Sometimes, one person has to be the voice of many.
This line, directed to prominent journalist and domestic violence survivor Meredith, by her friend and confident Neal, in the Lifetime film, Run For Your Life, is probably my favorite.
In a quaint coffee shop, Neal urges Meredith — still beaming in the afterglow of finally ridding herself of her abusive ex — to go public with her story, to write about her experience in the hope of inspiring others.
It’s the smarter, safer thing to do, she explains to Neal.
Meredith chose silence. But she gave me a voice.
Run For Your Life was inspired by my story, as told in my memoir, Quicksand: One Woman’s Escape From the Husband Who Stalked Her.
I wrote Quicksand 14 years ago — under a pseudonym — while my daughters and I remained in hiding from a sociopath who stalked us for 4 years after we left, and then hired a hit man to kill me.
Becoming and Choosing
While fighting for my life and for the lives of my daughters, I became many things.
I became the — literal — poster child for domestic violence (an image of my face, bloodied and beaten beyond recognition, is displayed in battered women shelters and DA offices under the heading: “Don’t Apply Makeup. Apply the Law. Take the Fight Out of an Abuser by Taking Him to Court.”)
I also became a case study for a failed legal system. Shortly after its publication in 2001, Quicksand became required reading for all members of the Ontario Provincial Police Department, one of North America’s largest deployed police services with more than 6,100 uniformed officers, 2,700 civilian employees and 850 Auxiliary officers.
My voice, my story, though it masqueraded under the ambiguous guise of the quotation marks that protected the identity of its rightful owner — me — became the voice of victims of domestic abuse.
15 years after my daughters and I disappeared and our new lives began, we are choosing to become the champion of survivors. We have fearlessly chosen to go public with our story in support of the world premiere of Run For Your Life and in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
When veteran film producer, Anne Carlucci, contacted me last fall to say that Mariska Hargitay (Founder & President of the Joyful Heart Foundation and star of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit) and Lifetime Network were interested in the film adaptation of Quicksand — Run For Your Life, it would be called — I was taken a bit off-guard.
My daughters and I had moved on to much happier chapters since the final pages of Quicksand ended 14 years ago — did we really want to see the horror of our past relived on our TV screen? Besides, when was the last time we’d had time to sit down and watch a TV movie together since starting KOTAW?
KOTAW was still in its infancy and my daughters and I were happily busy enjoying our success as entrepreneurs — did we really want to add “Lifetime movie heroines” to our newly launched brand?
Ultimately, my daughters and I greenlit the production of Run For Your Life and, even more significant, we bravely chose to take full ownership of our story, rejecting the option to let the movie proceed without acknowledging our connection to it.
Silence is an abuser’s best friend, and my daughters and I no longer accept that role.
My daughters and I agreed to the making of Run For Your Life in large part due its support by Mariska Hargitay and the Joyful Heart Foundation, which vetted the film. We are proud of the fact that the NO MORE PSA Campaign, spearheaded by the Joyful Heart Foundation, partnered with Lifetime to premiere Run For Your Life in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We are delighted that Run For Your Life closes with the celebrity-driven NO MORE PSA 60 second ‘Anthem’ directed by Hargitay with creative direction by Rachel Howald of Young & Rubicam, the firm once led by Stephen Frankfurt, the advertising legend whom I’m proud to say served as my mentor early in my career.
In choosing to go public with our story, my daughters and I passionately hope to accomplish two things: First, it is our aim to dispel the common misconception that strong, confident, successful women are immune from the horrors of domestic violence. And second, our goal is to demonstrate that there is hope beyond scary statistics and that domestic violence survivors can not only survive, but THRIVE!
When my daughters were young and first introduced to the phrase “Shut Up” on the playground, I told them it was just about the worst thing you could say to someone. “Shut Up” took precedence in our home to any four-letter word deemed bad by the rest of society. I wanted my daughters to grow up speaking their minds and to know how powerful words can be — and how devastating it is to be silenced. SO SPEAK UP! What injustice, pet peeve or outrage will YOU not be silent about? Please share your thoughts below and let your voice roar!