Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Tag Archive: freedom

  1. New Year’s Leaving

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    I know two women who left their abusive husbands over this New Year’s mid-week holiday. As soon as the new apartments were ready, while the men were at work, with careful planning and the help of  friends and family, they shed possessions and made a break for it.

    The moment of leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous one possible for the victim; it is the instant when the batterer (statistically most often a man) loses what he has sought above all else, what he has sought to obtain via physical, emotional, or financial abuse: control over the victim. It is the moment when he is most likely to be most violent as he attempts to regain what he is losing.

    To those courageous survivors who left today, may you be safe. May you inhale the fresh paint smell of your new apartment and know that your life will never be the same, that you’ve done the hardest thing already, that each day will get a little easier.

    And to the rest of us who are  already safe in our homes tonight, may we remember those who left and maybe even our own leaving, and may we take whatever risks we need to take now in order to have the lives we’re meant to have.

  2. Feminist

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    Things get weird pretty quickly when your search term on a stock photo site is “feminist.” Women with ropes, women with boxing gloves, women with their stiletto’d feet on the throats of men. Try it and see. Here’s a strange one. What does it mean?


    To me the word has meant something simple and basic: pro woman. Women can or cannot be feminists. Men have the same options.

    I am a feminist; I happily take the label.

    When the pop singer Katy Perry said last year that she wasn’t a feminist, she elicited reactions ranging from “Katy Perry is an idiot” to “maybe if feminists didn’t think Katy Perry was an idiot she would be more likely to identify as one.”

    I rely on the recommendations of Mr. Z (who calls himself a feminist, by the way) to read a tiny fraction of the articles in the issues of The New Yorker that pile up on the coffee table. A couple of days ago, he suggested that I read an article by Susan Faludi about Shulamith Firestone.  I recommend that you read it, too.

    Firestone’s name is familiar to me, but by the time I was reading feminist theory in the 1990s, she and other “second-wave” feminists (Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett, for example), no matter how influential, were already sort of “vintage.” I didn’t know her ideas and I didn’t know her story.

    Firestone’s ideas are still radical and fresh and needed forty years after she first wrote them.

    Firestone’s story is tragic and compelling and all too familiar.

    If more women and men knew about the feminists on whose shoulders we climb, would more people be honored and humbled to share their label, identify as members of their tribe?

    I think so.

  3. Transformations

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    I met Alana Sheeren via my friend Jeanne, that great connector, and for the past couple of years I’ve followed Alana on her blog and social media.

    She’s doing a series of interviews called “Transformation Talk.” Here’s what she writes about them:

    Every Thursday for a year, starting in September 2012, I’ll post an interview with someone who is a force for good in the world. These men and women have either deepened their passion or found their calling after experiencing a loss, trauma or diagnosis

    I want to broaden the conversation around grief and its transformative power. My hope is that in their words you’ll find echoes of your story. In their inspired actions, you’ll see yourself and your immense possibility.

    About a week ago, I had the pleasure of being the “someone” she interviewed. Here is our conversation.


    I realized this morning that today is April 11, a day that for me has become a day of unexpected transformations.

    April 11, 2007 was the day my ex-husband was arrested. April 11, 2011 was the day I gave my first public talk to a group. And now April 11, 2013, through no foresight or planning on my part, is the day of my first  interview.

    I really appreciate the work Alana is doing with respect to grief and loss and their transformative power. Thank you, Alana, for being part of my ongoing transformation.

  4. On Fire



    Month of rebirth,

     month of two anniversaries.

    Good Friday, 2002: a beating, an interim separation.

    April 11, 2007: another assault, an arrest, the first night of a final separation.

    Easter weekend 2012: time for a fire.

    Tonight two Adrienne Rich poems:

    “Burning Oneself Out,”

    its last lines:

    “or, as tonight, the mirror of the fire
    of my mind, burning as if it could go on
    burning itself, burning down

    feeding on everything
    till there is nothing in life
    that has not fed that fire”



    about Marie Curie,

    “[who] died a famous woman denying
    her wounds
    her wounds came from the same source as her power.”


    What has fed your fire?

    Can you see that your wounds and your power come from the same source?

  5. What have you survived?




    In From a Survivor, Adrienne Rich writes,

    Next year it would have been 20 years
    and you are wastefully dead
    who might have made the leap
    we talked, too late, of making

    which I live now
    not as a leap
    but a succession of brief, amazing movements

    each one making possible the next





    Every one of us who lives another day is a survivor of something, or everything.

