One might ask why I wear these around my neck, in particular the anvil charm? It is true if I was younger and out and about, I would wear it on a charm bracelet, but in this time of life, I choose to wear it alongside my necklace medallion. My husband got me the gold medallion which on the other side has a Mourning Dove which symbolizes my bond with my mother who passed away in the 90’s. The words on the back, seen here in the picture, say: “With faith, there is no fear.”
The anvil represents “a victim/survivor of abuse” of any form. Mine represents childhood abuse, not of parenting, but of perpetrators. The details are not for this particular post, but has been documented in writings of the past. I am promoting the wearing of a “charm” which survivors can wear to open up a conversation about abuse with others who might ask or be introduced to the concept. Or, they may just want it as a tangible reminder that they are “overcomers. Mine is from England, ordered online, and has hearts. The “box” opens and inside are two hearts. These represent to me, myself, and the one who helped me recover and become a survivor: my husband who got me the medallion and helped me conceive of the anvil as a emblem for victim/survivors.
The idea happened when I wrote Greyhound Lady Walking. The lead character goes to meet his bride-to-be’s father before their wedding. His idea is to try to initiate a reconciliation between them, if it is possible. He knows it will be a daunting task given what she has told about him. It turned out, he was worse than expected. When my husband learned of this story line he pointed out it would be Biblical to “cast the abuser into the depths of the ocean with an anvil around his neck”. He liked the idea of modern day men having to wear a visible anvil around their necks if they were abusers much like women of old who had to wear the scarlet letter A for adultery. I believe he’s pouting because I “stole his idea” but agrees, it is “good for those, who, like me, get a positive reinforcement from being reminded “I won over the perpetrators.”
As a survivor/victim or if you know one who would benefit, consider going online to find your very own:
If you want the entire background story, it can be found here:
P.O. BOX 1155 IS NO MORE; Oh the stories it could and did tell about the Underground Victim Mail System
Wrong. It is not the post office box, but rather an almost magical space that is safe. A space that allowed high risk victim/survivors to communicate with the assurance they can find a way to be in touch with necessary people, or still pay off debts without being traced. This can mean everything to someone who has gone underground due to domestic violence or rape/sexual assault. They had to abandon every part of their life, possibly, and indeed probably, for life. This is their one “lifeline” and for a high risk underground victim, this is life sustaining.
The Trula Godwin Project was created posthumously in her memory when Police Officer Trula Ann Godwin succumbed to breast cancer after 28 years on the Davenport, Iowa police force. During her time on the force she dedicated herself to serving victims and during her brief, forced retirement due to the cancer, she volunteered working for homeless, domestic violence, and rape/sexual assault victims. www.trulagodwinproject.webs.com
With daughter Amy during her cancer therapy.
Homeland Security went on high alert after 9/11 and there were “good and bad” repercussions. The good, obviously were about the control of terrorism. The bad was that it was necessary to have “blanket coverage” in many of the rules, meaning everyone had to follow them. Suddenly, we who were advocates found we could not help victims open new bank accounts without their social security,proper id; something they could not use without being traced and found. They could not get a P.O.box without proper “i.d.” and this they could not use without being found. They could not get a driver’s license without being found. One victim in desperation, being states away from more than a year, did try to get a license and THE VERY NEXT DAY SHE RECEIVED A CALL FROM THE ABUSER. WHAT TO DO?
These challenges and threats are part of what led me to write 15 novels (Greyhound Lady Walking http://www.joycegodwingrubbs.webs.com ) which involved high level shenanigans and sometime out and out lies, to get around the laws. Every victim/survivor going underground, especially the high-risk ones, could not use any id or social security number they had for at least one full year. It is said by some workers it takes 6 months to get a new identity, but in my experience to do it right and be safe, it would always be one year.
