Tenese Benson, Nidia Gonzalez, Kyla Ryng, Evalyce Santiago, Tiana Notice, Patricia Torbicki, Connie Dabate, Cieratique Henry, Maren Sanchez, Chloe Ottman, Lori Gellatly, Cindy Dunn, Nequa Brodie and her 9-year old daughter… women with something in common.
They were all murdered.
Like them, a man murdered me. At least he thought he had. He strangled me and left me for dead. Unlike them, I survived. I survived because the man who assaulted me didn’t know that unconsciousness precedes death.
My survival has made me more aware than most at how violence can come when we least expect it. My survival has led me to stand up for those who are victims and for those who could become victims. Violence against women at the hands of a current, former, or want-to-be partner happens to 1-in-4 young women.
After my assault—when his incarceration enabled me to come home from hiding—my mother paid for my pistol safety class, and I started carrying a revolver. I still do. And for good reason. The man who nearly killed me still likes to drive by my house. He would occasionally call my parent's home phone. He even harassed other members of my family. He has been in and out of prison, and more often in prison, during the last three decades. But no invisible restraining order could protect me. Stalking is about power. I have had to fight to keep my power.
It is also why I won't ever vote to take a gun away from a woman who thinks she needs one. And though I believe that, I also support sensible gun laws. I come from a family of hunters, and we still hunt to this day. To protect our citizens, Connecticut has createdsome of the strongest gun laws in the nation, but we can still do more. We need a national standard. We need universal background checks, comprehensive training requirements, and a permanent ban on bumpstocks and high capacity magazines. We also need a "red flag" law that allows friends, family, and victims of an abusive or unstable person to notify DPS/LE. We need to treat domestic assault a serious problem, invest in domestic violence programs, and strengthen laws to protect victims of domestic abuse and stalking.
We need to change the way society – men – view women, not as objects that can be killed and thrown away, but as full, autonomous human beings. These women, and hundreds of others, are the martyrs. We don’t need any more martyrs.
We need to change the way society views poverty. Poverty creates a hopelessness that permeates every other aspect of life; nutrition, education, opportunity, and while it drives people to strive for a better life, the paths available are sometimes outside the law, and that's just not what anybody wants.
I look forward to a day when no one feels they need a gun for self-defense, and I look forward to a day when there are no more names to add to this list.
I’m more than a survivor. I’m a fighter. I've worked with girls for most of my life to give them the confidence they need to fight for themselves and I've trained women to lead. I’ve advocated for those who might not have been able to, and stood beside those just finding their voices.
Our government is beautiful, the way it was designed to work. But it doesn’t work, not for people, anymore. I've advocated for women, for workers, and for the environment for decades, and I’ve been frustrated with the way that good bills die, often not based on content, but because the “wrong” side or wrong person sponsored it. There's "I'll kill your bill if you don't support mine," games, and that's not what our Framers envisioned.
It’s time to fix government. It's time to elect women. It's time to elect better Democrats.
I am ready.