My Protection Circle


We all need “protection circles” ~ to be surrounded by people who are there for us ~ to celebrate the good times and to weather stormy seas.

Yet, by definition, domestic violence is isolating.  We can become alienated from those who were once dear to us because we are ashamed about what’s happening behind closed doors or because a controlling person in our lives demands we cut our ties or is hyper-critical of our friends, family, or colleagues.

If, like me, you find your safety means relocating and joining an Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), you will have to create a new protection circle.  Today’s post is about how I did it.

On the four month anniversary of this web site being live, I also want to take a moment to honor the people nearest and dearest to me ~ to thank them for their support and friendship ~ to celebrate with them how far we’ve come on our journeys.

6-13-2009-3

Ricci is my rock.  I trust her with my life.  We have been friends for decades and call each other “sista.”  This photo was taken of us in 1992 when I thought I had the world by the tail.  I had just met a man who I believed was the love of my life.  Oh, happy days!

6-13-2009-5

This photo was taken at Ricci’s 50th birthday after-party.  Everybody called Ricci’s mother “Mama Glo.”  Her name was Gloria, and her dream was to be in the audience for a taping of the Oprah show.  Sadly, Mama Glo has passed, but Ricci, her sisters, and I are determined to honor Mama Glo’s memory by making it happen.  Mama Glo loved to joke that I was her “woodpile baby.”

Ricci’s instincts are phenomenal.  She had radar for when the abuse was about to happen, and she’d call me.  “Are you OK?  You are on my mind.”  She helped me to know when it was time to head for my cousin’s mountain cabin ~ a place so isolated and remote that I have trouble finding it even though I’ve been there several times.

Cabin

My cousin has been protecting me since we were kids.  In this next photo taken at our grandfather’s farm, I’m nestled in her lap, and she’s got her arms circled around me.  I was safe.

Drake Cousins

My cousin introduced me to her cousin-in-law Winnie, and she became my guardian angel.  I relocated to Washington State on Winnie’s birthday, and we celebrated her life with a memorial service.  This next photo is of Winnie (second from left), her soon-to-be husband Clair, and their friends from Alaska.

Winnie

My move to Washington was arduous ~ lots of thunderstorms and tornadoes ~ I was driving a rental truck and towing a car through the mountains ~ the car dolly tires had slow leaks and ultimately went flat about 100 miles from my destination.  I abandoned the rental truck in order to make Winnie’s memorial service on time.  Then, I spent my first night in my new apartment sleeping on the floor.  Except for my cousin, I didn’t know a soul.  I had to sever ties with everyone I knew except for my parents and Ricci.

But, because of this handsome prince of a man ~ Dutch ~ I had a lovely apartment waiting for me.  I found Dutch by getting lost trying to find the auto repair place that did a lousy job of fixing my car.  His mother had experienced dometic violence, and he has been a champion for me.  He’s helped me overcome many obstacles and has been a rock of support for 10 years.  He’s the best property manager on the planet.

DutchSchultz

After I got the keys to my apartment, I went to Safeway to stock up.  I was out of cash and didn’t know if they’d cash my out-of-state check (pre-debit cards).  I didn’t have a credit card because using them is like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for a stalker to follow.  I will never, ever forget Terri’s smiling face.  She welcomed me to Washington and figured out how to get me a Safeway card.  For ten years, I have cherished her generous heart and charming attitude.  She makes a difference in everyone’s life.

Terri

I was very guarded and shy.  It was extraordinarily difficult for me to trust strangers and make new friends.  But, Kathy Gill’s Southern charm embraced me.  She and her fiance Mike were my first Washington friends.  They are technological geniuses who are perpetually on the cutting edge, and they have enormous patience for my naivete.

 Mike & Kathy

Eve Ensler came to Seattle to work on her new play, and I was blessed to meet her.  She and her staff have been extraordinarily generous and supportive.  This photo from V-Day to the Tenth, I think, captures the essence of her brilliant spirit.

 EveEnslerVDay10

The upside of being a newbie in an ACP is that I had lots of time to read and reflect.  I used the time to try to understand the dynamics of healthy relationships ~ how to establish and maintain them.  I volunteered for political campaigns, did the Artist’s Way, and went to writing seminars to meet new people and expand my horizons.  I hung out at the pool at my apartment complex and welcomed new neighbors.  It took me a very long time to get my sea legs.

One by one, my protection circle grew.  My new friends and colleagues are brilliant, warm, generous, funny, courageous, resourceful, empathetic, and charming.  All have tremendous integrity and wisdom.

The Russians. . .Elena, Galina, and Yury. . .on vacation. . .

2007-Yury,Galina,Elena-LVhorseriding

Carole May, web goddess and marine naturalist. . .doing what she does best. . .

Carole May

Karlyn, photography student. . .how about that self-portrait?

Karlyn

Fellow writer and advertising executive extraordinaire, Kiwi Mary (in blue). . .sending friendship and support each week over the Internet from New Zealand. . .

