Women’s History Month comes along in March. You’re probably thinking of such as Betsy Ross, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa or . . .? Maybe it’s just my sense of finding hidden messages in the most unlikely places, but I find it interesting that March is Women’s History Month. Throughout the history of America, women have marched for various causes, such as the right to vote, breast cancer awareness, the March of Dimes, etc. I’d like to think that even today, through women of conviction and foresight, in the words of Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic, “His truth is marching on.”
I suppose with such a far-reaching topic, it would be easy to write ad infinitum about women’s history. Since most of the eggs in my basket regard domestic violence and sexual abuse, those will be the basis of this post.
NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON—Can we possibly consider Women’s History Month and domestic violence together without mentioning Nicole Brown Simpson? Where you were or what you were doing when you heard the jury’s verdict of “innocent” in the O.J. Simpson murder trial is a lot like JFK’s assassination or the attack on the Twin Towers – you remember. You can’t forget the impact of that moment. Nicole had called law enforcement during her marriage to Mr. Simpson, reporting she had become a victim of domestic violence. The 911 call was recorded and can be heard here. Even though Mr. Simpson was acquitted in the criminal murder trial, he was found liable in the civil trial. I’m sure many have their personal opinions as to his guilt or innocence. I will simply say this: The death of Nicole Brown Simpson catapulted domestic violence into the public eye. It brought a whole new level of awareness. Things began happening, and changing, when she was murdered. For that, I simply must mention her as an important part of Women’s History Month as it relates to domestic violence awareness.
ELLEN PENCE—Most Americans have no idea who Ellen Pence is, or what she did. Those of us who work within the arena of domestic violence awareness know all too well that in her lifetime Ellen did more for the cause of domestic violence advocacy work than perhaps any other human being to date. She was instrumental in developing the Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel. In order to do her proper justice, I simply ask that you visit the NCDSV website, scroll down and see the links in the right column. Please take time to watch the interview between Ellen and Casey Gwinn. When I viewed it at the FJC Conference in 2010, we were informed Ellen had a terminal illness and could not personally attend, thus the interview. It was her way of “being there,” as she had always been. Thus, I want to be sure she is HERE as part of Women’s History Month, remembered for all she did.
CASEY GWINN—Most of you may have never heard of Casey Gwinn. Again we mention a male who has made an enormous difference in the fight against abuse. Casey was once a District Attorney in Los Angeles. He was given the opportunity to make a go of establishing a faith-based organization that would bring together a collaboration of agencies, advocates, law enforcement, judiciary, case workers, and even clergy. Their goal was to combat domestic/intimate partner violence, abuse, sexual assault, and the like. Out of that opportunity, the dream of the Family Justice Center was born, and the organization came into existence. It is now spread across our nation, as well as in other countries. I was honored to attend their 2010 Annual International Conference in San Antonio, where I got to meet and visit with Mr. Gwinn. I can tell you most assuredly, he is the real deal, and he firmly believes in the value of a woman. For that reason, I recognize Casey Gwinn as an important part of Women’s History Month.
VICE-PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN—You are probably wondering why on earth I would mention a politician, much less a male politician, as a trailblazer for Women’s History Month. In 1994 President Bill Clinton signed into law the Violence Against Women Act, which was drafted by then Senator Joseph Biden. It is now known as VAWA. According to Wikipedia, “Reauthorization is currently being debated in the Senate. In January of 2012, it passed through the Senate judiciary committee. Every democrat on the committee voted yea, while every republican voted nay.” While many may not agree with all of VAWA, it is crucially important in the fight against violence against women. That includes domestic violence and sexual assault, and has been instrumental for nearly two decades in saving lives of victims of abuse. For that reason, I recognize Vice-President Biden during Women’s History Month for his part in bringing this vitally important act to fruition.
ABC ACTION NEWS and “TAKING ACTION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE”—A television station receiving recognition for Women’s History Month? Seriously? Yes, most definitely. ABC Action News of Tampa has produced a 1-hour prime time special, “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” for the past three years. The first two years it garnered Emmys, and pictured here are Lissette Campos, Community Affairs Director/Reporter and Jen McVan, a Producer of the program.These two ladies are two who most assuredly deserve to be mentioned during Women’s History Month.
I was featured in the 2011 segment, which has been nominated for Emmys, as well. To know there is a staff of reporters who truly and genuinely care about such an issue, and to see their dogged determination to make a difference, draw attention to such a critical topic, and especially to save lives, gives me goose bumps. It helps me believe not all media is about hype and scandal. So, with great pride I acknowledge ABC Action News and its staff as part of Women’s History Month, as they continue to work relentlessly on the “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” series, as well as year-round in the community to bring higher levels of awareness and professionalism.
There are so many women who deserve a star on the Women’s History Month Walk-of-Fame—countless women. One would be my mother. Most mothers should qualify for this recognition.
I’m sure you know at least one woman who deserves to be here, and I hope you will take a moment to add her name to this blog post. This is devoted to those women who made a difference, who are truly a part of Women’s History Month.
Carolyn S. Hennecy is a survivor of child sexual abuse and domestic violence. She works diligently as a keynote speaker and advocate, as well as offering victim services through her writing, consulting and spiritual advisement. Be sure to visit Carolyn on Facebook.