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Each year, the R.O.S.E. Fund receives numerous applications for our awards. These applicants tell stories that are, at once, poignant, heartbreaking and awe-inspiring.
The stories we hear from these remarkable women are constant reminders of the tremendous support we receive from our donors and volunteers. Because of this continued support, we are able, proud and extremely humbled to announce the 2009 recipient of the R.O.S.E. Fund Award; a woman of extraordinary spirit and strength of character: Nadine Walker Mooney.
Nadine’s story greatly moved and encouraged all of us at the R.O.S.E. Fund; now, we would like to share some excerpts from her incredible story of transforming from a victim of brutal abuse to the epitome of an astonishingly courageous survivor.
“In spite of our mutual reason for coming together, I am happy that the R.O.S.E. Fund has made it possible for the opportunity to connect with all of you. I am certain that the sharing of our respective stories will ease some of our pain. In addition, I am hopeful that our stories will empower our lives for the better.
My new life is more challenging than anything I have dealt with. I am legally blind. I have been this way since March 20, 2006. On that day, I became the victim of an attempted murder/ suicide.
I was involved in a relationship that I tried to end. He would not let me. What he did to me then, to him[self] and our families, was horrific, sad and completely unnecessary. I made every effort to end the relationship in an amicable manner. But, he was very possessive, obsessive and destructive.
Knowledge of these things prompted me to put a quick end to this relationship. I was faced with the fear that he might kill himself and take me with him. In the end, my fears were confirmed. That is exactly what he tried to do, on that fateful morning in March. I survived. He did not.
Besides losing my vision, my hearing has been somewhat reduced. The doctors expected me to have very little hearing left. But, because I took such good care of my health and body, I was able to make what the doctors called “an amazing recovery.” I no longer have any sense of smell and my taste buds have been drastically reduced. I have just enough to enjoy the food I eat. Thank God for that.
But, I can walk and talk and think and move and hug and kiss and smile and breathe and dance and sing and so much more.
My children are grown. I have four: three girls and a son. They are wonderful and productive and strong and kind and loving and intelligent. Three of them have children; I have six grandchildren: Five girls and one boy. They are all incredibly funny, smart and beautiful. [They] could not have asked for better parents.
Prior to the ‘incident’ that left me blind, life was good. I had a wonderful career as a medical skincare professional. I had a nice apartment in Boston’s upscale South End. I had an active social life and lots of fun times. I was applying to Northeastern University for a degree as a Physician Assistant. This is one level below an M.D. My new ambitions were to work in the operating room of one of Boston’s top hospitals, specializing in plastic surgery.
These dreams have come to a screeching halt.
This relationship was a short one. We had been together for only eleven months. On a Monday night, April 18, 2005, the man who would forever change the direction of my life walked through the door of a Boston jazz club I often frequented. Ron approached me and started up a conversation. He was physically attractive. I found him somewhat interesting, funny and sure of himself. Before I left, he asked for my phone number. I took his but did not give him mine. When I finally called him, he was more than ready to see me again. During our first date, he told me that if I had not called him, he would have returned to the club, every Monday night, until he saw me again. In hindsight, I should have suspected certain things about his character that could be a problem. But, I did not. Like most women, I was flattered by his admission.
Our relationship started [well]. He was very considerate, funny and very protective of me. But, by the eighth month, things rapidly began to change. He started showing parts of his character that were going to be a problem: he became easily angered, very jealous and hit and hurt me on two different occasions as a result of his own insecurities. He was likely an alcoholic. His bouts with depression returned after I told him I wanted to end our relationship. Then, he became threatening and began stalking me when I refused to see him. By now, though, it would be too late to get out of this unscathed. Making matters worst, he practically lived at my place. I made the terrible mistake of giving him a key to my apartment. In the end, I had to change the locks on the main hallway and my apartment doors. As a result, I also had to pay for eight additional hallway keys made for the other tenants in my building. Consequently, my landlord threatened to evict me if he was seen visiting me. I was OK with that. This threat of eviction would allow me to tell him, in the hope that this would make him stay away.
But, neither the changing of the locks, nor the threat of eviction, kept him away. He told me that a restraining order would not keep him away, either. He admitted to having received those in the past. So, rather than staying away, he began stalking me in the mornings, on my way to catch the train for work.
It was on one of those mornings when he attacked me. It was shortly after I left my home for work, between 6:10 and 6:15 in the morning.
