Contempt wears many faces | A Dream, Part 5 of 5

by Elouise

Dawn's Place circle of friends making paper flowers february 2014

~~Unchained Women! Unrecognized, under-rated power to change the subject

I’m on a public street. I’ve just witnessed brutality against two young women, not in real time but in my dream. Now, out of my dream, what to do next? I pull out my cell phone and call 911. Will anyone respond? This isn’t an upscale area.

I kneel beside the sobbing woman and put my arm around her shoulder.

  • My name is Elouise. I saw and heard what just happened. I won’t leave you.

She nods her head slightly. She’s listening. The other woman is also listening.

  • I saw both of you in a nearby house, with a group of young girls and young women. I want to support you in any way I can. I’m not going to leave.

I pull out my pocket pack of Kleenex and offer one to the sobbing woman. She takes it. I offer the entire pack. She takes it.

  • You don’t deserve to be shamed, humiliated and silenced. I know what that’s like. Sometimes in front of other people. I won’t abandon you or your friend.”

I keep my arm around her shoulder. My mind is working overtime:

This young woman reminds me of myself and my mother. The other woman reminds me of myself and my three sisters. We sink or swim together. I mostly sank as a child. I want to swim! Swimming was a big deal in my childhood. We lived next to a river. It was important to know what to do if we fell off the dock or got caught in a fast current going out to sea. I don’t think these young women know how to float, much less swim or help each other stay out of dangerous water.

I ask the second woman how I might help her. She wants that chain off her wrist. She says someone needs to pick the lock. Can I do that? My heart sinks. No, I can’t. I don’t know how.

Does she know how to pick a lock? She nods an emphatic Yes! Do I have a small, thin metal something in my pocketbook?

Yes, I do! Will this work? She isn’t sure, but she’s willing to try. I hand it to her and she starts working with it.

The sobbing woman is still teary, but has relaxed a bit. She’s watching her friend to see what happens next. Her friend needs help holding the lock steady while she works on it. The first woman gets out of her kneeling position and sits on the pavement, her back to the wall of the tavern. They work on the lock together.

I sit there wondering what will happen if the men come out before anyone responds to my 911 call.

We’re on a busy public street, in plain view of most pedestrians. I watch for anyone who might help us. A man pauses, about to go into the tavern. I greet him. Would you be able to help us with these locks?

If he can’t or won’t, and the lock can’t be picked, and 911 help doesn’t arrive before the two (likely drunk) men emerge from the tavern, what then?

The bottom line is clear. I’m staying right here until this is resolved, one way or another. My mind is still processing what’s happening.

It’s time to break free of my chains. I’m chained by fear of the two men in the tavern. They remind me of men who tried to control me, including but not limited to my father. They also remind me of myself. I’m bound, as they are, by fear of what might happen if I’m not in control. My worst fear right now is death. Especially by violence. I want to live!

Will this end well? I don’t know. Then again, this is only the beginning. I take a deep breath and let go of the tension in my body. We need to be alert and properly disobedient if we want to change the subject.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 January 2016
Photo: Women at Dawn’s Place, a therapeutic residential program offering support to women exploited for commercial sex.