The setting was Mardi Gras day on St. Charles Avenue, sometime over 46 years ago. I do not remember my exact age. But I remember the incident, and I remember it well. I was sitting on the family blanket, in the family area my family staked out, probably eating fried chicken. I was people watching. The neutral ground was quite crowded with revelers. I saw a man with a concerned look on his face approaching people and asking a question. I saw the people all shake their heads no. He wondered off and I continued whatever I was doing at the time. Eventually, I saw the man again with his hand holding on tightly to a woman’s arm, pretty much dragging her behind him. In my little child mind, I am thinking these people were old, but looking back, they were probably in their very early 20s. The girl was beautiful and I liked her wavy hair. (As I got older and remembered this incident, I compared her hair to Scarlet O’Hara hair.) The man shoved her against a utility and pole and pushed her hard against it several times while he was telling her something in her ear. I will always remember the look on her face. No one in their group said anything to the man for doing this. The girl sat on a blanket with other women and was quiet for the longest, while the man circled close by behind her. Eventually, she was drawn into their conversation and started looking normal, so I quit watching.
In my active imagination, over the years I wondered about this woman. Did she stay with him, endure years of violence, bringing children into the fold and crippling their little minds? I always hoped she escaped from him and moved on to a normal relationship. Why didn’t anyone from their group stop the man from doing this? Why did they sit by watching this woman be abused? What happened to the man? Did he grow out of this abusive phase and become a loving husband to someone? I doubt it. In my meanest thoughts, I hope someone dished out to him what he had probably dished out to that woman.
I never forgot this, and I was not even a part of this incident. I only saw this one time. To think, little children who are in a family of abuse have to witness this repeatedly. My heart breaks.
I am thankful to have partnered with a company in which speaking out against domestic violence is part of the corporate responsibility. In 2004, the Avon Foundation for Women launched the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program. Speak Out builds awareness, educates, and develops and implements prevention and direct service programs. Some of these projects are global, focused on ending gender-based violence and strengthening domestic violence laws. Nearly $60 million has been raised globally by this foundation to support its goals.
Did you know 1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence in her lifetime? This staggering number shocked me. Does this number shock you into action? You, too, can join corporations that are socially responsible. I urge you to do your research and join the fight. Your efforts are multiplied exponentially when you combine efforts with a socially responsible corporation.
Should you decide to partner with Avon, you can do so in two ways. You can shop Avon Empowerment products, in which a portion of the proceeds are donated to the foundation. You can check this out at http://www.YourAvon.com/ghegwood. (Search ’empowerment’.)
Or, you can join me as an Avon representative and spread the word. Go to http://www.StartAvon.com and type in ghegwood as the reference code to join my team. Our mission is to improve the lives of women globally. In our core cause areas of Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence, we aim to accelerate progress, accountability and discovery, while also reducing the social stigma that sometimes keeps these issues in the shadows.
I am sure when I titled this blog “A Mardi Gras Memory”, you certainly did not think this would be about domestic violence. I do have many wonderful Mardi Gras memories, but this one really sticks. I want to help decrease incidents such as this so that children can fill their heads with better memories, such as doubloons, beads and marching bands.