Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, September 07, 2006
By Antonia Vann
The Lord is my light and my salvation– Whom shall I fear?….for in the day of trouble He will keep me safe…...
while still lying on the kitchen floor, the paramedics placed a big, white, dog collar of a brace around my neck to stabilize my head. Next they rolled me onto a long narrow, brown, hard board. I was flat on my back when one of the officers noticed blood on the front of my nightgown. They lifted my gown once again, and there was another gunshot wound in my upper, left thigh. Oh Lord, four bullets! Her by shot me four times!
Lavon Morris-Grant descriptively shares her personal journey and roles, including that of an African American woman who is a battered wife. Telling it like it is or “keeping it real” makes for a real-life rollercoaster ride. This story is gripping. At times you cry, and in the midst of your tears, she has you laughing as her story is exquisitely written and a must-read for not only other women on this same pathway struggling to survive, or finding themselves, but also for practitioners, researchers, law enforcement, members of the judiciary, social service providers, ministers, and human rights activists – anyone who provides services for African-American women. A trial of triumph! She survived, trusting in herself and reaching what was inside of her all along. Her faith was the vehicle. Her hero, is not of this Earth.
...I was so embarrassed that I tried thinking about something else while they looked at my big, black butt. It was confirmed. I was shot in the butt! A part of me wanted to laugh, but I heard them saying, I was shot in the left foot, too.
Whom Shall I Fear is poignant and rhythmic. Grant is a sassy, sad, courageous, strong, educated and tough black woman who fell victim to abuse. It immediately taps into the emotions and hearts of women who have experienced abuse at the hands of a partner and those of family and friends who love them. The disclosure of self in the book weaves you through the seemingly methodical cycle of abuse, of power and of control. Grant’s near fatal experiences of abuse and violence paint scenarios clearly and chillingly at times of the complex, yet basic dynamics intrinsic in spousal abuse.
... As I look back on that day, the look on my husband’s face should have been a sign to me that this wasn’t the same Herb who had just come to my apartment two weeks ago and said, “I love you.” But, I was tired of Herb’s attitude. I was tired of being hurt. I was tired of being the one to leave when I did nothing wrong. I was tired and just didn’t care anymore.
Grant clearly describes the trauma of pain, fear, and confusion many abused woman experience while attempting to leave her abuser. Her book gives the reader, (particularly those who can’t understand why a woman stays), a first-hand view of the fear and isolation a woman experiences, and her feeling as though she has been “trapped” with no clear way out. She also clearly conveys what she saw as comforting in the midst of her storm.
... After a few minutes of searching through my hair, the black woman paramedic found the entry wound. The fact that she was a woman and was black relieved some of my internal fears. She had a warm, friendly face that communicated to me that I was safe, and she wasn’t going to let anything else happen to me.
Whom Shall I Fear tells of her growth and change and of the abuser’s unwillingness to accept her change for fear of losing the one he had complete control over. This book speaks of her path to healing – of how her growth and self development affected how she was able to examine not only her inner-self and spirit, but also her true life with her abuser. This process was a direct threat to the survival of himself, his control.
Whom Shall I Fear takes us through a journey of a battered woman, who is not the typical battered woman. She gave up all she had known and was accustomed to: her home, her husband and her children to free herself from psychological and physical abuse, punctuated by multiple threats upon her life. Grant takes you step by step in her shoes through the trials faced by abused woman, as they are even further victimized by the “system.” Living in a shelter, the cold treatment of the “welfare bureau”.
Challenge after challenge. Finding employment, paying her bills, and attempting to pay for adequate childcare. She tells the story of many such women, explaining how her abuser refused to send money to support his children in hopes that life would be unbearable for her, and she would return to him. Through it all, she testifies to maintaining her faith and trust in God! When her husband actually did make his threats a reality, she continued to hold on to her faith and trust in God. Her faith in God sustained and comforted her. Grant’s experiences are unforgettable, poignant, and disturbing. A compelling read of pain, survival, joy and triumph. God Bless You Lavon Morris Grant!
Antonia Vann is the executive director of Asha Family Services in Milwaukee, Wis .