A new box user would only use the 1155 and then it was sent from various locations in the country with a “pass it on-hand it off” routing, always taking the original letter and putting it in a new envelope and using the same 1155 return, it would be sent state to state, until the person designated would mail it to the intended address with no return address. Thus if you wanted someone to think you were in California, the process might go first to New Mexico, then to Wisconsin, and then to California, and from there to the intended. That way no one person knew for sure who sent it from where, or who the sender was. Trust me it is the only safe way,
This system was put in place after an abuser was able to access a child support check copy (front and back) in a federal office after it had been cashed. They then traced the trail to the main bank in our state (halfway across the country) and left a letter in the victim’s family mailbox in her home state. The family sent it to her via the 1155, and when she opened it, on the inside was a note, “We are getting closer.” They enclosed a copy of the back of the cashed child support check. That very night, we borrowed a horse trailer and moved the victim states away. Thus the Underground Mail System began for her sake and over more than a decade has benefited many.
Our Post Office was unaware of the “service” it was providing, and we only listed alias names to receive mail. It was kept in a nearby state so it could not be traced to me. Various trained volunteers assisted me so no one was identified at the box (timed to make that happen.) It got a little tricky at Christmas when folks sent packages, but volunteers were wonderful. This was a 100% volunteer coordination with zero funding. There is no way to be a non-profit and keep victims/survivors safe, as there is no way to hide the information from probing government surveillance and they always “evil, dreaded, inevitable paper trail”.
If you want to learn more about the underground of victim/survivors, and in particular, protecting the high-risk when they are transported, put underground and using the mail system you can. Read about the real cases/voices of the victims written into a creative fiction series in a fictitious network of locations. The stories,cases are true, but to protect confidentiality of victim/survivors, workers, locations they are set in new venues and changed in a way that prevents tracing them.
Once again, real life trumps fiction as some of these stories are stranger and more un-believable than fiction. They were written in collaboration in some part, with Police Officer Trula Godwin, my sister. As for my part, as a 40+ year advocate/counselor of victims and suviviors, and crisis line worker.
My instinct of self-preservation kicks in. “No, no more serious subjects. The next novel will be a comedic relief, though a suspense novel, promised to my granddaughters. I just finished ghost writing a non-fiction biography for a World War II vet and now I need to “relax”.
♪♪♫“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells.” ♫♫♪ The joyous sound of a ten year old’s voice penetrates my conscious mind. I look to see her turned toward me smiling in an evident invitation to join her. I close the email and try to push the message I had just read aside. (Below is the view from our balcony)
In the course of the next hours and in the company of excited grandchildren, I am constantly drawn back to observing the ten year old granddaughter. She will be eleven in April. The same age the author of the email was when she was kidnapped following her 11th birthday party, handcuffed to her friend Jessica, assaulted and left for dead in a Colorado canyon when they were both shot in the bitter cold of the three feet of snow. I shudder more than once and look suspiciously at every passerby who admires my granddaughter’s flashy smile, pixie face, spontaneous laughter and the twinkle of true merriment in her eyes.
As an author who writes about victims and survivors, I know the sad difference. I find myself dwelling on the story that appeared so suddenly, almost brutally on my computer monitor in the midst of this “fantasy Grandma Date Day weekend” with my grandchildren. The request for help from the survivor who wrote me cannot be put aside. I will contact her back with acknowledgement, condolences for her experience, but as of yet … no promises except to help her “find someone who will tell her story for her, and information to prevent her from being sucked into anyone unscrupulous who wants to make money off of her tragedy.”
My granddaughter hugs me and says goodbye at the airport as I board my flight. The gut wrenching awareness of “what is out there” and what can “change in a heart beat” propels me forward as I make notes of all I need to research on this case. I am going home to help this survivor get some measure of justice; a level of justice not available to her in the 70’s. I will share her story if it is the last book I ever write.
The truth is as an advocate/counselor of forty years for victims/survivors I know they, the perpetrators, are out there. What I also know is the number of victim/survivors who never see justice. Again just today, I have heard of another victim since the survivor’s email, and she too never got justice. She was too afraid to “tell“. I feel like a schizophrenic person trapped with voices in my head of those who seek justice and cry out to be vindicated. I am only one person so I will do my part for one victim/survivor at a time. And right now, Annabelle Kindig, that one is you.