Domestic abuse put out in the street

As 1,200 celebrate victories and mourn losses, SafePlace brings in $200,000

by Mike Kelley
Austin American-Statesman
Monday, April 20, 1998

[Excerpts, with comments added by Ed and Chris Born-Long]

More than 1,200 people [including us!] marched through downtown Austin on Sunday in celebration of those who have survived domestic violence and in memory of others who lost their lives to it.

The march was on behalf of SafePlace, the shelter and service organization created this year from the merger of the former Rape Crisis Center and the Center for Battered Women.

The event culminated SafePlace's largest annual community fund-raiser, as many participants who have been collecting money for weeks turned in about $200,000. [And we're thrilled that we could chip in almost $1,600, thanks to the generosity of many wonderful friends and co-workers.]

According to SafePlace, about 900 women and children found shelter at the Center for Battered Women last year, while about 1,400 were turned away for lack of room.

The marchers assembled at Wooldridge Park, where bands played and children romped. But there was no attempt to escape the underlying seriousness of the occasion.

As they returned to the park from their nearly two-mile walk to Town Lake and then the Capitol, marchers put hundreds of white-and-yellow daisies in front of a large display of newspaper clippings that recorded the reason for Sunday's ceremonies. [Annie's photo was on the board, along with a newspaper clipping from the Fresno Bee about her murder.]

For Cindy Wood, 43, the former Center for Battered Women was where she and her child found shelter eight times, until she decided to end a long and abusive relationship. Today she is working and going to Austin Community College.

Cindy Wood survived. Ed Born-Long's daughter did not. She was killed last year while attending college in Fresno, Calif., shortly after ending a relationship with a man. There has been no arrest.

A friend of the Born-Longs told them about the Center for Battered Women here, and they have supported it, and now SafePlace, ever since. "I think I'm doing the best in memory of my daughter," he said, "rather than involving myself in a bunch of hate, retribution for her murderer."

[The Walk for Safe Families was yet another enriching SafePlace experience for us. It's interesting about these gatherings. As Mike Kelley says earlier, "there was no attempt to escape the underlying seriousness of the occasion." Everyone comes together because of awful, horrible, dreadful things that have happened to them and to people near to them. And yet the sweep of warmth and love and empathy and embrace somehow make it a happy event.]

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