Heading into the airport drop off lane, I was in the car behind you. Suddenly, the SUV in which you were a front passenger came to an abrupt halt, and your door flung open (or was it that the door opened, and so the car stopped? I now know it was the latter.)
When the door opened, you fell with great force, from a decent height, out of the car and on to the ground. You were on your hands and knees, but quickly straightened up, slammed the door, and rushed into the building. I noticed that your driver had made a large flurried gesture with his hands in your direction as you fell. Stunned, I immediately thought you had you been pushed. Your driver waited a couple of seconds after you left, and then sped off.
I wasn’t sure what I had witnessed, but I knew you had not simply stumbled. I leapt out of my own car to check on you. But you were fast. By the time I caught up with you, you were standing deep in the security queue. To the displeasure of other passengers, I forced my way to where you were and asked, “Are you ok?”
You knew what I was talking about. You were very young, early twenties I estimated, you were trembling, and had obviously been crying, but you looked me in the eye and said, “I’m ok.”
“Did he push you?”
“I jumped,” you said in a strong, stable voice. And then you gave a wry laugh. “I just needed to get away and get on this plane.”
I thrust my business card into your hand and told you that I could help you. You were surprised, and thanked me. I watched you clear security, worried that he would follow you…and then you disappeared into the relative safety of the departures area.
But I’ll never forget what you did today. Whatever was happening in the car, you felt the urgent need to escape immediately. I can identify with that need; when you cannot bear to be called one more name, when you need to get away because the man you love has disappeared, replaced by a man who wants to destroy you.
You actually jumped from a moving car to get away from that. I know what it must have taken for you to open that door and throw yourself out. Your spirit decided not to take a metaphorical, or literal, thrashing. You were your own hero today, and you were so brave. I’m so, so happy for you that on this day, you were able to escape a fate that many other women have not been lucky enough to avoid.
But if you ever in the future doubt yourself, and wonder whether anyone will help you, or that anyone cares, please remember that one person did, and will.
You inspired me to sign up to become a White Ribbon Australia advocate. I just took the oath on their website to “stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.” Taking the oath reinforced my realization that if you had the courage to jump out of a moving vehicle, I could surely have the courage to demonstrate that you are not alone.
In fact, you are far from alone. White Ribbon says of its oath, “183,860 people have got your back.” You might need to be your own hero again one day, but know 183,860 Australians took the time to swear an oath to have your back.
Actually, make that 183,861.
Take care of yourself, you incredible woman.
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