‘SOS: Silent No More” video going live Sunday!
It was midmorning, the sun was hot and the day promising, when I spotted a Baskin-Robbins on the street corner. Happy memories of Jamoca Almond Fudge and Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream came flooding back from childhood. It had been years since I’d been there. No time like the present, I thought, pulling into the parking lot.
My iPad and other electronic equipment was inside and I was in Burbank, Calif., so I carefully locked the car and went inside. The next school district I was to visit—where I was dropping off copies of Sister of Silence—could surely wait another ten minutes, I decided.
Making my way to the women’s room, I took care of business and then went to flush. At that very same second, the car keys came tumbling from my purse, which was by then back on my shoulder. I didn’t even realize they had fallen into the water—until I saw something dark disappear down the drain. My heart stopped beating for a split second, because I knew it wasn’t from me.
Now normally when I’m at home and do this kind of thing, I just call my friendly American Automobile Association (AAA) and they save the day. Not that I’ve ever flushed my keys—or anything else that I shouldn’t have, that I can remember—down the commode before. But I’ve locked myself out or locked them in so many times I was once legendary as a result.
However, when I’m in traveling to promote awareness about abuse or market my book, as often happens, I drive a rental car. (Not from Enterprise, though.) This one was a rather nice model, and not flashy at all. But it did come complete with an electronic key fob. (I didn’t choose to have the extra bells and whistles; that was simply the only car they had that did not have a nasty fragrance lingering inside—which would have made me ill, for sure.)
Now for anyone who hasn’t experienced this particular scenario, let me tell you quite bluntly: you don’t want to! Not unless you have a spare amount of cash on hand that isn’t needed to buy such luxuries as, say, food, or return airfare home.
That’s because when you flush your own key, you can choose to get an inexpensive one made, that simply unlocks the doors when you put it into the slot. You can kiss the key fob goodbye and resign yourself to living without it, or you can simply delay getting another one until you have the money to pay for it. But when you’re driving a rental car, from a big chain company, they have a policy. It goes something like this: “Lose the keys—pay us $350.”
They don’t tell you this when you rent the vehicle, of course—or else you would treat them like gold, never letting them hang out of any pocket and perhaps not even leaving your hand. You might even decide to wear them around a body part, like a bracelet or a necklace. (That’s what I’m doing next time. It wouldn’t be as stylish as those worn by actors walking across the Red Carpet at the Oscars, but it would be the most expensive necklace I’ve ever worn, so hey, if it saves me $350, then I’m going for it.)
Because that is at least what it cost me, in the long run, to fix this problem, which I created by opting to use the loo before getting my ice cream. I was stranded in the parking lot for the entire day while trying to figure out the logistics, or see if there might be an alternative. There was, in fact. A nearby car dealer made the new keys and gave me a new fob for just $290. Leaving me enough money to eat for the next few days—I’m not a big eater, especially when I do something stupid like that—but airfare home was a little less certain. So I called in a huge favor and a white knight driving a four-dour sedan came to my rescue, depositing funds into my nearly empty bank account.
By the time I got back on the road, it was after 6 p.m. I know this because the dealership had closed and I was one of the last to leave. Not only had I missed visiting that particular school district (as well as several others, given they were then closed and I was on a tight schedule), I still had about 200 miles to drive—the last 50 of those not being interstate miles. By the time I made it to my friend’s home, it was almost 11 p.m. and I was exhausted.
I fell asleep with the car keys clutched tightly inside my hand.
Books Here, Books There, They Need My Book Everywhere!
Since I was starting my journey in Los Angeles with one speaking engagement and ending it in San Francisco with another, I decided in advance to stop at every agency I could along the way to tell them about my book, which is becoming a useful tool in helping people understand various “touchy” topics that they often don’t like to talk about.
