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The Letter That Changed the Nation
Out of deep suffering comes a kind of power only those who have suffered can weld. private story of struggle and turned to blessing. Bill Clinton Julie Renee Doering & OJ Simpson change the way US feels & deals with violence against women & children
By: 100% Healthy
My story, the story of changing millions of lives with the President of the United States, starts with a difficult childhood and an even more painful marriage.
I was a quiet, but precocious child. I did well in my studies but tried to hide the fact because girls were not supposed to be that smart, at least not in my family. At 16, my father told me I would not attend college. He laid out the plan for me in no uncertain terms. ‘You can either marry and have children or work in my factory as a mail girl.
I was just 16 when I met the man I would marry at a church retreat in Duluth. He was older by 6 years and was looking for a wife. After a long distance relationship we became engaged, I was married off to a pig farmer from southern Minnesota.
Three children and seven years of grief describe the lonely isolated bond. My then husband was a jealous sort who insisted I either care for the children or attend women’s meetings at the church. The last two years of our marriage I was not allowed to drive, or go to events without him.
It caused my friends great pain to see how poorly he treated me and they would apologize and tell me they couldn’t be around him, and would not come to our home. From the strain of physical and emotional abuse I was slowly loosing all that I loved about myself. I found it impossible to laugh or feel joy. My mood dropped to ‘severe depression’. I began to imagine the end of my existence.
You might wonder what happened those last two years that made it worse. I had tried to leave him, but my parents made it clear I could not come back to live with them, they actually told me ‘you’ve made your bed now lie in it’. So there I was trapped in an abusive marriage. To make matters even worse, his unwanted sexual advances during my fertile time caused another pregnancy. I remember the child coming in. At that moment there was so much pain, so much sorrow and a feeling of absolute hopelessness.
The neighbors didn’t realize I was with child until the seventh month. I was very ill. I had developed terminal cancer and was in surgery twice prior to my baby boy emerging into the world.
Divorce had to come. There would be no ‘me’ if I stayed in this horrible place.
I survived, my strong faith kept me going, but this abusive man on a whim changed his mind about giving me custody of the children. In the hallway of the courthouse he cornered me and told me, ‘You can’t survive without your children, you will come crawling back to me on your hands and knees begging for forgiveness, you’ll see.’
I survived with great difficulty, however I did manage to escape. After a long hard fight I lost custody of my children. My ex’s family had founded the town, the church, his father was running for Congress at the time. In addition the extended family had made sure no lawyer in a 75 miles radius of the town would take my case. I lost my case without adequate legal representation. My legal aid attorney had never gone to court, never tried a case, and could not mount a defense or offense. Effective legal representation against this powerful clan was not possible.
It was a gloomy time in my life. But slowly I began to build a new life for myself, amidst the ten years of radiation treatments and 17 surgeries. One fine day all this suffering became the fuel for my mission. I knew it was time to speak up and out against violence against women and children. My ultimate mission was to help men and women live wonderfully fulfilling lives by deeply honoring each other in healthy and vibrant ways.
The OJ Simpson trial was on full tilt when an internal message emerged from deep within me. Time for a letter addressed to the President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
The Letter That Changed a Nation
Have you ever felt that way? Convinced that you must be the one to change something way bigger than you think you are yourself? My life was small. I was surviving in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. They referred to the street corner I lived by as the co Geary corridor. Gang wars happened literally on my street. The Gangs were of Russian and Chinese descent. I was barely making it in so many ways. Now, with conviction and courage I wrote the letter of my life.
Dear President Clinton,
I am in pain, so much pain about how our country accepts violence towards women and children. Sir when I divorced in 1981 I was legally considered my husband’s chattel, I was his property and had no rights over what happened to my body while ‘owned’ by my husband. I escaped to a women’s shelter and have struggled every since. This shameful tolerance of abuse must stop, please, please help, you must take a stand against this.
Though I do not still have my original letter, I went on along these lines to write a three-page proposal of how we as a nation could end violence against women and children. I believe I told my story of escaping in three paragraphs and focused my letter on how we as a nation could turn this terrible problem around.
His response was rapid. I wondered, how did this get to him so fast? But within two weeks I had a letter arrive from the White House, on light green stationary, and the President’s seal. It was in his words; his signature and yes, he would help. He thanked me for taking the time to map out my ideas and asked me to send the proposal for ending violence against women and children to a Congresswoman who he had just appointed to a committee to end this unforgivable violence.
Enlisted and Ready to Serve
My heart fueled with emotion and desire to serve caused my fingers to fly with passion on an unfamiliar keyboard. I wrote a nine-page proposal. In this document I wrote out every idea I had to help the problem of violence and the tolerance of violence towards women and children. The items ranged from billboards and commercials on television to programs at places of worship and enforced rage management classes for offenders. Notices at medical centers helping women get out of violent relationships and training in schools for self worth for girls.
After a time, about 12 weeks, I received a three-page letter personally from the Congresswoman thanking me for my help. She apologized for the delay in responding however they had taken my letter into committee and were able to implement all of my ideas.
Becoming the Loudest Voice
I could not have been the voice of reason, the voice of urgent need or the voice the president would listen to had I not traversed a difficult start to life. Turning your challenges and painful beginnings into the fuel for great contribution is the opportunity we each are given.