because I really like what you are doing here and would like to post updates to my site as they come. I think my readers (when I get some) will enjoy (and learn lots) from your site. I would prefer not to do a link.. because people are less likely to click on it.

  • At 5/07/2008 1:57 PM, Blogger CarpentersvilleActionNetwork said…


    I happened to come across your site while looking for resources about domestic violence.

    I wanted to alert you to a situation that is going on right now in a Chicago suburb of Carpentersville, IL.

    A member of the city council was convicted of attacking his wife with a baseball bat. He was not charged with aggravated battery, though; only domestic battery.

    Last night, the city council said that he could stay in his position and then they voted to take away some powers of the mayor who was trying to have him removed for his crime.

    He has done this before, and was never brought up on charges.

    It is a scary situation that I think needs attention, and some help in getting the word out about.

    Thank you for your time and efforts.


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