Somer Stafford wants us to be Vigilant about Domestic Violence

Monday, November 6, 2017

LaSmockie Fountain

Hey, Somer, are you are work?
Yes, what’s wrong?
Call me when you get off.
Are you crying, tell me what’s wrong?
Just call me when you get off.
Tell me what’s wrong.
Somer, just call me when you get off.
No, Smockie, tell me what’s wrong now!
---- took my phone and he said he’s going to kill me!

That is one of the last conversations I had with my little cousin before that person actualized his threat to her.
May 23, 2015- My family’s life and my life was changed indefinitely.
Domestic Violence is a crime that clenches your heart and never seems to let go.  At times the grip will seem to ease up a bit, but then there are times where that grip seems to tighten.  When my little cousin La’smockie was murdered,  my mother mentioned something about domestic violence, I didn’t verbally say it to her but I thought to myself, “that was not domestic violence because she wasn’t with him, she was running from him.” But, I quickly learned that she was a true victim!  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is:   the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.1  Sadly, my little cousin did “fit the bill.” 
No matter how much I talked to Smockie when she left town (to get away from her abuser), I always made her promise that no one besides a select trusted few knew her whereabouts.  But, I still question myself sometimes, “what could I have done or said, what did I miss?” 
There are two mechanisms I rely on to help ease these questions.  Firstly, my spiritual faith.  I understand everyone is not religious, however, I can’t omit the fact that I rely on my faith knowing that my little cousin is in heaven because she turned her life over to God a couple of months before she passed.
The second mechanism I use is my service and my voice!  While I can’t change what happened to my cousin, I can make sure I do my part to help prevent another family from enduring what mine has had to endure.  Domestic violence is whispered about most of the time.  This plague should be put on the full front and confronted by all!  When we are silent about it, the more people will suffer.  My family and I have dedicated ourselves to getting involved in any domestic violence outreach that we can.  We also started our own initiatives, “A Voice for La’smockie” and La’smockie’s L.O.A.D. (Loved Ones Against Domestic Violence), which are our initiatives to bring awareness to domestic violence so that we can help prevent someone else from being a victim.  I vow to make sure that Lasmockie’s death was not in vain.  That comforts me at times when I am missing her, or at times when I am angry about what happened to her. 
There are a couple of situations that I reflect on involving my cousin that made me realize that her abuser showed his malice intent before they were fully exposed.  He didn’t want her out of his sight.  He would go wherever she went.  She could be coming over just to do my hair, and he would tag along.  While that got annoying, I didn’t say anything about it unless she voiced her frustration about it.  There was a time that she was on crutches and she said she didn’t know what happened. I feel like I should have pressed her for more information, but I didn’t.  I allowed her to joke about it-to downplay it.  Did I fail my cousin? These are times I rely heavily upon my spiritual faith.  I believe, everyone has a time to die however, no one should have to innocently die at the hands of another person!
I take my frustration and transfer that energy into my lifelong commitment in making my voice heard about domestic violence. I vow to not be silent if a situation appears to be abusive.  I would rather have someone mad at me for “getting in their business” rather than them being hurt very badly or dying at the hands of an abuser.  We as a community can’t whisper or be silent about domestic violence any longer.   We have to speak up and call out the abusers.  We have to embrace the victims and let them know, it is not their faults. 
The truth is, I know this pain will never fully go away because nothing can bring Smockie back.  But, with every outreach I participate in, if I reach 1 person, my fight is worthwhile! 
I will forever carry the L.O.A. D. in this battle against domestic violence.  La’smockie’s voice will be heard through my voice!  I charge everyone to speak up and speak out when it comes to domestic violence.  The more we expose domestic violence and make it visible, the more we can help end it and make it invisible!   

1  - The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-7233


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