KiwiMary

My amazing hairdresser Raquel. . .

Raquel

I love you all and feel so grateful and blessed that you are a part of my life’s experience.

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8 responses to “My Protection Circle

  1. This was a very nice tribute that you’ve created. I appreciate all that you’ve said. Continue gathering good people in your life and keep up the good work. It does take work, but it’s all rewarding when you can gather such resources as you have done.

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  4. Hi Caroline…. hope you are doing well. I was searching for Judy on the internet and found your website. I know my Grandma (Winnie Schmitz) would be happy to know that she made a difference in your life, just like she did in so many people’s lives with her wisdom and unconditional love. Seeing her picture on your blog brought a smile to my face.. she is the person who brought me strength in times when I didnt have it in myself and she was also my best friend. Thank you for remembering her. Another incredible soul is Judy and I would love to know how to get in touch with her. If you wouldnt mind passing this message onto her I would truly appreciate it. All my blessings to you and I am glad to hear that you have the support & love in your life that you so deserve. All my best…. Kelley

  5. OMG, Kelley. How ARE you??? I have missed the connection to your family so much. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of dear Winnie. She was absolutely the BEST. I have an angel that I see every day that I got to celebrate her life when she passed. I still celebrate her birthday every year.

    Your grandmother and Marcy made one hell of a difference in my life. I can still here their laughter. I will e-mail you privately with Judy’s contact information. I’m sure she’ll be delighted to hear from you. I do hope all is well.

    Bless you for leaving a message. You have made my day.

    Sending lots of hugs,
    Anne Caroline

  6. Hello Ms. Drake,
    I hope this reply finds you well. I am new to your site. I have been trying to reach President Bill Clinton, with whom I absolutely love, to let him know of the protection problems with VAWA. There are no laws for adult on adult bullying, which I am experiencing in the legal sector from a Judge, attorney’s, and doctors and believe bullying is just another form of violence and should be added to the VAWA. I have broken the rules and taped my trial, because no one would believe me against a Judge, attorney’s and doctor’s. SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON says, “There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable. And, “Break the silence. When you witness violence against women and girls, do not sit back. Act.” Last week I received my denial from the Appellate Court on many issues of bullying, and the effects from abuse of authority. I’m not sure if you can help me, but no one seems to be interested in my violated experience. There is truly a multitude of corruption at large. I will not be silent.
    Kristi

  7. Kristi,

    Welcome to my site! I hope you find information here that will help you.

    Pres. Clinton appears to be more focused now on international issues and less interested in VAWA. The VAWA champion is V.P. Joe Biden.

    As a retired attorney, I can assure you that bullying is sadly at the heart of our country’s legal system ~ it is why I hated litigation ~ the fights can be brutal. Appellate courts don’t review issues of facts ~ they are restricted to the review of legal issues. In other words, did the judge make an error of law ~ in the simplest of terms ~ did the judge decide that cabbage is actually pork? It isn’t like appealing to a boss in the corporate sector.

    Judges, unfortunately, don’t get much scrutiny when they make mistakes on matters of facts ~ like being unable to recognize an abusive spouse or someone who isn’t credible.

    In theory, ethics panels discipline judges and attorneys for misconduct. But, I’ve seen a whole lot of horrendously unethical conduct which never seems to rise to an ethical violation. It is why I quit practicing law ~ legal ethics frown on attorneys who blow the whistle. Now that I’m no longer licensed, I can tell it like it is. The harsh reality is that a courtroom isn’t an ideal place to find justice. Ironic, eh? Sad too.

    I love the quote you cited. In Eve Ensler’s latest book, she takes a solid shot across the bow at the UN for their failure to meaningfully intervene in egregious cases of violence against women. I guess talk is indeed cheap. It is in actions that we discover truth and strength of character.

    Kristi, I wish I could offer you more hope. The only thing I can say for sure is that you aren’t alone. I was bullied and abused by a man who became a state supreme court judge. Ironically, he was on his state’s appellate court when he abused me. He was elected supreme court judge on the platform that he had extensive experience in family and child abuse. Right. Hands-on experience.

    A significant number of people in law enforcement (cops, prosecutors, attorneys, judges) where he lives have been abusive behind closed doors. And, this is the real reason so many people have a hard time getting any justice within the “justice” system.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources to help individual people. I respond to almost all comments to the best of my ability. The documentary Bully did a lot to help people appreciate that we all need to be more civil to each other. We have sadly become a society in which it seems narcissistic bullies are rewarded and nice guys truly do end up last. Yet, I think that if folks who feel the way you do stick together that we can make a difference ~ we can demand change. Eve Ensler believes this comes more from love than angry activism, and I agree. I think it is also important to recognize and avoid engaging with a bully.

    In the end, I find there is more justice in the court of public opinion than in any court of law.

    Sending hugs,
    Anne Caroline

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