I wasn’t there. Neither were you. But as sure as the red, black and blue bruises spread over Bridget Gray’s face on November 13, it happened. Every day a new face with new bruises, new stories go ignored. “Be quiet.” “Be a good girl.” “Girl, don’t be puttin’ yo business out there like that!” “He didn’t mean it.” “Get over it!”
Bridget is a good, long time friend of mine and so seeing the photos of her face surely brought sadness to my heart. Here is the paragraph where I am tempted to insert in detail what an awesome and powerful woman she is. What a talented performer, poet and artist she is. How she has been so outspoken against abuse against women. What a friend she is to so many. Does any of that matter? If this happened to any other woman, would it be less tragic. No.
Bridget Gray, now residing in Hawaii, was traveling through Puna with her then boyfriend when an argument ensued. I won’t go into all of the details but in the end a physical confrontation occurred resulting in the bruises on her face. And the emotional scars she is carrying. That’s the story in a very small nutshell.
I don’t know all of the whys and how comes of this specific case. What I know for sure is that the bruises keep showing up. On too many faces. Keep getting swept under too many rugs. I don’t know THE solution. I do know that silence is not our friend. I honor Bridget Gray for speaking out. I honor her for standing, though tears silently falling, in the center of the whispers, the negative comments posted, the women who would come forward and support but are too afraid, too ready to move on.
I’m not insensitive here, I understand the fear. Years ago I listened to a woman get beat in her apartment, and I did nothing. Because I was afraid. Afraid. I don’t know what happened to her but I never saw her again. I never heard her through my walls again. I don’t know what happened, but sometimes my mind thinks the worse. Where did my fears get her? She, I never knew her name, will always be with me. When will we realize that there is no going forward while we have a sister with ice packs on her cheeks? Our brothers, our sisters, we, have pain and anger we don’t know what to do with. There is no moving on with all of the suffering in the air. There is no stepping over it. Not really. The bruises on her face are OUR bruises.
That night in my apartment I told myself not to get involved, because I was afraid. I am not alone. There were times that you could have done something. You could have stepped forward. What did you tell you?
My prayers to you Bridget, and many many others.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE
Anonymous and confidential help 24/7