Rosa-Lyn, or Rose as they called her, was beautiful. Her hazel eyes, golden skin and radiant smile trademarked her. She had two children, reveled in motherhood and worked hard, and was about to begin Temple University.
However, there was one loose end: a relationship she wanted out of.
Three years later her mother is adamant that nothing in that relationship predicted that Rose’s life would end with a slit throat and her profusely stabbed body laid bleeding, and her house set ablaze. Fortunately, the children were in Florida.
He didn’t want to lose her, he had said.
Rose was twenty-seven.
* * *
Andrea stands a little over five feet tall, but she is a powerhouse. Soft-spoken with a gentle spirit, she speaks courageously about being a woman who compromised too much and said nothing when something needed to be said. A woman who tamed her ambition because, according to her husband, she was too strong, too independent. Even some close to her had agreed.
Before long she was something she had never expected to become: a battered woman. That is, until the day she was hurled against a wall. She fought back. Hard. He was severely injured and hospitalized. She was jailed.
* * *
These ladies refuse to allow their stories to become mere numbers in domestic violence and criminal reports. There are just too many casualties, they say, including 3.3 million children in the United States alone.
Rose’s mother, Rafeeqah Sanders, is intimately familiar with the trauma suffered by children who lose a parent to domestic violence – she was left to care for her two grandchildren, ages six and three. Determined to make a significant difference not only in her grandchildren’s lives, but in the lives of other children affected by domestic violence, Rafeeqah founded Rose’s Journey, a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to provide therapeutic and educational services to children impacted by domestic violence. “Stopping domestic violence starts with teaching children that violence is wrong.”
* * *
The charges against Andrea were later dismissed, and her abuser is serving time for his offenses. However, that wasn’t nearly enough. Her life, her liberty and her health had been compromised by her silence, and Andrea vowed not to sit by and watch other women endure what she had.
She’s kept her word.
Through educational and social awareness programs, Andrea’s non-profit organization, Girl U Can Do It, Inc., empowers youths and young adults. Tirelessly she advocates for AIDS/HIV awareness and domestic violence prevention, and every Saturday, she hosts the Real R.A.P.P. radio talk show, which brings awareness to issues that disproportionately affect the African-American community.
* * *
I watched these amazing women, along with two others, sit with straight backs and in unwavering voices share their poignant experiences with the world. They are not victims but victors who have made the conscious decision to rehash every gory detail until laws are changed, until men and women are properly educated, until each child is healed. They refuse to be still or be quiet because as they all agree: silence equals death.
I salute them
P.S.: To find out more about Rose’s Journey, go to www.rosesjourney.org, or contact Rafeeqah Sanders at (215) 767-5258.
Check out Andrea Johnson , Torrance Young and Walil Archer on Real R.A.P.P. Radio at www.DownTownHottRadio.com every Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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