I will never forget the day — as a 6-year-old watching “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for the first time — when Dumbledore said to Neville Longbottom:
“There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
The young boy stood up to Harry Potter and his friends Ron and Hermione when he knew they were breaking the rules and it would hurt the Gryffindor house. They left him lying on the floor bound by an Immobulus spell. But still.
That moment in the Hogwarts Great Hall, as the children clapped and cheered for Neville, has stayed with me and still makes me cry. I think of it when I face what feels like impossible situations with people whom I love and respect. Setting boundaries or calling out bad behavior is difficult, especially when it is someone who means the world to you.
And it’s what came to mind after listening to the survivor testify in the case against Ira Cartwright.
There are a lot of things I can’t include in stories that I wish I could; more often than not it is something that wouldn’t be fair in the story at present. The bravery of that woman who spoke against her abuser is one of those things.
The way Cartwright brutally assaulted this woman is something nobody should ever have to experience. And while that would have been horrible if committed by a stranger or an enemy, he was her partner. He was the father of one of her children and acted as a father for the other. They still ask about him and want a relationship, she said.
I think about the safety and comfort I have with my partner, and the thought of having that relationship destroyed by such an evil act makes me sick to my stomach.
The fact that she stood up and walked out of the trailer is brave. The fact that she called the police and asked for help is brave. The fact that she then subjected herself to potential revictimization at every turn is brave.
Can you imagine sitting in front of a room of strangers and your abuser, telling them about what could have been the worst day of your life, asking them to believe your word against his? Can you imagine facing down an attorney who is looking for any holes in your story to hold against you?
This woman showed unprecedented bravery in the face of insurmountable odds.
We applaud you.