Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, who dropped her bid for re-election earlier this year, has posted a courageous statement on her Facebook page. It is a must read from this very courageous legislator who leaves office tomorrow.
Last night, I had a young woman reach out to me wanting to talk about my time in the legislature. She said she was a fan of my career and wanted my advice. It hit me that tomorrow is my last session as a legislator and I can’t help but reflect upon my time in the assembly and the past year in general. It was truly an honor to serve in the legislature and represent the people of the 8th Legislative district. I can’t even begin to explain everything I feel when I think of this experience and all the wonderful people I have met along the way. And then I think of last year… my year of infamy. Honestly, as bad as it may have seemed, 2017 will probably be one the most important and life changing years of my life. I rang in New Years day of 2017 in the hospital. Half of my face was bruised, had abrasions, and a deep cut in my chin and I had abrasions and bruises all over my body. My excuse was I tried to stop a drunk person from driving. However, the reality was that I was in an abusive relationship and it wasn’t the first time this person put their hands on me. I remember sitting in the hospital room feeling completely ashamed and embarrassed. I couldn’t stop thinking “how did I get here?” My friend, Jay Lassiter, sat with me and tried to comfort me as I tried to make sense of it. Thank you to all those tagged in this post for being there for me that day and in the days that followed. Your love and friendship mean everything. Anyway, I didn’t immediately report the incident. I was initially too embarrassed and felt pressure to not say anything. But then how could I look at my children, my daughter, knowing that this happened and didn’t do anything about it? I just kept thinking about my kids, especially my daughter. So I reported the incidents of abuse and he was arrested and charged with assault. While I may have felt empowered in that moment, I was still not ok. While the physical scars were healing, the emotional wounds were revealed. I was having nightmares so I would try not to sleep. I had panic attacks, was irritable and angry, blamed myself constantly, and was just extremely fearful. I was fearful of people knowing, fearful of the person that assaulted me, fearful of being around people in general. I kept telling myself to suck it up and drive on. I kept telling myself to be strong. The problem was, as I tried to be stronger, it just got worse. During this same time, I was being threatened and intimidated in hopes I would withdraw and not pursue the charge against the person that assaulted me. I wasn’t ok and didn’t get help. Instead, I just kept trying to be “strong”. I was trying to keep it all together but was completely unraveling. Then came my finest moment… I want to apologize for my actions and apologize to everyone I hurt and disappointed. I take full responsibility for how I acted. While, there’s a lot more to be said about that incident, I’m grateful it happened. It was a wakeup call to finally get help. It was scary to see how badly the assault had affected my emotional and mental health. What happened to me does not excuse my actions. However, I couldn’t help but think about other people experiencing the aftermath of abuse. The emotional, physical, economic impact from domestic violence is staggering. Below is a link to some statistics. I finally started to get help and didn’t give up on the case against my abuser. On August 24th, my abuser plead guilty to assault. His punishment was a slap on the wrist in my opinion. Although the legislature has made great strides to enact sweeping reforms to address domestic violence, more needs to be done. Bills like A1548, sponsored by Asm Erik Peterson, and A3833, sponsored by Asw Annette Quijano, are just a few that I believe will be impactful in continuing to make much needed change. Additionally, organizations that help victims of domestic violence need your help. Below are two that I have supported but look up domestic violence shelters in your area to support one closest to you.
This is the first time that I am talking about this publicly. Honestly, I’ve had a really hard time opening up about this but right now, someone you know or that I know that is reading this may be getting abused. They may be going through something similar or worse. This can happen to anyone. I hope speaking up encourages you to help others and seek help.
Women Against Abuse