Monday, June 14, 2010

The Price of a Life?

Many who know me, know that I stand and support many issues, from missing persons, domestic violence, mothers without custody, human trafficking, self-defense, and victim’s rights. Whew, it’s a lot to take in and a lot of information to spread around to bring awareness to all of these inter-connecting, real life tragedies that are played out daily in our news and on the internet. But, there are two things I’ve been working on for quite some time that, to me, are life and death issues.

The Help Find the Missing Act (Billy’s Law) is one of the most important national pieces of legislation that will benefit the families of missing persons. With a grass roots effort started by the mother of missing Billy Smolinski, Janice Smolinski lives the nightmare shared with thousands across the country and millions worldwide. She has worked non-stop through the process of our government to bring this change for all. The bill was passed quickly and unanimously through the Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives and now sits in the Senate.

As I reflect over this past year, I look at the lessons I’ve learned from many about how our system of government works. I regard myself as an average citizen with an average education, but there was so much I didn’t know! The Help Find the Missing Act needs to be expedited through the Senate, but there is one Senator Coburn (R-OK) who is holding it up. Senator Coburn, who is also a doctor, is well known for holding back the reins of spending, but, I ask, what is the price of a life?

Day after day, on all forms of social media, I see case after case of a missing or unidentified person, some new, some very old and cold. To know that there are families and communities who are affected by each and every one missing fuels everything I try to do, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough to spread the awareness and to try to educate the general public; it’s not enough to know that every day a mother wakes up and starts her quest all over again with only faith and hope to hang on to.

WAKE UP! You can’t put a price on the life of even one missing human being in this country. You can’t put a price on the heartache of each family represented who struggle to get information out about their missing loved one. With as many organizations and support groups as there are online, it’s still not enough to bring them home. Our families and American citizens deserve the benefits outlined in The Help Find the Missing Act.
Janice Smolinski, and the thousands of other family members of a missing loved one, did not ask to be a part of this growing community. They also didn’t ask to be in the limelight or have media cameras staring at them. They don’t look forward to another appearance on the Nancy Grace Show, but they do it because they know it’s another opportunity to show a picture or to speak about their loved one.

My second wake-up call was how closely domestic violence is related to murdered and missing persons. With many of the cases I review and highlight, it hits me that if we could find a way to solve the mystery of family violence, we could effectively reduce the numbers of murdered and missing persons.

Family and domestic violence was put on the plate of Susan Murphy-Milano the day she was born. She didn’t ask for it, it asked for her, perhaps knowing that somewhere in her soul was something that could make a difference in the way that cases of domestic violence were handled. Living and breathing it daily in her home growing up, she survived for a reason, and, in my opinion, that reason is to help the helpless, to guide those who are living in violent chaos and having a hard time making sense of their own lives. She has been doing it for over 20 years!

This year Susan wrote and published the book, Time’s Up: A Guide on How to Leave an Abusive and Stalking Relationship and laid the procedures she created and used during the last 20 years of working directly with victims of violence. Point of fact…not one woman in 20 years died while on Susan’s watch, and that alone should speak for her knowledge and expertise.

This book is even more important to Susan because it was written to be something that will be used by victims who cannot be helped by her personally. Each day hundreds of emails come into her box seeking her help. Most inquiries are those in which someone will die, the “high risk” cases of a woman living in the danger zone, reaching out desperately in the eleventh hour. Susan is only one person, and realizing that, she offers the Time’s Up book and the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit to all who need it.

After the book was launched in April, 2010 on her murdered mother’s birthday, there have been many accolades and great reviews, but that is not enough! While all the good things said and written about Time’s Up are flattering, it’s not enough to get this book into the hands of the victims who are being beaten and killed every day. This book was not written and distributed for the sake of book sales, or for flattering words, it was written for one purpose only… save lives.

How many celebrities have supported the issue of domestic violence and how many organizations have been built around the need to help? Thousands of people have taken to the streets to educate and bring awareness to the general public, and yet, we are seeing lives lost in epidemic proportions due to family violence. Many wonderful laws have been passed, many advocates have spoken to Congress, and every day people still look the other way. Why?

In order to get Time’s Up, and the information contained to the victim who needs it right now is a daunting task taken on by one woman with a passion and a mission to save lives. Susan Murphy-Milano is not out to become the next media darling looking for a gig on the latest news talk show, although she would definitely appear if asked, she would appear as the spokesperson for those who cannot speak for themselves because they are frozen with fear wondering how long they have to live!

So, what is the price for a life? What more do we need to do? All of the “yays” and “shares” and pats on the back only go so far in these two issues which are consuming many! How much do we have to pay to scream from the rooftops until people “get it?” If one missing person’s family is given the peace of mind they deserve, if one victim of a violent relationship is spared their life, is it worth it? Who are those “in charge” that can make a difference and why are they not stepping up to the plate? Is it money, fame, recognition that they want? What’s the price they are willing to pay? And why, oh why, does it have to come down to money?

I have been blessed to have the opportunity to get to know each of these women this year, each of them fighting a fight they didn’t ask for, yet, trying like hell to pave a smoother path for those who will come after them. Both are facing the obstacles set before them every day, but waking up to face a new challenge with courage and strength. Although they both deserve all the accolades in the world, neither of them is seeking the limelight or 15 minutes of fame, no awards can take the place of the work each is trying to accomplish. I’m trying to shine a light into the darkness that each of them has lived and I’m trying to show the world the importance of what they each are trying to achieve.

Does anyone have Oprah’s personal phone number? If so, give her a call.

By Delilah



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