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When we think of an Underground Railroad, what images does this conjure up ? People running, often at night under the protection of darkness, to hide them, as they fled literally for their lives!

And of slavery? For nothing they themselves had ever done, they are quite literally owned by another, IF for no other reason that to do that other's bidding, whether for good or for bad.

And those people were terrified. For were they caught, they would be returned to their master owners, and punished, often with death, as a lesson to others. In fact, they and their children, anyone who knew them, would be punished to within an inch of or perhaps WITH their very lives.

The Underground Railroad in fact was the provision of escape from a cruel unyielding system giving power and control over one person, to another person, with no respect for any rights, save those of the owner, who themselves, often found they were caught up inexplicably, into a violent and controllling system. Could they have chosen to stop doing what they did? Maybe. But it would take a dramatic intervention for them to see the need. And even years later, many are certain this was "wrong" !

So concerned persons rose up, and helped those who sought safety, to escape, seek safe places northward, and find a path into places where slavery was no longer allowed. And why did they DO this? They helped out of sheer necessity. Because it was what they BELIEVED IN.

Sound familiar? It should. If you've read this far, or any of the other pages on Domestic Violence, then you too will know that even 5 years AFTER leaving a batterer, a husband, a boyfriend, the perpetrator feels defeated [Powerless], and overwhelmed. With a vengeance he will seek her, because if he can't have her, no one will.

And often no one can. She is dead, and her chidren, their children, anyone standing nearby. And the police and uniformed officers are not helpful. Because they abuse more than the other occupations put together. Those who DO step in are more like to be killed on duty from this crime, than any other crime on the books. More women are killed from Domestic Violence than muggings, rapes and auto accidents.

When I needed to leave my batterer I learned many things. Firstly, most shelters are full. Many are not run professionally. How do I KNOW ? I'm a trained Social Worker who has worked in Crisis Intervention Agencies, various others, and know what laws apply to Non-Profits (in that state). With decades of experience, who would ever think it could happen to them? Not I. But my male friends saw changes .... and because they challenged me to review Domestic Violence ... I am here and alive to write this, today!

But more than this. I know that I couldn't get in because they are full, and few if any are accessible. And I mean physically. We won't even discuss the metaphysical kinds of abuse staff workers can apply, without even trying. It happened, it is real. And when I went to a counselor about it, I was kicked out of the shelter!

But there are good laws too. In Minnesota, if the shelters are full, the Police MUST TAKE THE BATTERER AWAY, to a different place, and give him paperwork refusing to ALLOW him to come back that night. ACTION MUST BE TAKEN. It is an excellent law, written because they have long dealt with police refusal to provide services. Male Bonding, is one thing I learned from a video at the shelter in Michigan. Males sat there glibbly telling us that by getting the officers to see "how the little lady was a problem, wink wink, you KNOW how they are. Your wife's that way too sometimes. It's all hormones...." blah blah. Who wouldn't want to agree, and be part of the gang? Not the police many of whom take job stress home, and take it out on their own spouses!

This law is based on the Duluth Model, which was created BECAUSE the police refused to help. It is an excellent law which NEEDS to be used nationwide. Another excellent law there is the Malicious Reporting Law. This law says that after an investigation, further harassment construes Malicious Reporting, tying up worker's time on spousal/in-law infighting problems, when legit abuse cases need attention. This law is useful when the batterer attempt to use this to further control his victim.

I also learned that when a woman needs to flee the area, has gone from one state to the next, been found, and must flee yet again THERE SIMPLY IS NO HELP. No intra-agency network has been established. The Violence Against Women Act and Family Violence Act are there for our protection. If they wish to bring up child custody...and they will....you can protect yourself by keeping very VERY clear records. Each time he harasses you, WRITE IT DOWN. Each time he pulls a con, WRITE IT DOWN, and report it to the police. For whether or not they help, even if they get sick of you...YOU HAVE RECORDS.

But even that wasn't enough. I had records. I kept them diligently. But when it came time to flee the 5 state area (because those with money can find you just about anywhere....if you stay close enough), there was NO HELP. I could run. But when I got there, no shelter would have a room waiting for me. Why you ask?

Think about it for a minute. Let's say a woman calls. She is in a true crisis. They need a bed. They are all full but one. Yep. That one they are holding open for you! And that is why there is no real way for women to flee safely, from one state to the next, one shelter to another.

My flight is exceptional, and was exceptionally difficult. I would never wish that on anyone. But what I would wish for is an uprising of American Awareness, and a grass-roots movement to change this. We NEED an Underground Railroad, perhaps through churches, or Women's Groups. A woman could set out to go to City X. The shelter could phone the DV Group/Shelter there, and say "We have a victim fleeing from here as he has threatened her life again and the police..........." They could then ask "What day?" Get her name, how many kids, etc. They would then have a voucher for her, and have been faxed info from the shelter, with Social Security Numbers and other proof of identity. When she arrived, she would then be put up for the day or two until an opening in the shelter arose.

But shelters won't do this. Myriads of excuses....perhaps even reasonings. But I see NO REASON why every woman ought not LIVE. If staying means dying, then leaving means LIVING.

That is my story. My family did not actually survive this. But I am here to write this page, in hopes that someone will read and ACT on this dire need. It is one thing to say "Oh, how terrible" and walk away. It is an entirely different thing to say "This is awful, let's CHANGE it".

I would NOT BE HERE TODAY were it not for my internet group, who helped me, encouraged me, and ultimatly gave me not only the way to leave, but the courage to do so. I am eternally grateful for their existence. It was a group related to our Disability. They KNOW how hard it is to live with that. And they know that leaving, meant Living, for this one mother.

Please phone your local shelter and see what you can do? Ask if the Malicious Reporting Law exists in your state. If not, petition your legislators to MAKE THAT LAW YOURS. Also have the Violence Against Woman Act, with you in print, keep all of your identity and legal documentation with you at all times, and when you must...DO NOT HESITATE TO FLEE.

I made it from East Coast Time, to Pacific Time. If I can with a wheelchair, and an injured pelvis which doctors in that state refused to treat, YOU can do it too. And if telling your own family and friends, please do NOT hesitate to leave with them knowing you had no choice but to find safety. If you can, find the shelter there, and ask them to help to relocate. My friends online made it possible for us. Let's help create an Underground Railroad, and make it easier for other women to find safety!

I never received that. But I wish it for you from the bottom of my heart.

DO NOT LET HIM WIN.

Those are the words which kept me alive. Make them yours.

animated stop sign indicating STOP domestic violence

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