Some people are astonished by Libby's Christmas list, in which the 11-year-old asks for a self-defense class, a job and the ability to sleep "and not be scared anymore."
Tanya Blackford was not.
Although Libby seemed to be a terribly precocious 11-year-old, many of her fears are common, said Blackford, executive director of Mainstay, a domestic violence shelter.
"When you this kind of work you sort of forget what it's like to want those things for Christmas," she said. "It's quite humbling to read it."
In an interview, Blackford elaborated on the threats and responses that occur in domestic violence situations.
1. "That's one of the things that carries on, that feeling of not being safe, of still being afraid. That takes a long time to get over. It takes years to get past the idea and feeling of being afraid.... The average family leaves seven times before they leave for good. And that's because of housing and finances," family ties, community ties.
2. "I think a lot of people want to change and start over. It's often not the partner that's calling. It's all of that extended network that we all have that are also part of what makes it difficult to leave an abusive relationship. Sometimes the fear of leaving is much greater than the fear of staying and the occasional abuse.
3. "You're just afraid. Until you live like that you don't understand.
4. "You don't want to invite someone over. You see lots of children with significant issues in families that have violence. Most of the kids who come into the shelter are starting over.
5. "I don't think people think about when they bring us Christmas gifts. Where do they have to put those toys with the 9,000 pieces? We had a bunch of bikes donated last year. Where do they put them? How do they take them?
6. "That's pretty typical of kids in the shelter. We see clothes and we see pajamas and we see underwear, we see socks. We see really practical stuff."
7. Gym membership.
8. Shorts and tee PJ set.
9. "They want the same educational opportunities other kids have."
10. Gift cards to order books.
11. "It's touching."
12. A job.
13. "I think that's pretty sincere."
14. "The maturity of it and the sense of hope that she has."
Libby and her mom have escaped the abuser.
"She's doing great, and we had an anonymous volunteer buy everything on her list," Blackford said. "They're in a safe place."
The fundraising campaign has been well-received, she said.
"We've gotten some great phone calls. Some people asked if it was real or if we made it up."
Blackford wishes it was made up. But it's not.
Read the Lightning editorial: http://www.hendersonvillelightning.com/opinion/2321-lightning-editorial-libby-s-christmas-list-tells-the-story.html
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