From July, 2009:
My brilliant, beautiful teenage daughter returned from a month-long backpacking trip through Europe yesterday -- the same day that Los Angeles writer Greg Burk and attorney Deborah Drooz were notified that the body of their brilliant, beautiful teenage daughter and only child, Lily Burk, was found in her car in LA's Skid Row area, dead at the hands of a 50 year old man with a violent past who had kidnapped her during an errand she was running for her mother in the Downtown area. As a woman, it is incomprehensible to me that females in our society still need fear for their safety and their lives -- and as a mother, my heart breaks into a million pieces for this family...and I RAGE.
This murder, which took place 15 minutes from my home, has served as a tragic reminder that even now, in 2009, women are still not safe from the violence of either strangers on the street or from domestic violence in their own homes, for that matter. Tragic incidents like this should serve to remind us all that we need to step up our efforts to fight violence against women and girls not only in this country, but all over the world. We need to make this a priority NOW. Women and girls should be able to live their lives without fear -- that is our right.
I write this having been touched by such an incident firsthand. Three summers ago, our then 15 year old daughter was attacked one evening in a public place and, by sheer ferocity -- and lots of luck -- fought her attacker and escaped. I wrote about it after the fact and here is that essay as it was originally published in July of 2006:
One evening this past week, I got a phone call that brought me to my knees. Literally.
The call was from my hilarious and beautiful 15 year old daughter -- who is spending the summer with family friends on our former home, Coronado Island. She was crying and hysterical and I could barely understand what she was saying. When I finally got her to calm down, she told me what had happened not 10 minutes before:
She had been walking with her best girlfriends on the beach at the gorgeous, old Hotel Del Coronado -- the grand, wooden Victorian hotel that is one of the premiere upscale vacation resorts in the country -- when she told her girls that she really, really needed to use the public restroom to pee and that she would catch up with them at the park two blocks away, where they were all headed to meet up with some other friends.
She was separated from them and alone for no more than two or three minutes. In that amount of time, our joyful, hilarious baby was grabbed and dragged and thrown on the ground between two parked cars by a stranger in his late 30's...who very clearly had plans to rape her.
Fortunately, my fierce and tiny Baby Goat had other plans for the gutless bastard who dared lay his hands on her: she did exactly what I had always taught her to do if she was ever grabbed in a public place; all 98 pounds of her kicked and bit and punched and scratched and screamed and gouged and thrashed...until he realized that she wasn't going down without a fight. She was too much trouble. He stood up and threatened her and told her to stay there and wait for him...that he was going to get some of his friends and come back -- and then he took off.
My daughter, who is by far the funniest person I know (and I know some FUNNY motherfuckers, let me tell you), said "FUCK ALL THAT" -- and got herself up and ran screaming for help. That is when she called me.
It was 10:30 at night and we got in the car and flew down the 5 to be with her. By the time we got there, she had already spent an hour and a half being interviewed at the police station and was at home in her jammies. Never in my 19 years as a parent have I ever been so relieved to wrap my arms around one of my babies. As I held her tightly, all I could think about was how lucky we were, how some women, even though they fight back with all their spirit and all their might, do not escape; that night, though horrific, could have ended very, very differently.
The next day a detective from the Coronado Police Department called and asked if my girl would agree to come down and help a sketch artist put together a composite drawing of the suspect because they were releasing the story to the wider media...and then he told me why -- and it chilled me to my fucking soul. It seems that the night before my daughter was attacked, another young woman had actually been raped in the business district of that small, charming, upscale seaside town, which is famous for having almost zero violent crime. The night before.
I called my daughter -- who really just wanted to put the whole thing behind her and move on -- to tell her what had happened to the other young woman and to ask whether she would be willing to help put a face on their possibly mutual attacker -- and perhaps even save other women from the same fate. After discussing the notion of civic responsibility and owing something back to the society in which you live -- as well as the idea that all women need to stand up for each other whenever and wherever they are able -- she readily agreed to do it. The next day, she spent her afternoon dredging up the horror and trauma of precisely that which she really just wanted to forget; piecing together the face of her worst nightmares.
Of my worst nightmares.
In the end, being "too much trouble" certainly saved my daughter from being raped, and quite possibly saved her life -- so that's my new mantra for myself and for all women: Don't be a good girl. Be bold. Be fierce. Don't take the abuse. Don't be afraid to kick some fucking ass. Be too much trouble.
I am so proud of my girl; she is so courageous and mighty and brave -- and not even the lunatic actions of some dickless cocksucker can ever change that.