Men on Domestic Violence: "I Don’t Want to be Frozen Silent When I Witness Violence"

Editor's Note: A nationwide, month-long letter-writing campaign called #31forMarissa has finished its fourth 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 campaign has attracted men of all races and backgrounds. Every single day throughout October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #31forMarissa will publish these letters of support to Marissa Alexander. The letters will then be sent to Alexander, a Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in jail after firing a warning shot at a wall near her abusive husband. She neither hit nor hurt anyone. On Sept. 25, a judge ordered a new trial for Alexander. Below is a compilation of excerpts from this past week’s letters. AlterNet will publish a weekly compilation of the letters. Click here for more information on the campaign and to read the first full letter.

On Oct. 31, there will be a status hearing for Alexander’s case. The state will either drop the case or set dates for the re-trial. Learn more here about sending letters, faxes or calling Prosecutor Angela Corey to encourage her to drop the case. 

UPDATE: Corey did not drop Alexander's case, and instead set the date for her new trial to March 31, 2014.  Protesters rallied outside the courtroom on Thursday. 


Dear Marissa from Feminist Bhai (Bhai means “brother” in Hindu, the language of the letter writer's ancestors):

"When I read about what happened to you, I’m filled with terror. I feel paralyzed. I recognize that it’s the same terror I felt when I witnessed violence as a child, which kept me frozen, stifled and silent. … I used to cry myself to sleep while they screamed right outside of my bedroom. I was always alone. … I try hard to recall where my dad was during all this. I have memories from when I was very young. … At some point, he disappears from those memories. … I think he got overwhelmed and never had a space to show his own struggles.  I don’t want to be frozen silent when I witness violence. That’s not how I want to live. In spite of my own struggles, I’m writing to let you know that I stand with you. I stand with you, Marissa, hand-in-hand with other men in my life who haven’t found their voices yet, either."

Read the full letter here.


Dear Marissa, from A Grandfather "L":

"If Stand Your Ground applies to a rogue like Trayvon Martin's murderer, it should apply to you even more so especially when nobody was even hurt, but instead you prevented a mortal attack.  I don't have much insight on the hubris some men bear, except all the drinking and the beating is quite bad. I grew up with these things. I have been a loving, teetotaler of a husband and a non-violent father as best payback. I have nothing special going, no great accomplishments, except every day finding beauty in my wife, my daughter and her boyfriend and my granddaughter in balance with whatever else.”

Read the full letter here.


Dear Marissa, from Devon from the Brotha 2 Brotha Summit:

"I want you to know you was not wrong at all for firing that gun up into the air. You was sending a sign, holding your ground and letting your husband know that you wasn't taking this anymore. … No man should put their hands on a women, you, not harming anybody but defending yourself, goes to jail. This sounds pretty foolish."

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. It uses letters, words, stories, poems and quotes as its form of communication.

To join the campaign or write a letter, email it to:

On Oct. 27, Esther Armah, #31forMarissa campaign co-organizer, and David Leonard, who wrote a letter as part of the campaign, appeared on CNN's Newsroom with Don Lemon to discuss the campaign and domestic violence. You can watch it here.

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