Monday, October 22, 2012

The Caged Bird Does Not Sing #domesticviolence

{The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky}—-Maya Angelou

“I know what’s different about you,” I say to my sister on our last walk.

“What?” She smiles with those big pink lips. The kind of lips women envy.

“You don’t need me like you used to. I like that. When do you sign the divorce papers?”

“In a couple weeks,” she says.

She skips ahead of me. Her long brown hair flowing behind her like a kind of freedom.

“I can’t wait to start my own life!” She squeals. “Hurry, get over here and grab my hand.”

We pray right there in the middle of the trail. We pray for transformations and smooth departures.
We pray for still waters and flourishing futures.


My sister never got the chance to sign those divorce papers.
Her soon to be ex-husband murdered her two days after that walk.

We were going to have a surprise shower for her.

An “Emancipation Shower.” A “New Beginnings Shower.”

Candles & Cosmopolitans. Salsa & Sangria. Sushi & Sex and The City.

We were going to fill her new home with love, love, love.

So much love that she would drown inside of it, swallow it whole.

We were going to watch chick flicks until we were chick flicked out.

We talked about painting her living room funky colors like bubblegum pink, lemony lime, or crazy cranberry.

None of that happened.

He left work early on May 26th, 2010
He said he had business to attend to, appointments to keep, phone calls to make.
He sat on the couch like a demon-devil.



He always had a fucking plan.

He was never a man, so I shall call him The Murderer.
After all, that’s what he became in the end.

The Beretta pistol was so minuscule the murderer could conceal easily inside the palm of his hand.

I imagine he rubbed the iron between his fingers anticipating her absence, his absence, his final control.

I imagine he tasted the metal upon his toxic tongue.

I presume he was prepared to go straight to HELL.

My sister came home from work at about 5:00 pm.

She had the same routine every day of the week.  He knew every move, every breath.

She changed from scrubs to walking clothes, hoisted her hair in a high ponytail. She called our dad to meet her on the Waterfront Trail.

“I’ll see you on the trail in five minutes,” she said.

Her last words. Her final beautiful breaths.

And mine.

You see, we were tangled and twisted together as one.

The same blood.  The same heart.

The root of the root.

He had already locked the front door so she couldn’t escape.

Perhaps he uttered a prayer to whomever murderers utter prayers to. Perhaps he gave last rites to himself.

I often wonder why God didn’t intervene. Why He’d allow the cage to remain closed.

There were two options. She stayed with him or she died with him.

He placed the gun to the back of her head as she walked out the door.

And shot once…twice…and a third time.

He had to make damn sure she never gained consciousness, had to make certain she couldn’t fly away.

He then wrapped his arms around her like a poisonous snake and shot himself in the right temple.

I remember asking my husband a few months later, “Did he really kill Kay? Is it true?”

He said, “Yes, it is true.

“Then why am I breathing? Why am I walking? How can my heart still beat?”

People have frequently alleged that a caged bird sings.

I don’t believe it. I’ll never believe it.

The caged bird cannot sing until she is set free; she cannot form a pleasing melody of verse until the cage is swung wide open.

Only then will she sing her sweet song of freedom. Only then will her wings reach the orange of the sun’s rays.

Sometimes in my dreams, I hear my sister singing

I see her hair flowing like a dark water through air.

I call out her name.

“Kay. Kay. Kay.
Where are you? Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?”

“You know where I am.” She whispers softly, slowly…

Like a feather falling.

And I smile.

Because I know she is finally free of him.

Free at last.


Kim Sisto Robinson writes the beautiful, funny, and numinous blog My Inner Chick. In 2010, Kim's sister Kay was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide, leaving their bodies to be discovered by their oldest son. Kay was "only" emotionally and verbally battered by her husband, in the years before he took her life.

If you are working up your courage to leave a physically or emotionally abusive partner, please, seek help to devise a safe "leaving strategy." Don't assume that because s/he has never (yet) hit you, that you are not in danger.

Domestic Violence Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)  TTY- 1-800-787-3224 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1.800.656.HOPE
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence - you will need to opt for English or French

Women's Aid - 0808 2000 247

Australia & New Zealand:
Domestic Violence Information Manual - phone numbers vary by territory

For Male Victims:
Why Men Stay in Abusive Relationships

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