Rep. Day and Sen. Eldridge belittle our stories as victims

Survivors of abuse say rejection of dangerousness bill felt like punch in face

A “WELL-CRAFTED public relations tour?”

For over eight months, more than a dozen survivors have gathered the courage to tell the public how we survived being beaten, threatened, and harassed by the abusers in our lives, and how those horrible crimes could have been prevented had legislation like the Baker-Polito administration’s dangerousness bill been law at the time. We were brave. We were strong. And we became activists, speaking up for change in a system that has silenced us.  

But according to the chairmen of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Rep. Mike Day and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, we are none of those things. We are just props in a show. Day suggested that our show of courage was nothing more than a “well-crafted public relations tour,” while Eldridge called it part of a “pretty consistent PR campaign.”  

When the two men responsible for killing the governor’s legislation finally had to explain why they chose perpetrators’ freedom over survivors’ safety, they revealed that we just didn’t matter to them, and that they either don’t believe us or they don’t take us seriously. They tried to make us out to be nothing more than just a means to an end.  

However, Chairman Day and Chairman Eldridge are wrong, and their attempts to belittle us and our decision to stop being silent are deeply insulting. To objectify our efforts to close these loopholes in Massachusetts law that made us easy prey for our abusers feels, for many of us, like another punch to the face. 

Several months ago, we formed a coalition of survivors – men and women from across the Commonwealth – to work together toward a shared goal: pass Gov. Charlie Baker’s dangerousness proposal. For months, we have stepped forward to share our stories in a public forum, many of us doing so for the very first time. Many of us risked our lives and the safety of our families. But we were willing to do this because we believe so strongly in the protections that this bill would provide not just each of us, but future survivors and children, for whom current law does not provide adequate protections. 

Since this bill was filed for the third time in December 2021, we have embarked on a grueling and difficult journey to advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond for the administration’s legislation. We have testified publicly before the Judiciary Committee. We have participated in regional roundtable discussions with Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy, and advocates to share how the legislation could have made a difference in our cases.

We have allowed our most vulnerable and painful moments to be shared with anyone willing to listen so the next person wouldn’t have to endure the same trauma we did. We also wrote to and met with our local legislators and legislative leaders to implore their support of the legislation.  

Thankfully, many legislators in the House and Senate, both Democrat and Republican, welcomed us. Many members of the Judiciary Committee itself voted against shelving our legislation, including prominent Democrats, and we are deeply grateful for their support.   

Sadly, some of our letters and meeting requests went unanswered. None of us are professional lobbyists, so we expected a few doors to get closed on us. But what we aren’t ready to accept is having our activism and our trauma minimized as a political stunt by two men who have never had to worry if their abuser was coming back for them.  

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Survivors of Abuse

Survivors, Domestic abusesuri
Despite Day’s and  Eldridge’s political spin, and their attempt to brush aside our experiences, this legislation still gives judges the final say on who would be held safely away from their victim while awaiting trial. The bill would close loopholes so that violent offenders and abusers do not have more rights than the men, women, and children they brutally, and repeatedly, traumatize. To deliver peace of mind and allow survivors to breathe, knowing that their abuser who cut off their court-ordered GPS monitoring device will be held accountable. To ensure innocent children, whose sexual assaults at the hands of adults were not considered forceful or dangerous enough under the current law, would not have to face their abusers on the street.   

Is that too much to ask for?   

We don’t think so, and we will not stop speaking up. Shame on the chairmen for belittling our trauma and discounting our horrific, lived experience. We will not be silenced, and our “well-crafted public relations tour” will continue until we have the justice and protection we deserve – in spite of Day and Eldridge.

This commentary was provided to CommonWealth by Gov. Charlie Baker’s office and signed by Jo, Tara C., Bob D., Danielle, Tia M., Kristine M., Mark S., Jennifer Eagan, Michael Bates, Carla P., Sofia P., E. King, Liana W., Debra W., Michelle Linn, Jordan, Kelsey E. Pickett, Kate M., and Jimmy Bates,