ENOUGH! mad-men behavior

Photo by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

Photo by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

Media stories today from Vermont and Ohio illuminate the unimaginable brutality of abusive men toward women. Both of these accounts will unsettle viewers and listeners to the core.

I must admit that I asked myself this very day, why expose yourself to something so disturbing? Why ruffle your day?

And an answer came quickly from within on that question’s heels:

… because you need to witness the human suffering of others up close in order to grow in compassion … because you must continue strengthening your own personal voice as a woman … because you are responsible for those voiceless ones who require someone to advocate for them … because you are called to help other women reclaim their own powerful voices …

The first story involves a woman from my own Green Mountain State, Carmen Tarleton.  This former registered nurse is known to Vermonters.  In 2007, she was brutally beaten by her estranged huband and then deeply disfigured when he covered her with industrial lye.

She survived–and today received the fifth full face transplant ever performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston!  Hear her inspiring words on Boston.com.  Despite devastating horrors, she is a beacon of hope and inspiration for all women …

The other story, equally unnerving, is a photo slide show (with must-read captions) by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, a graduate student at Ohio University.  While photographing her thesis project, she found herself in the midst of a domestic dispute between a partnered man and woman. (Read Sara’s own commentary too, below the photo slideshow.)

While you might criticize her for not intervening, she succeeds in capturing hidden-from-view domestic violence (and its progression), which thousands of women enounter daily at the hands of abusive mad-men.

Week-to-week, we at writinginsideVT work with incarcerated women on the receiving end of such horrific abuse prior to imprisonment.

In 2012, the National Institute of Corrections estimated that 52 percent of female inmates reported some kind of physical or sexual abuse prior to incarceration.

..which is why we work with these women, word by word, circle by circle, helping them unearth their dignity as women, as well as their powerful voices, so they can (hopefully) protect and advocate for themselves in that distant day.

the boy from Troy

by Brenda Ann Kenneally

This TIME photo essay (44 pics) is too important not to see.  It’s heart-wrenching to watch however, so prepare yourself.

Photojournalist Brenda Ann Kenneally captures the life of Donny, from birth to age 8.  He lives with his young mother Kayla in multi-generational poverty in Troy, N.Y., not far from where Kenneally grew up.”

The Boy from Troy is important to watch because it:

• mirrors the childhoods of most of the incarcerated women we write ‘inside’ with each week

• mirrors the adult experiences of these women as mothers

• documents the “cradle to prison pipeline” many children are trapped within

• demonstrates the lack of parenting, economic resources, education, nutritional foods, mentors, exposure to nature, self-responsibility (and on and on) that comes with impoverishment.

This photo essay reminds me of the fragile beings we accompany week-to-week, and the complexity of social issues that converge to create these predicaments.  It also reinforces how difficult it is to break out of the cycle of multi-generational poverty.  As has been said many times before, “there but for the grace of God, go I.”