    Survivors of  violent, personal trauma–domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape.

    Others are survivors of cancer, accidents, natural disasters, genocide, the suicide of a loved one.

    What have you survived? What has been your “succession of brief, amazing movements”?



  6. Story

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    I can’t stop thinking about journalist Marie Colvin, who died in Syria yesterday.  You can read about her here and here and here.

    She risked, and gave, her life to tell the story of people who are being oppressed, people whose government attempts to hide its violence by not allowing foreign reporters access for nearly a year, people whose story might not be told but for her and others like her.


    In violent intimate relationships, as long as the victim is willing to be subject to the power and control of the batterer, she may well survive with intermittent violence.  She faces the greatest level of danger when she breaks her silence to say “Enough.”

    The Assad government’s response to its citizens’ quest for freedom, its citizens’ “Enough,” repeats the response of the batterer who says to his partner, “If I can’t have you, no one will,” and then inflicts brutality on the victim and everyone who tries to help her or give her voice.

    It is up to all of us to take personal risks, great and small, to tell our stories and the stories of those who cannot tell their own, those who risk everything to gain freedom from their oppressors.

    RIP Marie Colvin



  7. Love

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    With Valentine’s Day at its heart, February is all about love.

    February is also National Dating Violence Awareness Month.

    Women ages 18-24 are at the greatest risk of any group for being victims of intimate partner violence.

    Women In Distress is sponsoring The Love Campaign to educate young women that despite what they may have seen in their lives or in popular culture, love doesn’t hurt.

    Here are a couple of other excellent resources for young women: and

    To me, today, love means compassion and acceptance.

    If you know a young woman, please tell her what love means to you.






  8. Pink and Purple Ribbons

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    My sister is a breast cancer survivor.

    I am a domestic violence survivor.

    I walked a Susan G. Komen 3-Day with her in 2006.  She walked a SafeWalk with me yesterday.    We’re talking about doing both next year.

    As we wrap up October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am thinking about the similarities and differences between the ways we think about these two ribboned women’s issues.

    Fortunately, has done the heavy lifting for me, in this fact-packed post.  They compare breast cancer and domestic violence based on the following criteria:

    • how many women experience them
    • how many women die from them
    • how women are treated/helped
    • how much money each costs the economy
    • how each is talked about (or not)
    The numbers speak for themselves.
    Let’s not take off our pink and purple ribbons until we’ve put an end to both breast cancer and domestic violence.
  9. The Sweetest Thing

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    Monday I had the pleasure of speaking about dating violence and healthy relationships to a group of high school students.

    The coordinator of the event brought Earl Grey cupcakes after I mentioned that the day of the talk would be my birthday.

    Apparently, I am shameless.  And they were delicious.

    But she gave everyone in the room another gift, too: she shared her own story of an abusive marriage with this group of young women who will work with her month after month, knowing now that they can come to her with their stories, whatever they are, and she will listen with empathy and openness.  She has created a safe space for each of those students to share her own experience, whatever it might be.

    I ask people to talk about intimate partner violence with their daughters, granddaughters, friends, sisters, coworkers–to tell their stories, as I do, to anyone who will listen.

    And I am always impressed when they share their personal stories during the Q&A, as if they have just been waiting for an opportunity, an open door.

    The more we talk about intimate partner violence, the less of it there will be to talk about.

    This is the sweetest thing.

  10. thank you


    “absence can be present, like a damaged nerve, like a dark bird”
    The Time Traveler’s Wife.

    Thank you Griselda for this dark bird.

    Thank you Amy for the book that found its way to the top of the stack at just the right time and for this sonnet by Wordsorth:

    Surprised by joy – impatient as the wind

    Surprised by joy – impatient as the wind
    I turned to share the transport – Oh! With whom
    But thee, long buried in the silent tomb,
    That spot which no vicissitude can find?
    Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind –
    But how could I forget thee? – Through what power,
    Even for the least division of an hour,
    Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
    To my most grievous loss? – That thought’s return
    Was the worse pang that sorrow ever bore,
    Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
    Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
    That neither present time nor years unborn
    Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

    Thank you Crescent Dragonwagon for sharing your post about Beanblossom,  reminding me that there will be a long view and I must waste nothing.

    Thank you Elizabeth and Paula and Marjory  and Bridget for friendship via comment and tweet.

    Thank you Alana and Judith for showing me how to blog grief.

    Thank you Julie and Bindu for phone and text support.

    Thank you friends and family who would prefer not to be blogged about.

    Thank you Jeanne for all of the above and more.