Sleeping with the enemy is horrible

Friday, October 28, 2011

Actually, "Sleeping with the Enemy," a thrilling movie that came out 20 years ago starring Julia Roberts, is really pretty good and its plot still rings true this month.

Roberts' character escapes from an abusive relationship with clever preparation, but her husband notices a critical mistake, tracks her down and, well, telling more would ruin the show.

During another show, a woman told me about how the lead singer in a band performing at Goats Music & More saved her from an abusive relationship.

"When I was pregnant, he took me off the street," she said.

As for the father: "He's in the Maury County Jail."

His nickname describes a kind of chicken.

Domestic violence calls are among, if not actually the most dangerous of police calls. Frustrating police is a cycle in the lives of some women who, for reasons I don't know, are attracted to and almost always forgive their abusive man.

Domestic violence also directly affects elderly people and children.

Great strides have been made in the decades since "Sleeping with the Enemy" was released, and 13 months ago, Tennessee's 32 domestic violence shelters participated in a one-day census of victims filing reports and asking for assistance.

As a domestic violence shelter for this region, Haven of Hope, reported this month, the results of the survey are eye-opening.

On that day: 433 victims found emergency shelter or transitional housing; 569 adults and children received counseling or advocacy service; and 68 requests for services were unmet due to lack of services and/or funds.

Haven of Hope has an office in nearby Shelbyville that serves Marshall County. Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Brandon Foster, Judge Lee Russell and other court officers and police deal with domestic violence and know about Haven of Hope.

Throughout the region, there have been displays to remind people about the need and the services. They've been at courthouses and libraries.

The displays include tee shirts in what's called the Clothesline Project. The tee shirts' designs are by survivors of abuse or those who lost a loved one as a result of abuse.

The Clothesline Project started with 31 shirts in Hyannis, Maine, in 1990 through the Cape Cod Women's Agenda. The designs gave a voice to those who'd suffered in silence.

Remarkably, that project started in the year before "Sleeping with the Enemy" went into wide release. The film's story starts in Cape Cod, a rather wealthy area.

Another wealthy area was my news beat 10 years ago when a woman asked city commissioners to help a program dealing with domestic violence. The Nashville suburb's commission declined. As I remember it, two reasons were discussed after the meeting. The budget had been set, so charities already received their appropriations. The other was muffled, but silently understood. They didn't think the problem existed in their town.

Of course that's hogwash.

Even in such a "business-friendly" community, leaders could take a clinically economic point of view. Domestic violence is costing billions of dollars to businesses in lost wages and work.

For those who need help, the Haven's hotline number is 1-800-435-7739. For those with compassion, the number is (931) 728-1133.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.