Why aren’t we supporting women the way we need to?

April 2016

Charlotte Five

April 14, 2016

In my daily existence, I see continual shows of women being supported. I see Maureen O'Boyle's petition against her rapist earn more than 69,400 signatures. I see Corri Smith and Amy Herman grow their co-ed #InstabeerupCLT meetup each month -- with hundreds of people flowing into a brewery to network and make their idea to connect people in real life a reality.

I see my financial adviser friend help my event-planning friend with a budget, my doctor friend dole out medical advice to my nonprofit-based friend. I bump into a bunch of my yoga friends at the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage "Women for Courage Luncheon" on April 13 and realize we're all there to support the same woman, who's a table sponsor.

But the hour and a half I spend there with my friends makes me realize how good we, on the whole, can be at supporting women in this city in business and life. But how we're leaving out one huge part: on the whole, we're not supporting women who are victims of domestic violence. Why? Probably because we don't realize we need to.

It was hard to hear three close friends of Jamie, daughter of Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble, admit that. Sharon Roland was in the same sorority as Jamie at UNC Chapel Hill. During the seven-year relationship that unfolded, she watched Jamie's boyfriend lavish her with over-the-top gifts and trips. She chalked up public arguments to typical relationship drama -- without understanding the control and manipulation in the background.
"I had no idea his behavior was an enormous warning sign," she said.

Jamie was shot to death by that boyfriend in 2012 in an eruption of domestic violence, three months after she left him. "The guilt that I didn't do more to protect and save her was too much to bear," Roland said.

Sharon Roland, Holland Pulley and Carol Douglas
Sharon Roland, Holland Pulley and Carol Douglas
Carol Douglas, another friend of Jamie's, thought her boyfriend was even funny and enjoyable to be around when she met him. She started to dislike him over the years as circumstances arose, like him accusing Jamie of flirting with servers just for thanking them.

But at the time, she associated domestic violence with physical abuse, in most cases toward women who were uneducated, underprivileged and lacking a support system. "I could not have been more wrong," she said.

Holland Pulley was part of a large group of friends that included Jamie and her boyfriend. "I witnessed firsthand the behaviors that I so desperately wish I knew at the time were actually warning signs of an abusive relationship," she said.

He'd call and text until she responded. He'd have temper flare ups.

"I had numerous conversations with Jamie about her relationship," Pulley said. "But unfortunately I never mentioned domestic violence. Why? Because I didn't know that's what it was."

Clearly these friends are not alone. Not if statistics like these exist:

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It all starts with reading the warning signs.

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Pass it on.

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