Academic journal article Fordham Urban Law Journal

Overcoming Barriers in Communities

Academic journal article Fordham Urban Law Journal

Overcoming Barriers in Communities

Article excerpt

Panelists

MARIA ARIAS
Supervising Attorney, Battered
Women's Rights Clinic, Main
Street Legal Services

EVELYN CARDONA
Executive Director,
North Brooklyn Coalition
Against Family Violence

ANGELA LEE
Associate Director,
New York Asian Women's Center

MIRCIA SANCHEZ
Director, COBRA; Coordinator
for Specialized Victim Services,
Harlem Dowling West Side Center
for Children and Family Services

ANURADHA SHARMA
Executive Director,
SAKHI for South Asian Women

NECHAMA WOLFSON
President,
Shalom Task Force
Evelyn Cardona (1)

Executive Director
North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence (2)

[Videotaped Testimony:]

BLACK WOMAN: You know, when he put that gun to my head, I knew that was it. The reason I knew it was it is because the girls were there. The girls saw everything. And that night, we were just so crazy trying to get out of that small apartment, running around from this crazy man. We were screaming. We were hysterical. And I said that would never happen again.

But you know what is really weird? I did not do it for me; I did it for them. I did not do it for me. But what they saw that day was fifteen years of abuse and ugliness that I had always tried to hide. I said I would not do it any more.

You know, the girls are the most important thing in my life. They are the things I love most. They are the priority. They are the good and the bad of me. But I am really fearful of doing what the lawyer I saw told me to do.

You see, I am afraid of losing him. When I went to talk to that lawyer, I was trying to let her know I do not know this system. It just doesn't feel right.

You know, at one point I was on welfare, and that was tough, trying to figure out that whole system. Now I am working and do not have to deal with that. I talked to the kids' teachers. But I will tell you, this legal system, these lawyers, these judges, the social workers--I am not sure I can do this.

So I consulted you because somebody suggested I should. But as I look at you, you look like me. Your skin color is the same as mine. Your hair texture is the same as mine. You speak to me in a language I understand, but do not understand. I do not know if you get what I am saying to you. You see, my experiences have been oppression in many ways. I have been raped. I have been sodomized.

I have dealt with racism and sexism in ways you could never understand. My womanhood, my womanhood itself, has been taking the place of that. I just do not think you can imagine. While I know you are trying to help me out, some of what you suggest does not work for me. I need you to understand that.

So, as you make a suggestion, the solution may not be good for me, or based on my experiences. My reality is different from yours. You are telling me to file for an order of protection. What is that really going to do for me?

I am thinking about going into a shelter. I put in my application. Won't that open up a whole can of worms that have been put to rest? You know, he said he would kill me if I went any further with this.

My mother said, "What is your problem? Black people do not call the police in Harlem. They do not do that. The police are not our friends." My sister says I am a traitor. She is not even talking to me.

What I wanted out of life was a family, children I could hug and love, and a relationship with someone who respects me. I did not get that. I absolutely did not get that. I am not sure about this order of protection; even though I can get child support, I do not know if it is worth it.

Do you get what I am saying? I am not sure.

Somehow I find myself in family court. Well, I will tell you. This is one heck of a place. I have been here since 9:30, and it is 4:00 now. My case was just heard. By the way, I had to look at him from across the way because he made bail. I did not realize, but I heard later from the guard downstairs. …

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