day that he was put into prison is the day that she
blossomed into the flower that she has become. In
her case, she didn't need counseling, she didn't
need therapy, and she didn't need to pray more ...
All she needed was for the threat in her life to be
gone. Now is as good a time as any for me to tell
you how she's handled her life and what she's
did not sit still as many others have done ... She
didn't hide it. She went out into public without
makeup on and she even allowed her battered picture
to be displayed on a large billboard. Besides being
instrumental in sending her spouse/abuser to prison,
she became very vocal and has even influenced some
of our laws. As soon as she could … She divorced
him. In addition to raising four kids, she donates
much of her time to any who will hear her voice ...
She wants to be heard! So far, she has sacrificed
much to help others and has been compensated very
little for any of her work. She has one of the most
hectic schedules of anyone that I’ve ever known.
every turn, our Legal and Social Services systems
have let her down. And had she stood still for one
minute and tolerated any of it, her ex-husband
would’ve been out of prison long before now and
would’ve made good on his promise to her ... That
she and her children would be dead! She had to
fight her own way through this whole process. Oh,
she got some help from her friends, but she didn’t
get the help we’d expect her to get from the taxes
we pay … She had to scramble around the best that
she could on her own. Anyway, he went to prison and
you’d think that would be the end the story ... No
Sir, far from it.
we aren’t even touching on one of the saddest parts
of this story. There are no government programs,
whatsoever ... For the assistance of children with a
parent in prison. What the hell are we thinking
about! And even worse ... Why have we allowed
ourselves to forget them? What about them … And on
their own, how are these children supposed to make
it? That brings to surface yet another subject …
The message on the birthday card.
came in the mail for his daughter’s eighth
birthday. Heather thought it rather odd that before
now, he had not shown much interest in their
children. She opened it and looked at it. I was a
simple little card and obviously meant for a child’s
birthday. “That’s such a nice gesture,” she
thought. “At last he’s showing some concern for
his kids’ feelings.” But as she inspected it
further, in her throat, a lump began growing.
card had a picture of a piece of furniture with a
clock sitting on top of it. Right above the clock
was his handwritten note…
“It’s just a matter of …”
“How could he! Oh lord, how could he do that,”
she screamed internally. “Here I
am, ready to give him another chance. But it’s the
same old thing as before … Every time I open myself
up to him just a little, he beats me back down
child was only eight then and would not have
understood … But her Mother did! Considering his
previous Death Threat that “All three of you will
die by my hands” and that she’d known him well
for ten years … She could see that he was finally
learning from his blunders. Prison was helping
Tommy Price, Jr. He had learned that if he wanted
to relay a meaning, this time he’d better make it
subtle. Yes, Heather understood … She knew him!
The court system might not, but she got the message
loud and clear! But as before in all of her other
struggles, she would not give in to his cruelty.
She and her children would be much greater than just
casualties … They would endure all of this! How
does she do it? How does she live, and how does she
provide for herself and her dear children? Listen
to me and I’ll tell you.
has very little money and for them all to survive,
she must make every minute and every penny count.
She must keep a beehive schedule for her kids and
herself to keep a roof over their heads and food on
the table. Around her children’s timetable, she
works at several jobs. She rides around on slick
tires, can hardly pay her utilities and rent, and
has never had her own home.
of us are raised and programmed to “make it on
our own,” but for some of us, it’s tougher than
others. Although society would frown on her for
doing so, it amazes me that she hasn’t resorted to
prostitution … What would we do if we had no more
Throughout all of this, she endures constant spinal
pain. Yet, at the drop of a hat, whenever someone
needs her help or comfort, she’ll drop whatever
she’s doing and before you know it, she’s right
there ... Finding refuge for a victim, mourning at a
funeral, raising hell at a meeting, pounding on the
desks of Politicians, District Attorneys, Lawyers or
Judges. Surely, many folks who question their own
status in these matters ... Hate to see her coming!
has spoken before Legislative Committees and
influenced the making of better laws. She has
appeared on television shows. She speaks frequently
to students in High Schools and from the pulpits of
Churches that allow women to speak … Her voice can
also be heard. She will not sit still. She boldly
fights the never-ending battle against bureaucracy.
She is one of the bravest people I’ve ever known.
Her health is less precious to her than achieving
her goal and speaking out. How many of us feel so
strongly about what we do with our lives? How many
of us would expose ourselves, knowing that at any
moment, a self-described killer might be released
from prison and we could receive a shotgun blast to
the back of our heads? The life that she leads is
filled with potholes, but she carries on with
optimism ... “Yes, I will make a difference.
Yes, I will be heard!” I’m sure Heather isn’t
perfect, but surely, she deserves much better than
that ... As do all the other women like her.
“How in the world,” I wonder, “does she keep
her chin up and that smile on her face?”
has contempt for the government supported system
that is so filled with flaws that it’s rotten … And
it’s not just one person’s fault, we’re all guilty.
Although our hearts may be in the right place, we
think to ourselves … “Hey, it’s not my fault,
it’s that person down the hall.” Nobody takes
responsibility and the situations get worse. Too
many times, there’s no one there to even empathize.
don’t even think about what it’s like for women like
her … To go through the unending maze of locked
doors, only to be turned away because one single
criterion was not met or one form was not signed
right. We can’t even imagine the horror of coming
to a Shelter in the middle of the night with a
murderer hot on our trail … Only to find a locked
door. And if we are lucky enough to get in, to then
be forced to use our own food stamps, because the
benefits that were meant for us have already been
taken by somebody else, probably staff. A feeling
of tremendous despair must be felt, for those forced
out of a Shelter early, while their abuser anxiously
awaits their return. And these women must certainly
wonder, “Is my life important at all, and if so …
we serve on Juries, we constantly hear statements
from the abuser like “The devil made me do it,”
or “I was out of my mind and didn’t know what
I was doing.” Where is our outrage? Will we
continue to empathize with him and forget about
her? Will we keep right on giving him a light
sentence or sending him to a mental institution?
Will we ever learn to see past the cool composure of
the sorry bastard who has so obviously beaten up or
killed his prey? Will we ever learn to listen to
her soft voice or the silence of her grave? Are
males really all that much better than females?
can’t even imagine what it must feel like for an
abused woman … To be victimized by a maniac and then
again by the system set up to support her, over, and
over, and over again … And to be beaten almost to
death and then have no one to turn to, and on top of
that, to be treated as a whore.
of these women are not just trailer park trash, as
we might think. Many are wives of Doctors, Lawyers,
Ministers, Police Officers and all other
professionals … And if you saw them in the Mall,
you’d never know! They go through their lives with
fake smiles on their faces. They hide it. They
disguise the terror. Their bruises are hidden by
makeup … Their pain doesn’t show. In many cases,
even their best friends don’t know! They’re
embarrassed. They protect the ones who abuse them
because they keep hoping and praying ... “Maybe
he’ll change if I just give him another chance and
after all ... He just apologized and sent me flowers
today.” Surely, there are hundreds of
thousands, if not millions … Of women out there like
that. These women who manage to live through this
horror are so much more that just victims ...