Take grooming, for instance, and I don’t mean the kind you (hopefully) do each and every day in front of the mirror. By the time I finished speaking at the annual Association of Batterers Intervention Programs (ABIP) that Friday, March 1, the headlines were full of stories about this topic. (In fact, some people in the audience said my speech caused them to look differently at the story when they read it that day.) That’s because a 41-year-old Modesto, Calif., teacher had quit his job, left his family and moved in with his former student, who is now 18. (Ironically, my last speaking engagement occurred just an hour or so west of Modesto.)
Upon hearing this, I modified my plan, so I could focus on every school district I could possibly reach between LA and San Fran. Given that recent case, as well as others like it in many other California schools, they obviously needed my book, right? (California is not alone; sadly, this kind of thing goes on all around us.) So that’s what I did, and the response was very gratifying. Sometimes I didn’t get to talk to anyone in the curriculum department, as I wanted, but most of the time, I did. In every instance, everyone was either enthusiastic about being able to read something about a topic they believe is important—such as preventing child abuse—or they were distressed at the fact that teachers aren’t able to teach about this problem in the schools.
As an example, how many students have been taught that it’s natural to have feelings of affection for an authority figure, such as a teacher? How many parents tell their teens before they reach this point that it probably will happen, and then give them the sage advice needed, to not act on it? Equally important, how many classes have you been to where students learned that a teacher “coming on to them,” doing such things as texting them several hours a night, is inappropriate? Where there is actually discussion about what such behavior means, when the teen is quite young and the adult much older? Or what this imbalance of power represents and how it will have lasting repercussions on the teen’s life?
Since many of the administrators I spoke to said quite candidly they are now actively trying to change this, they were most appreciative to receive a copy of Sister of Silence, which breaks down this problem piece by piece while telling my story. It also provides thought-provoking questions in the back for use in a group setting, that are designed to help readers reason on why these things happen and how we can respond differently.
And the response in Modesto was wonderful! The women there I spoke with were so happy to get my book that I left two copies for them. (And wished I had had more time to stay and chat, since they were quite nice.) But I had more books to pass out, more people to see, more places to go.
A Blogging I Will Go, A Blogging I Will Go
Along the way, I also managed to get a piece published in The Huffington Post, thanks to Arianna Huffington herself. (I sent her an email and she said they would “love to have your voice on our site.”) So now I’m blogging for the online publication—when I can find the time, between handing out books and working on other related ventures, one of which involves starting a non-profit to help educate parents and children about these essential topics.
Coming Soon To a YouTube Near You!
Yes, the “Sister of Silence: Silent No More!” video is going to happen. In spite of not meeting our $5,000 goal, as we hoped to do using Peerbackers, we only raised $415 toward the book trailer—all of which went to the actors and videographer. (If you donated or contributed in some other way, thank you very much!) Because everyone involved so generously gave of their time and talent, though, without worrying about what they might get in return, we can still make it available for you.
The month of April focuses on such problems as sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and advocates give them even more attention than usual. So April 1 seemed like the best time to unveil the video. But because the video length has almost doubled, going from its original three minutes to almost six, we’re most likely going to miss that deadline. (Good thing I’m in charge, huh? Kind of hard to fire yourself—especially when you’re working for free.)
But rest assured, the video will be live within a few more days. Thank you so much for your patience! Now please pass the popcorn.
Editor’s note: As of March 29, the video is nearly finished. It will be uploaded and can be viewed on the “Vintage Berry Wine” channel on YouTube Sunday, April 1.
Daleen Berry has expertise in overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment, and can be pretty funny when she wants. She’s an award-winning author, editor and journalist who speaks at conferences around the country. Berry was one of two keynote speakers addressing a national audience at “The Many Faces of Domestic Violence,” the 18th Annual Conference of the Association of Batterers’ Intervention Programs on March 1, 2012, in Anaheim, Calif. She recently spoke to social workers from all over the country at the “Hope for the Future: Ending Domestic Violence in Families” conference at the University of California, Berkeley.
Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read the first chapter free, please go to Goodreads. To see why Foreword Reviews gave it five stars, click here. If you want to read 30 other five-star reviews, check out this title on Amazon. To see a mock up of the SOS t-shirt, check out Berry’s Facebook page.