By: Mari Moss
New York City is supposed to be the most progressive city in the world. However, there are many occurrences that makes one wonder if its progressive status of advocacy and reputation to do what is right should be challenged or even taken away until proven otherwise. Many political influencers may swear by and point to policies and initiatives that are helpful to women, but somewhere in what should be the most progressive city in the world, a woman is working hard to shatter a glass ceiling and afraid to ask for a raise and promotion at work. Somewhere, a woman is balancing being a wife and the best mom she can be. Somewhere a woman is suffering in silence as she is being beaten, raped, or assaulted for fear of the stigma it will place on her life and reputation, let alone her career if she speaks up. Somewhere, yes even in NYC where feminist and womanist and powerful woman alike are supposed to have the opportunity to thrive, excel and prevail, women are being held back or, “Put in their place” never to rise to a certain level, struggling to have a voice that will help themselves and other woman break through barriers that stifle and hold them back from reaching their full potential.
Somewhere a woman feels like she needs to ask for permission to succeed. Somewhere a woman is afraid to run for public office, afraid to leave her mentally, verbally and physically abusive husband even to the detriment of her livelihood and that of her children.
Somewhere a woman who was succeeding in her career and getting an education, was classically tricked and/or gas-lighted directly or indirectly into going to the hospital by her husband/lover/boyfriend who successfully manipulated her to becoming systematically oppressed so he can control her.
Somewhere that same woman was caused further harm by a police force that was supposed to protect her against her abuser and serve her to the extent that she was to be provided with resources from organizations like safe horizons who did not receive VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) funds that would connect her to resources and save her life and her children.
Somewhere, that same woman was excluded from her home by a court system that indirectly perpetuated the extended abuse from her husband/partner/lover separating her from her very young children. Somewhere that same woman is homeless, with no where to go, and may be in a situation only best described as a catch 22 where she is not eligible to services that exclude her for any number of factors.
Somewhere that same woman is not able to see her children for months at a time while her Husband/boyfriend/lover takes their children out of state violating court orders because ingrained systematic misogyny he can.
Somewhere that same woman’s children yearn to speak to their mother struggle to sleep at night as they are exposed to people, places and things that challenge their normalcy and understanding.
Somewhere that same woman/mother was put in jail after her husband/boyfriend/ lover threw her on the floor, kicked her, and punched her because she called 911.
Somewhere, this same woman was order to pay the man who makes six figures child support because even though he was the abuser, he was able to gain sympathetic ear by corrupt, misogynistic judges, lawyers, community leaders, who allows him to be a manipulative conniving liar empowered to overturn the system enough to make the abused woman suffer.
Somewhere this same woman and her children are being scrutinized by ACS and spin off organizations that will continue to perpetuate a cycle of poverty that will be almost impossible to overcome.
Somewhere, that same mother was excluded from her children’s school for serving on the Parents Association and checking in on her daughter after a meeting so that her daughter could know that she was alive and well to dispell the “mental health” stigma placed upon her by the father who has not stopped disparaging the mother.
Three years ago if you had told me that a story even close to this could happen to one woman, any children at all especially in the city of New York, I would never have believed you, except that it happened to me first hand. This story, not unlike so many other women is not so much unlike my own.
To this day, I have not seen my daughters ages 8,6, and 4 for months and this situation has been going on for almost two years. Who thinks it is okay for a woman and her daughters to be separated anyway in 2018? Especially in matters of drug abuse and many instances of mental illness, most mothers have been given their children. Now, instead of a cheating abusive husband leaving, the woman is forced to leave their homes, their children and have to pay emotionally, physically, mentally, to become abused all over again, but it is more alarming that it is happening in 2018 in the most “progressive” “pro feminist” city in the world…. Or is it? Statistically, many would argue there is a different story.
Even Safe Horizons and other organizations that are supposed to help save and rescue women in matters of abuse, have reported that most women in these cases give up or lose their minds before they ever get the help that they need to fully recover their permanently altered family and those women who go back to live with their abusers for the sake of the children find themselves in grave danger often to the point where they lose their lives.
There are often no warning signs. Looking back, like most women in my situation, I was always getting cards, gifts from my husband that expressed great love and admiration for being a great wife, mother etc. There was no indication that I would be going through what I would have deemed a myth especially as my head was down in my books as I earned a Master’s degree and climbed the ranks of city government from the community board level ground up approach.
As I went from court appearance to court appearance and my first paid lawyer intentionally sabotaged every effort that could have set my situation straight as he was consistently ill prepared and not willing to do what was needed to seek genuine justice.
Being the educated woman I am, I found out how to file grievances and write complaints in order to get justice which has at this point be extraordinarily delayed. Unfortunately, most women in my shoes do not make it that far.
Today, women are not playing. They are not sitting back and waiting for justice, they are taking office and fighting injustice. They are speaking up and calling out corruption and fighting back.
This past mid term general election was a prime example of that. We saw woman upset the status quo. They stormed every office across the country on every level of government? From City, State, to Federal office shattering glass ceilings left and right.
Three weeks into November and votes are still trickling in. So far 101 women have been elected into the U.S. House, with 12 women going to the Senate and 8 women serving as governors.
Over 270 women across the country ran sending a clear message to the patriarchy that they will not be stuffed and told to wait in a line never meant to advance them, never to have the opportunity to change these laws which are meant to hold women back from achievements and opportunities suited to them because they are a threat to powerful men.
Now 1 out of 5 congress members are women. Of the 107 women serving in Congress, 38/are we of color.
Women now have the opportunity to make a direct impact in their direct lives and the lives of other women who are greatly oppressed.
Even as I am dealing with my own personal matters, I have become a positive voice and advocate for change and am connecting with organizations, agencies, legislators from City, State and even Federal levels to create a women’s issues committee that will address the many women who have fallen through the cracks, who are suffering in silence and often end up in headlines with their children when it is way too late.
Women are too important to our society to allow these statistics of injustice to prevail. #Metoo must be more inclusive to include abuse to assault matters as well as find ways to storm courtrooms with truth so that women do not get attacked unduly and fall through the cracks to their demise and the demise of their children. There is no excuse for women to face these kinds of abusive matters from their significant others only for it to be extended through lawyers and judges in courtrooms and what happens to the innocent children in the middle?
What is explained to the children later on when they are unduly separated from their mothers and allowed to remain in the hands of their mothers abuser even if it is their father?
Yes, we needed women to gain this political power via the midterms. It was long overdue given these circumstances of income disparities, assault, abuses, and opportunities to be able advance in every arena including politics. I hope these women feel empowered to go in storming the castle if you will, because too many women and children have become casualties of this system that is perpetuating continued injustice and abuse at the expense of so many nameless faceless victims and survivors who only become statistics.
We have to get better at preventing these matters even on a minuscule community level. Committees and task forces are important to shedding light on these ideas, but even then, legislative action to provide strength and access to opportunities and emergency connection to resources is of great importance.
We have the opportunity to do something now about addressing these disparities and it will take men and women in the House and Senate to really make it work.
100 years since the women’s suffrage movement and the right for women to vote, women are just now getting to a place of political power despite the stories like mine of abuse and injustice that should never happen. I am determined to ensure that someday somewhere it doesn’t happen again, and I expect the new women in Congress to be determined to see positive changes become reality so that families are not destroyed and that women and children who have waited too long, will finally see justice prevail on their behalf.