Mark Hensen -- Scarab

The Call

part of: The Archives of Raynah

by Colin Cameron

Speech Given During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Fort Collins, CO, October, 1997

Hello. I am Colin Cameron. I welcome you all to the third annual vigil in memory of the victims of domestic violence in the year since our last gathering. Since October of 1996, in Larimer County, at least 1,210 families, women and children, men and boys have suffered domestic violence in their homes.

Homes that should be sanctuary, safety, calm, and retreat have instead suffered violence, yelling, hitting, name calling, pain, injury, danger and even death. Homes that instead of sanctuary, are full of fear – frightening places where no one who lives there can count on anything… except danger

…... danger at home.

At home.
In your home.
In my home.

Based on hard numbers provided by law enforcement in Colorado Springs, I have extrapolated the following: In the United States in the last 12 months law enforcement has been called about 27 million times for domestic violence.

In Colorado in the last 12 months law enforcement has been called about 364 thousand times for domestic violence.

In Larimer County in the last 12 months law enforcement has been called about 20 thousand times for domestic violence. Domestic disturbance.
Domestic pain and suffering. Times and places where families have suffered the pain, the yelling, the name calling, the fear, the tragedy of domestic violence.

What I really want to know is, how many times in Larimer County in the last 12 months has violence occured in the home, and nobody called?

How many times in Colorado in the last 12 months has violence occurred in the home, and nobody called?

How many times in the United States in the last 12 months has violence occurred in the home, and nobody called?

In 1996 staff at Crossroads Safehouse accepted 3,000 calls from women who did not feel safe in their own homes. In 1996 staff at Crossroads Safehouse offered housing, counseling and support to 143 women and 168 children from Larimer County. I am Colin Cameron. I am 47 years old. I am the mother of sons. I am the grandmother of sons. These numbers are NOT alright with me.

I want for my sons, my grandsons, my daughters, my sisters, and my brothers…. peace. Sanctuary. Harmony. Calm.

I call upon myself, and you, my brothers, my sisters, my daughters, my sons, and my grandsons….. To ask for peace. Ask for calm. Accept nothing less.

Ask for sanctuary, and give it.
Ask for truth, and let the truth be heard.
Ask to be heard, and listen.
Ask to be valued, and value.
Learn that these problems, the hard parts, aren’t about them. They are about us.

We can ask each other for our truth, but we cannot tell each other’s truth. I cannot tell YOUR truth, nor can you tell mine. We can only attempt to tell the truth as it is for US, and to listen to each other’s truth, as we share it. Gently.

In Colorado, Domestic Violence is a crime against the state. Perpetrators of Domestic Violence commit a crime, not only against their own families, but against you, and your family. And against me, and mine. It is up to us to respond to violence, every time we see it, every time we hear it, every time – and let the people who perpetrate violence know that we see them, we hear them, and that violence is NOT OKAY.

Think of another way.

Violence cannot solve anything – violence cannot fix anything. It hasn’t ever. Not in thousands of years. It did not last year. It will not tonight. It will not solve anything, tomorrow. Violence doesn’t make ANYTHING better.

Somewhere in the past, we can probably name when, some of us learned that love meant hitting. Love meant yelling. Love meant fear. Somewhere in the past, we can probably name when, some of us learned that love means control – that “if you loved me you would.. .... ” That somebody has to be “in charge”, and that somebody has to be “subservient”. We learned that “love” is loud, “love” is hurtful, and life is full of chaos. Somewhere we learned that. Probably at home. Sometimes at school.

Somebody taught us, by yelling and hitting, that THAT was how people who cared about each other acted. Somebody taught us, by violence and because they were bigger than us, that THEY had power, and WE had NO POWER.

Somebody taught us, by hurtful words and threats, that THAT was how love worked.

Well, somebody lied.

On the day you were born, you were born with all the power you will ever need. You were born with the power to be who you are. You were BORN with that. No one can take your power, unless you give it up. No one can UNDERMINE your power, unless you don’t believe it’s yours. No one can strip you of your power. You were born with it, like you were born with a nose, or a soul. NO ONE can take it away – except you. You can give it up. Don’t.

The people who really love you want you to have your power always, and they want theirs. The people who really love you will never treat you badly, or hit you, or tell you you are stupid. That is NOT how love works.

You get to keep your power, just yours; they get to keep their power, just theirs – because that’s enough. You don’t need more power. I don’t need more. We, each of us, have enough. We can’t take another’s power – Taking power is a lie – it doesn’t work – it can’t be done. And the only person you have any power over, is you.

No, really.

On the day after you were born, you began to learn INFLUENCE. You began to learn to ask for what you needed. And you either got it, or you didn’t. And from that you learned what INFLUENCE was worth.

We influence each other, every day, in every way, as we exchange ideas, and share space, and live together on this tiny world. We influence each other, every day, in every way, as we respond to each other. “Good evening.” “Hello. How are you?” “Excuse me.” “I beg your pardon.”
“Thank you.”
“I don’t like it when you…”
“I love it when you…”

No. Really.

We influence each other, and we influence our sons, and our daughters, and our sisters, and our brothers – by our methods of telling our truth, and by our response.

How do you tell what is true for you? Loudly? Whisper. What will happen if the people around you don’t agree with what is true for you? Will you hit them? Will they hit you? Will you yell? Will they? What will you do? THEN what will happen?

What is your reponse to the people around you? What is your reponse to a hard day at work, or concerns about money, or a Colorado sunset? What is your response to the requests of the people you care about? How DO you respond?

If you are fearful, is your response full of fear? Yes. Isnt it?

What are you afraid of?

If you are comfortable, is your response comforting? Yes. Isn’t it?

