Is It Easier To Look The Other Way?

IMG_5373_1_copyrightIf you see it but look the other way does that mean that you do not have to acknowledge you saw it? This question continues to haunt me because I believe I am often that person.

I had an idea and needed some help to pull it off. I solicited three women, my makeup artist friend and two girlfriends. The goal, recreate a battered woman and a women in the sex trafficking world, go downtown, take some photos and videos then tell a story.

A pack of cigarettes and a lighter, doesn’t every prostitute smoke? It felt a little weird as I entered the gas station to purchase these items. I felt compelled to tell the guy behind the register they were not for me. He gave me a strange smile as I turned and walked away. Once in the car we all kind of chuckled as we looked at that pack of Marlboro Reds.IMG_5390_1_copyright

Next stop the Greyhound bus station. I did not really have a solid plan, just a vision. As we rolled up to the curb it was a pretty typical scene, people hanging around and a few taxi cabs parked in front. I wanted to go to the back of the building where the buses park. Kyla said, “I don’t think we can be back here.” I snickered inside and thought, “Who is going to stop us.” Here we were, a normal looking gal with a camera, a battered woman and a prostitute, no one would suspect we were all well equipped with multiple items and prepared to defend ourselves if needed.

IMG_5401_1_copyrightWe then made our way to the campus of Reno, Nevada to take some photos in a deserted parking garage; an eerie feeling came over us all. Why, because we were standing where my friend Amanda Collins was brutally raped at gunpoint. The college was on Christmas break so there were not many cars or people around. Suddenly we heard a car approaching, as we turned to look it was a police car, followed by a second one. They drove within feet of us; I thought for sure they were going to stop and ask what we were doing or if we needed some help. Nope, they just drove past us, perhaps it was easier to look the other way.

We continued on, sleazy motels, the river and the main strip in Reno, Virginia St. and the infamous arch. All of the sudden something began to change in me. I was watching as my prostitute and battered woman were just blending in, they seemed invisible to those around them. People would look and then quickly look away, except for one. A man who appeared to be pretty down and out looked at Carol; he was genuinely concerned and offered his help. We told him it was just makeup and she was fine, he rode away on his bike with his dog and a small baggie filled with cigarettes. I pondered the fact that he did not have much to offer but he did anyway. Our day was filled with many more stories and visions that I will carry with me.IMG_5423_1

As my head hit the pillow that evening and the tears rolled off my cheeks I began to absorb the enormity of the issues that women deal with every day. I found myself praying for all those women who have to live it out for real day after day after day. These women do not get to wash the makeup off and make it all go away.

As we began to clarify the mission of One Million United we realized that we needed to look at the bigger picture. It’s time to put women’s safety in the forefront in all we say and do. We are developing our resource page; this will be an ongoing project providing links and valuable information on the OMU website. We believe we are better together and excited to build a business affiliate section, providing you with access to trainers and businesses who believe in safety training and education. We also envision a speaking and training team being established to travel and spread the safety message nationwide. Over the coming months we would also like to start a variety of campaigns and opportunities for you to personally get involved with. We are not sure where this journey will take us but we know we can no longer just look away. I hope you will join us.IMG_5432_1

I am boldly asking you to sign the One Million United Declaration which is located on the home page of the OMU website. If you feel compelled please consider making a financial donation, any amount will help our cause. Your donation will allow us to begin to spread the safety message, the message that says you are valued and worth protecting. http://www.onemillionunited.com/help-support-omu/

“If you do not go after what you want; you will never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.” -Nora Roberts

Until next time…

VK_heart

Johana’s Story

My name is Johana Kawelmacher; I’m the daughter of Vicki Kawelmacher. My mom has always taught me to be aware of my surroundings. This advice helped me seven years ago when I was ten years old. In an instant, I was the target of child abduction; fortunately I got away before they could throw me into a moving vehicle. I was aware of the vehicle and the two men sitting inside as soon as I went outside, it felt strange to me, this car was out of place and I’d never seen it before. Looking back I should have gone back into my house, but remember, I was only ten years old at the time.

I am now seventeen years old; I’ve taken my safety to the next level with Charles Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’m currently a blue belt and working to get my black belt. Training in martial arts helps prepare me if I ever find myself in a situation where I must fight to survive.

Watching horrible stories unfold on the news about rape, or someone being beaten and or killed hurts me and my mom because sometimes it seems to take a tragic life event for women to get training or make the decision to carry some form of protection. Something as simple as a pepper spray or a little knife might just make the difference between life and death. Choose safety because you are worth it and so am I.

Kim’s Story

I just read your post about your daughter almost being abducted when she was 10 and I have to say I can totally relate…..as the 10 year old myself.

This was back in 1979 or 1980 and I was about 10.  My grandparents lived only a few miles away from our home and I went there often….but it was in the country on a country road and somewhat isolated.   One of my classmates actually lived about 1/4 mile down the street from my grandparents and it was nothing strange for me to walk over to their farm and hang out and play in the afternoon.  The only problem is that there were lots of trees and bushes so nobody could see directly from one house to the other.

Back then, nobody really talked about abductions and therefore, as a kid, I never even thought about it….until that one day.   I was walking along the road to my friend’s house and thankfully on the same side of my friend’s house.  An old, huge boat sized car stopped and a middle aged man got out and hollered over the roof of the car asking if I wanted some candy. I was smart and instinctual and knew that was bad and ran through the peach orchard which was the front yard to my friend’s house.  Had I been on the other side of the road…..it may not have turned out like it did. What gets me to this day is…. Why was I “embarrassed” or “ashamed” to say anything? It’s like I totally lost my voice at that moment and was so scared, that I just wanted to forget it ever happened.  I never said a word about it to my friend’s mom or even my grandma that day! I just played like normal as soon as I got to the door!  Crazy, isn’t it?!   I finally told my mom about it a day later when it was too late for law enforcement to get involved.

My point is that even though my story isn’t tragic, as far as having a tragic ending, it’s tragic in the sense that there are children I’m sure today that feel the same way when confronted with a situation as this and sadly, their ending IS tragic.  I pray that everyone…women and children will get the courage they need to stand up for themselves and learn how to protect themselves from situations like this.  By the grace of God, I was saved from that situation and thankfully have not had any close encounters since.  But, I can tell you now…..there is no way on this earth I will ever go down easy.  I will fight to my very last breath God allows me to have and by having my concealed license and learning how to carry responsibly, I will have the courage to handle myself if a bad situation arises again.

Thank you for all you do!

-Kim