I took self defense classes and taught Jasmine, my girlchild, what I learned. On an early evening we were walking on SE 14th St. in Springfield Oregon. To increase her independence, Jasmine, then 11 years old, was allowed to walk about a hundred feet ahead of me as long as she stayed in my sight.
A man on a ten speed bike was riding in our direction and I was surprised to see him stop, incline his head closely into my daughter’s face. It happened suddenly and I felt freaked out. All of a sudden Jasmine snapped back away from him, turned on her heel and sprinted back toward me yelling at the top of her lungs, “MOM, MOM, HE’S TRYING TO GET ME! HE’S TRYING TO GET ME MOM!” She continued yelling and I tore into him, also yelling, “HOW DARE YOU, BASTARD SON OF A BITCH, SICK EFFING FREAK STAY AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER!”
I wondered for a moment “what if nothing happened,” but my instincts told me otherwise, and I remembered the warm breath of Tess Wiseheart, former director of Portland Womens Crisis line, when she was reassuring me about telling my story during my self produced workshop “little experiments, yes we exist.” Tess breathed words of life into me, “what if you’re RIGHT.”
In this moment with my daughter, I innately knew we were right, though pushing though the internalized oppression caused the old fears that I was “bad, stupid, ugly or crazy.”
What mattered most was my daughter felt safe enough in her own skin, and from the inside out, to immediately take steps for her own protection. As a mother breaking generational cycles of the silent acceptance of harassment and myriad abuses, I felt great! Girlchild knew she could come to me and that I would support and believe her. And across 4 lanes of traffic and two turn lanes, I saw people stop in their tracks, stare across the street in wonder at what our noise was all about.
- Rachel and Jasmine Cerise
Location: SE 14th St. in Springfield, ORShare on Facebook