What is comfort in your world?

If you are angry, is your response full of anger? Yes. Isn’t it. What will you do with your anger? It doesn’t have to be anger AND violence. It doesn’t have to be anger, and threats. That can change, if you will change it.

Who is reponsible for your response?

You are.

Only you.

No one else.

No. Really.

When I was a little girl in Cheyenne, Wyoming, my father flew with the Wyoming Air National Guard. He was tall, and dark, and beautiful. He was a very intelligent, talented man and a fine pilot. I used to go and visit him at the Guard, in Cheyenne. There was safety there, and strength, and everybody knew who he was, and everybody knew me. I used to ask my father about the Guard, and how it worked, and he would explain it to me.
I remember being there when the alarms went off, and it was SCRAMBLE, and I remember watching all the pilots run to the airplanes, and take off – practicing for air attack. I remember asking him how all the pilots could take off, and not run in to each other. He told me the tower directed them all, and they all listened to the people in the tower. I asked him what they would do if there was no one in the tower, and he said, “There is always somebody in the tower.”

When I was a little girl in Cheyenne, Wyoming, this was a great comfort to me. One day I remember, my brownie troupe was going on an outing to visit the tower at the Guard. Our leader took us there, to the tower, and parked the car. She went up alone. When she came down, she was flushed, and upset. I remember asking her, “Aren’t we going?” She said, “There is nobody there.”

Now that I’m grown, I realize that some mistake was made, for the day, or the time, or maybe something unexpected was happening, and we couldn’t visit that day. But that isn’t what she said. She said there was nobody there. I knew that was not true. I knew that There is ALWAYS SOMEBODY IN THE TOWER.

So I asked her to let me out, and I would walk to meet my father at the guard. She must have been really upset, because I was about 7 years old, and she let me out. I walked along the highway for about 3 miles. It was a very long way, to me. All around the perimeter fence, and when I walked across the lot, into the guard building, someone asked me, “What can I do for you?” Once again I was safe, and secure, and protected. And I knew that the leader was wrong, mistaken somehow, or uninformed, because THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEBODY IN THE TOWER.

Now that I’m grown, of course, I realize that the somebody who is always in the tower, is me. In my tower. And the somebody who is always in your tower is you. There is ALWAYS somebody there. Whether you listen, or not, whether you remember, or not, there is always SOMEBODY there, trying to direct you, and guide you, in honesty, gentleness, and truth. Because that is the power you were born with.

That’s why you are responsible for your reponses to the people around you, and I am responsible for my responses to the people around me. Always. Every time.

It doesn’t really matter if, when we were smaller, we learned that hitting was helping, or yelling was love. Those were the lies that either somebody taught us, or nobody took time to refute. The lies of the time, and the place. It doesn’t really matter if, when we were smaller, we learned that violence is okay.

It never was.

Somebody lied. Violence is never okay, and now we can change what we learned, and learn another way. A more peaceful way, a more responsible way, a more adult way.

If we attempt to INFLUENCE by violence, who will we lose? Ourselves? Each other? Everything? And then wonder why we feel, and are, so alone? NO ONE who suffers violence in their home needs to stay there. ANYONE who suffers violence in the home can, should, and probably will escape from that violence. If we respond to each other violently, and the people we supposedly love LEAVE us, what have we gained? INFLUENCE is not violence. VIOLENCE is not love. And CONTROL of others is the greatest myth of all. We can only control OURSELVES. Let go of the myth of control over others – it doesn’t work – it is violence against the very soul.

So what if you learned violence? So what if I did? It’s time to get over it, get beyond it. Even if I learned violence, shall I perpetuate violence? No.
Shall you? No, why would you? Did it work for you? Did it make you feel good, strong, capable? Ir did it make you feel sick, confused, scared?

So what if I learned fear at home, and loud voices, and fists. Shall I respond loudly, and with my fists, or a club? No. Violence only works to teach violence. If I am really all grown up now, and if you really are all grown up now, NOW is the time to repond to fear, loud voices and fists in a different way.

I can, and you can, do it differently.

Violence IS NEVER okay. We can respond differently, without violence. Yes, we can. We must – when violence in the home stops, it will be because you and I made it stop.

I have a theory that I need your help to test. It’s a very simple theory, really. One day, maybe tomorrow, some great strong man in some locker room somewhere will describe to his friends how he really “taught the wife a lesson” or how he really “smacked her good.”

And on that day, his friends will say to him, “What’s the matter with you?! That’s not okay! Can’t you do something besides THAT?!” And they will be heard. And because they are strong, like him, he will listen. Not because he is afraid of them, but because he wants to be accepted – and if violence is not okay, with his friends, with his buds, then he will learn a different way. They might just teach him.

One day, maybe tomorrow, some parent will begin to lose their temper in the grocery store with some small child who wants a treat, and somebody, maybe you, will quietly say, “Whoa. Easy there. Gently, please.” And will be heard. And because we are more alike than we are different, that parent will take a deep breath, and will say, “Thanks.” And will let the child be the child, and the parent will be big. Too big to lose a temper. (Children have temper tantrums. Adults know other ways.)

There are no excuses for our violent responses. We all get angry. What will you do with your anger? We all get frustrated. So? We all get scared. What will your response be?

Not “If she would only” or “if he had only” or “She MADE me…..” No. You have control only over your own self. Will you listen to the power you were born with? Will you listen to the tower? Or will you listen to the lies you learned, and become violent? Will you keep doing what doesn’t work, what hurt you, or will you learn a new way?

On the day you call on yourself, and on the people around you, peacefully, quietly, for a different response than the one we learned, on that day, domestic violence will stop.

Thank you. Are there any questions?