When I began writing the domestic violence story line in Between Friends, I really had no idea what the story was going to be. This story line has literally been pieced together from discussions and tidbits of information I've found through my interviews with shelters and domestic violence agencies and through researching web sites and literature.
A few of you have asked me to share the writing process with this series. I find that a little bit difficult to do because there isn't always a major event or reason that determines why I wrote something in a particular way. Sometimes it's just one simple thought or emotion that swings the story in a specific direction. In the above strips, Tamara's situation is beginning to unfold as she tentatively confides to Maeve.
The main reason for the gist of this confession is that I had to find a way to tell readers that Tamara does not have children. And why doesn't she have children? There is a very simple explanation. I couldn't bring myself to write about it. The whole idea was just too upsetting to me and I didn't want to go there.
At Gillian's Place, I was given a brochure that they give to women for creating a safety plan. Here are the check points listed for developing a safety plan for children:
1. Stress the importance of being safe, and that it is not the child's responsibility to make sure that his/her mother is safe.
2. Have your child pick a safe room/place in the house, preferably with a lock on the door and a phone. The first step of any plan is for the children to get out the room where the abuse is occurring.
3. Teach your child how to call for help. It is important that children know they should not use a phone that is in view of the abuser. This puts them at risk. Talk to your children about using a neighbour's phone or a pay phone if they are unable to use a phone at home. If you have a cell phone, teach your children how to use it. Instruct children not to hang up the cell phone to ensure police can locate them.
( I was crying by this point in my reading. What a burden for a child to carry ... )
4. Teach your children about Neighbourhood Block Parents (if available) and how to use them.
5. Teach them how to contact police at the emergency number.
6. Ensure that the children know their full name and address (rural children need to know their Concession and Lot #)
7. Rehearse what your child/children will say when they call for help.
An operator will answer:
"Police, Fire, Ambulance."
Your child says:
Then your child says:
My name is ___________.
I am _____ years old.
I need help. Send the police.
Someone is hurting my mom.
The address here is ___________________.
The phone number here is _______________.