The New York Times published this amazing op-ed by Courtney Queeney on June 30. Ms. Queeney is an award-winning poet and abuse survivor who lives in Chicago. “The View From the Victim Room” touched my soul:
If anyone had asked me before my beating if I would defend myself when attacked, I would have said yes, of course I would.
But I didn’t. . .It never occurred to me that someone who claimed to love me would hit me so deliberately and repeatedly. As he hit me, my field of vision shrank to the space inhabited by his swinging fists. . .It turns out protecting your face takes a great deal of effort when someone is hell bent on wrecking it. . .
I loved my life. . .The Respondent [her ex-boyfriend] could have taken it. He could have snapped my neck. He could have gotten to his guns if he weren’t so busy punching me.
I wanted to weep with joy, because he didn’t. And I did weep. And then the light [at the intersection] changed, and I crossed [the street gripping her two-year order of protection].
After I shared the op-ed on Facebook, Kit Gruelle commented that Ms. Queeney should have had an advocate with her for all the court hearings she had to attend before the judge finally granted a two-year order of protection. Ms. Gruelle is the director of Private Violence, a wonderful documentary about the arduous path from victim to survivor. I have steadfastly supported the film because Ms. Gruelle is correct. Everyone should have an advocate with her. But, in Chicago and most places, we’re on our own.
Courtney Queeney has written Filibuster to Delay a Kiss, and Other Poems and was featured in Three New Poets.
“The View From the Victim Room,” New York Times, June 30, 2013 [op-ed]
Private Violence: A Media Project to End Violence Against Women in America [documentary film]
“Let’s Not Forget Teen Dating Violence as We Talk About Bullying” by Cindy Waitt, executive producer of Bully and Private Violence.
Hi–this is Courtney. I wanted to clarify that I did have a (free) lawyer during my court proceedings courtesy of the DVLC (Domestic Violence Legal Clinic) of Cook County. She was awesome–patient, dedicated, and kind in what was, to me, a terrifying situation. I have been back to the DVC, as I’m in the process of writing more about DV, and the majority of people I’ve seen either pursuing Orders of Protection or summoned their as the Respondent of one have not had lawyers. Many of them seemed to not be aware that free legal representation was available. Chicagoans: it is! Based on my own experiences, I would urge anyone in a similar position to take advantage of the resources available.
Thank you for posting this.