I’ve shared before about why I vote now, how politics influenced me personally, and why my participation as a voter is important to those who I impacted as a former teacher. This will be the second run-off election our sons have seen up close. Unfortunately, unlike before, this election has felt like something I’ve needed to protect them from. For months now, if we watch tv, they hear interviews regarding guns to temples and more.
My children aren’t unaware of domestic violence. Though they have not experienced it themselves, they do know that it has occurred in their extended family. They also know that I struggle and so they struggle too. When violence occurs within a family, it is felt for generations, regardless of when the actual violence ceases. I’ve been honest when they’ve asked. Though their father has never been violent towards me, early childhood experiences witnessing violence have created gut reactions in me. For years, I thought I was fine, that those changes in my brain due to early trauma didn’t truly impact me. Then I had my own children and I began to fall apart. I was always falling apart, but I didn’t know that. When being afraid all of the time is normal, it doesn’t really occur to you that it’s not normal. My children have seen their father come and find me, sobbing in the corner of the hallway, talking to me like I was a scared dog, squatting low to the ground, coaxing me out from the hiding place I didn’t even know I’d created. They’ve also watched me immediately apologize to him for random things, like too salty food, forgetting to move the laundry, taking a shower, etc. Essentially, they’ve seen me apologize for existing in my own home. They’ve seen me be afraid of their dad for no logical reason. When a child witnesses violence, it stays with them, no matter how young they were at the time of that violence. The fear lives in their skin, in their nose, their ears, their taste and sight, ready to break through unconscious emotional barriers when any random event or experience triggers those sense memories to come forth. A grown woman can disassociate, disengage, and emotionally disappear with just the sound of a raised voice.
Today is the last day to vote in Georgia. If you typically vote Republican, I won’t ask you to vote for Warnock. I understand that he represents many things that you don’t want and you don’t feel right in voting for him. I will ask you not to vote at all. I genuinely believe, in this situation, it is better for you to exercise your right not to vote than to vote for Walker. He is a poor representative of the Republican party, but that’s not reason enough alone to abstain from voting for him, especially if you’ve always voted Republican and can’t fathom not doing so. If you do decide to vote for Walker, please recognize that you’re telling every child in the state of Georgia who has watched tv in the last six months that harming women is acceptable, that using a gun to threaten and control a woman is acceptable, that voting along party lines is more important than keeping women safe. If you have voted for Republican candidates because of your religious faith, then that same religious faith should have led you to believe that not voting for Walker was the right choice. If you can’t in good conscience vote for Rev. Warnock, then use that same conscience to drive right by the polls today.