Through God’s mercy, I have no recollection of the attack. But, what I do know is that his possessive, obsessive and jealous personality would not allow him to let me find happiness elsewhere.
I awoke one day in Boston Medical Center to the sound of familiar voices of family members, engaged in conversation with each other. I had no idea where I was, or what had happened. I knew that whatever was wrong with me, he had done it.
Upon awakening, I saw only blackness. Then, I raised my hand to touch my face. My eyes were covered with heavy gauze bandages. I found a long stitched incision along the left side of my jaw. My mouth was wired shut. I discovered later that my right eye had been reconstructed then stitched shut; I no longer had an eyeball in there. I ran my hand over my head to discover that most of my hair had been shaved off. I had metal staples running across my head, from one ear to the other. This incision was done so that, whenever the surgeons had to perform another surgery, they could cut and fold down the skin from this scalp incision while unfolding the skin down over my face. This surgical approach would avoid leaving scars over the surface of my face, and saved me from looking like Frankenstein’s daughter.
These very skilled doctors did an incredible job of putting me back together. My daughters made sure of that by providing them with photos of me, before the ‘incident.’
Beyond my obvious physical scars, I had the emotional ones to deal with. I will never see again. I will never be able to look upon the faces of my children or grandchildren, my mother or that I know and love. I will never see the sunrise or set. I will never smell the aromas of life or of nature. I will never again see or smell those things in life that we take for granted. Instead, I live and move in total darkness all day every day. No matter where I go or what I do, I will see only darkness and smell nothing. My hearing has been reduced, in part, to the constant non-stop sound of electrical currents that I hear. Cover your own ears and you will hear what I hear, all day everyday. Except, I hear it louder.
I began a residential program at the Carroll Center for the Blind, where I lived for three months. Here, I received training in independent living: how to cook, clean my home, use a talking computer, mobility training with a cane, iron and use a washing machine and dryer, use of a vacuum cleaner, etc. One-on-one counseling services were also part of my training in independent living, as well as one class per week of group counseling. We lived in a mansion that had been converted into a dormitory. Upon completion of this program, I returned to Boston Medical Center for my final major facial surgery.
I began seeing a therapist once a week. Now, I attend my sessions only once or twice a month, as needed. I have never taken medication for depression, and hope I never will need to.
In March of 2007, I moved into my new apartment. Thanks to my training at the Carroll Center for the Blind, I am able to live alone. It is easier that way. I do not have to worry about anyone leaving shoes or things on the floor for me to fall over, or, things on or near the stove for me to set on fire. I no longer have any sense of smell; by the time the smoke detectors go off, the house could be engulfed in fire.
Due to the loss of my vision, I am currently living on social security disability income. I must be retrained in another field before I can hope to find a job. In this current recession, with so many skilled workers unemployed, I have no idea when I’ll be able to return to work. But, rather than worry about it, I am making plans to attend school for a degree in political law and advocacy. I am planning on a career in public policy, researching different degree and certificate programs offered at local universities and colleges. My goal is to become a political advocate, in order to help change or create laws / policies that help battered women, the disabled and the elderly.
I’m interested in training as a motivational speaker in order to inspire others to control the destiny and outcomes of their lives. I am currently engaged in talks with various women’s centers and organizations for speaking assignments, as well as other volunteer opportunities that will be helpful to many.
I do not want this tragic thing that has happened to me to be swept under the rug. I want to turn this tragedy into a triumph for helping others avoid, or get away from abuse in their lives.”
With great excitement, the R.O.S.E. Fund announces another name from its roster of supporters and honorees. Highly accomplished lawyer and professor Sarah Buel will receive the Sterling R.O.S.E. Award of Excellence at the Annual Awards Gala in October.
Buel, originally from Chicago, Illinois, has long been an advocate of domestic violence (DV) prevention and support to its victims. Her dedication to the issue stems largely from her own history as a DV survivor, as she married into an abusive relationship at the age of twenty.
Born in 1953, Buel was very ambitious even as a child, despite her familial background. Her mother had married an abusive man and her siblings were frequently in trouble; it was expected that she would follow in their footsteps. However, Buel had higher hopes for herself and moved to New York after the 8th grade to continue her education. From that day forward, she was the epitome of self-sufficiency: She worked her way through high school and college for several years until she earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1987; for many of those latter years, she was a single mother.
