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Activism

'We Failed You, Marissa. Men Fail Women Like You Every Day.'

Men write about domestic violence experienced by women they know, in a weekly compilation of letters from the #31forMarissa project.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Scisetti Alfio

Editor's Note: A nationwide, month-long letter-writing campaign called #31forMarissa has just finished its second week. The campaign encourages men to write about domestic violence, sharing stories that deal with the action, reaction and inaction of men in their family or community, and the legacy of that behavior. The letters will be sent to Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in jail after firing a warning shot at a wall near her abusive husband. Below is a compilation of excerpts from this past week’s letters. AlterNet will publish a weekly compilation of the letters each Friday. Click here for more information on the campaign and to read the first full letter.

***

Dear Marissa from Kai M Green:

“…She let him in. He was different this time. Unapologetic. He came in like this was his house. But this was my house. No, this was my mom’s house and I would protect her. She was silent. I wanted her to fight. She was silent. They were both in bed. He turned off the light. Mom didn’t like the lights off. This was her house. He took the remote control and changed the channel. Cowboy. Action. Mom liked game shows and sitcoms. She looked blue. He looked red. Silent. I watched. This is my house. This is my mom’s house.

Triggers. I went downstairs and I grabbed a knife. Mom couldn’t do it. I thought I could take this man’s life. Power. I would take it by force. I stood in the doorway. Television glared through the darkness. I held the knife up so he could see. I HATE YOU! I declared. 

Mom. Mom. I am here—don’t be scared. 

Triggers. He got out the bed. Took my knife. Made me feel weak. You little B—, just like your mother! He left. I cried. Alone. Mom lay in the dark room, still. I recovered the knife and put it under my pillow…”

Read the full letter here.

***

Dear Marissa from Kiese:

“…12 minutes. That’s how long it takes me to prepare a pot of grits. 12 minutes. That’s three songs off of this shiny Drake album I’ve been trying to make myself appreciate. 12 minutes. That’s how long it took me to write the first three sentences of this letter. 12 fucking minutes. That’s how long it took a jury to convict you of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though no one was harmed. 12 minutes. That’s how long it took a jury to convince themselves that you had no right to fear. ... What are the odds that a white American woman who shot at and missed a black American partner she claimed was threatening her would ever be convicted in these United States regardless the jury, prosecution, or defense … in 12 minutes? ...”

Read the full letter here.

***

Dear Marissa from James Wolf:

“…This man got into it with his wife, yet again. He cursed at her like he usually does right into their home. The woman yelled at him to leave her alone inside the trailer. They soon walked out, with him looking for and getting his baseball bat. 

I decided to step in, unarmed. I got in his face and tried to calm him down once again, but he seemed too far gone in his rage as he cursed me out still holding the bat as if he’s prepared to swing. I didn’t care. I was also prepared for whatever happens. I was not leaving until this man chilled out or at least left the area. I should’ve tried to take the bat away from him in hindsight, but after a minute or so, he dropped the bat and left to go who knows where….” 

Read the full letter here

***

Dear Marissa from Jason:

“…I think about the neighbors who hear, the men who hear, the one next door to me, who heard. What about them? Dear Neighbor, I write this letter with hopes of a better tomorrow, but my reality tells me different. I decided to write you because as far as a man goes, you were the closest to me in my time of pain and need. You only lived two doors down from my doorway of hell. The look you would so often give me, instead of a simple hello or nod, let me know you knew we couldn’t defend ourselves. Oh how I wished to have your age and size, maybe I could fight back or long enough so my mom could get away for the night. I often felt like a fool thinking tears would stop him or his blows to my mother's face. She was knocked to the floor more times than I care to remember. How often did you hear our cries? Was it hard listening to our struggles? Did you feel less of a man for never helping? ...”

Read the full letter here.

***

Dear Marissa from Mychal:

"As strongly as I feel about guns, and as much I want to live in a world where they don’t exist, I know the way our world is currently constructed guns are the only thing bringing some folks peace of mind. There are women with a gun under the pillow or in the closet or the dresser drawer right now because that’s the only way they can sleep at night. They’ve experienced the same violence you were trying to protect yourself against. The threat is all too real and they are in charge of their protection. I thank God they have their guns. ...”

Read the full letter here.

All the letters from the #31forMarissa campaign can be read on theSWAGspot, a space created by Esther Armah's Emotional Justice Unplugged, for men by men to challenge issues around masculinity, rage, violence, fear, anger, forgiveness, emotionality and love. 

To join the campaign or write a letter, email it to: [email protected].

#31forMarissa will host Google Hangouts on the topics of domestic violence, masculinity and men’s engagement in the movement. The first event took place Oct. 10, led by activist and author Jeff Johnson, with letter writers Darnell Moore and Kai Green.

Watch it here:

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet. 

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