A personal reflection by Telisha Harrison.
In September of 1997, I was finishing my last semester of undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. I hadn’t made many friends during that time since I was a non-traditional student at the age of 27 and a single mom.
I was excited because I had recently met a girl, Tamara Williams, who like me was a single parent and about to graduate. I thought I had finally found a friend, someone who could relate to what is was like to be a student and single mom at a university that catered to traditional students.
A few weeks after we met she was murdered by her boyfriend, a man who was at my home a week prior feeding my 1-year-old nephew. We called him “Crazy Kev” and I didn’t know him very well. He was part of a group of friends that played cards on the weekends at my home. He too was killed during the incident by campus police when he wouldn’t stop stabbing Tamara in the courtyard of U of M’s family housing complex.
I didn’t even know they knew each other, had no idea that he was capable of such violence or that she and I had so much in common. I was scheduled to go to court a few weeks later to face my own abuser who had months prior beaten me to the point that I suffered a broken jaw, broken cheekbone and lost a few teeth.
When I went to the emergency room that Friday night, they informed me of my injuries and that I had to wait until Monday to go to the clinic for treatment because I had no insurance. They sent me home with a smashed in face and a bottle of liquid Tylenol 3.
Prior to Tamara’s death, I had been contemplating whether or not I wanted to go through with my case. It was after all my last semester, a semester which I had to add since I had to drop a semester due to my injuries (I told the university I was in a car accident). I wasn’t sure if I had the courage or energy required to see it through. After Tamara’s death it was clear to me that I had to for my daughter and hers.
Violence against women to me is serious injuries and death.
Violence against women to me is the shame of delayed treatment for serious injuries after being beaten.
Violence against women to me is having to file bankruptcy because I couldn’t afford to pay my medical bills even though the courts ruled that my assailant was responsible for paying them.
Violence against women to me is having to lie about the cause of my injuries for fear of being labeled.
Violence against women to me is a society that in 2016 is still asking, “What does violence against women mean to you?”…