Buel then went on to study at Harvard Law School, eventually graduating cum laude in 1990. During her time there, she was very committed to the the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and also founded the Harvard Battered Women’s Advocacy Project, the Harvard Women in Prison Project, as well as the Harvard Children and Family Rights Project.
Since then, Buel has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of DV. Following her days in law school, she worked as a state policy coordinator and legal aid paralegal. Eventually, she became a prosecutor with the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office in Quincy, Massachusetts, where she contributed to the formation of many esteemed DV and juvenile programs.
For over 30 years, Buel has continued to focus on the deterrence of DV, in addition to support of its victims. Today, she is a Clinical Professor at the University of Texas School of Law, teaching Domestic Violence and the Law, criminal law and torts courses. She founded and still directs many of the school’s advocacy programs, including the Domestic Violence Clinic, Voices Against Violence and the interdisciplinary University of Texas Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Though she carries her own list of accomplishments far too long to be recited in one sitting, Buel frequently notes that she carries no greater pride than that for her son, Jacey, who also graduated from law school after working with at-risk teens in Boston for five years.
The 14th Annual R.O.S.E. Fund Awards Gala will take place on October 13, 2009 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. For tickets and more information, please visit: http://rosefund.org/events.html
Happy Labor Day Weekend from The R.O.S.E. Fund (Regaining One’s Self Esteem)
I wanted to wish all of you a happy and safe Labor Day weekend and provide you with a brief update on how your continued support of The R.O.S.E. Fund continues to profoundly improve the lives of women survivors of domestic violence. Since our last email, earlier this summer, a number of R.O.S.E. recipients have returned to the labor force and a few others are about to launch new careers as recent graduates of colleges, nursing programs and law schools.
The thread that runs through all of the R.O.S.E. programs is helping women to regain their self-esteem. Some of these women have returned to the labor force based on the new skills they developed on a R.O.S.E. scholarship. Others had already earned their degrees and had good careers but hadn’t been working because of the mental and physical effects of an abusive relationship. They didn’t have the courage or the confidence to get a job, or even an interview, because of unsightly facial scars, disfigurements and/or missing and cracked teeth.
Through the strength and generosity of the R.O.S.E. network of dentists and doctors, these women have taken critical steps towards rebuilding their lives and renewing their self-esteem. Not only have these participating doctors erased scars and given these women beautiful smiles; they’ve given them a reason to smile. These successful medical outcomes provide these women with not only a refreshed outlook, but also the self-esteem and self-confidence they need to effectively interview and secure a good job. With your support, these courageous women have been able to rebuild their lives, return to the workforce and increase their financial independence.
A couple of recent R.O.S.E. recipients (S.R*.is a R.O.S.E. Scholar and R.D.* is a R.O.S.E. Award Winner) have recently graduated from law school, taken the bar exam and are excited to launch their legal careers. Both are committed to dedicating a portion of their time to serve as legal advocates for other women survivors of domestic violence. Other past R.O.S.E. recipients (Scholars, Award Winners and Reconstructive Surgery Recipients) recently shared with us how they are bringing more women into the labor force as they are growing their organizations (M.C.* owns a beauty salon north of Boston, and M.L*. just opened her third domestic violence shelter this summer in the southwest). They credit the support they received from R.O.S.E. as having played a significant role in enabling them to start and grow their organizations that are focused on the safety and self-esteem of women.
Perhaps the sentiments of these women are best captured in the words of a 53 year old mother E.K.* who, with R.O.S.E. support, continues to advance her nursing career:
“With help and support from R.O.S.E., I found and used the keys to free myself. The best thing is that I have a career that I want, a career that I’m excited about and one where I can make a real difference in people’s lives. I do not believe in revenge as a rule. But having my independence and my financial freedom is truly the best feeling in the world, and the sweetest form of vindication. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve given me. You’ve given me back my life.”
Your hard work, generosity and ongoing support of R.O.S.E. enables us to invest in these women, their families (80% of R.O.S.E. recipients are mothers) and their futures; investments that continue to pay forward rich and rewarding dividends. With your support, the cycle of violence is being replaced with a cycle of empowerment, with women helping women.
Thanks again for your support and helping us to achieve all of the above. Enjoy a safe and happy holiday weekend. I look forward to seeing you soon at the 2009 Annual R.O.S.E. Awards Gala on Tuesday night, October the 13th at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Hotel.
Daniel J. Walsh
Chairman and Executive Director
The R.O.S.E. Fund