The following monologue is an excerpt from my novel Picture Me Rollin. In this scene, the protagonist Esperanza explains to her mentor Maite how her mother ended up in a prison. If you own the novel, you will find it on page 186.
"He kept beating on her and beating on her, and they would arrest him and let him go. They told her to leave him, but he said he would kill her if she did, and she had every reason to believe him. So Mami tried to get him to move out without breaking up with him. She begged him to leave. 'It's not good for our girls to see us fighting like this all the time.' And the cabez�n. . . His name was Roland, but behind his back Dulce and I used to call him el cabez�n 'cause he had this big head in every sense of the word. Mami never even knew we called him that 'cause she wanted us to show him respect. Anyway, at first Roland fronts like he agrees with Mami, and he starts packing. And little by little, he loses it. He's ranting about all he's done for us, getting us off of welfare, and buying us good food and pretty clothes. Roland's grabbing anything and everything he thinks he bought for the house, throwing things in his boxes. He storms into the kitchen and rips the radio out of the wall. Mami's behind him. She's not trying to stop him from taking anything; she's just trying to call him down. And then he reaches into the dish rack and grabs the knife. So, you see, Mami got lucky in that fight, because it was el cabez�n who went into the kitchen and got the knife. I don't know how she got it from him, but if she hadn't she'd be dead . . . . She'd be dead, and he'd be out by now beating on somebody else. But people in my neighborhood are, like, 'Brenda got lucky. She got the knife. She got lucky.' But Mami wasn't lucky. Three years of black eyes, loose teeth, and cracked ribs. But they called my mother a murderer."
One of the reasons why I wrote Picture Me Rollin was to bring awareness to this little know consequence of domestic violence. There's an increase in the number of women incarcerated in U.S. prisons, and a significant factor in this increase is domestic violence. Although our criminal justice system continues to be weak at protecting women from abusive partners, it has been quite strident in criminalizing women who kill their abusers in self-defense. To learn more about this and other related issues, visit the following sites just to start.
Some Facts on Domestic Violence in the United States.
Think the Jennifer Lopez movie Enough is an accurate portrayal of domestic violence? Think again.
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
Self-Defense is Not a Crime
National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women