By Dawne Leiker on July 24, 2009
Late one night, a woman knocked on the door of my grandparents’ farm in desperation. She had been beaten badly, once again, by her husband, and feared for her life and the life of her small child.
According to my mom, my grandfather turned her away, saying something like… “A man has a right to do as he sees fit in his own home… A good neighbor wouldn’t interfere.”
My grandmother pleaded with him to make an exception, to allow the woman to stay at least one night… But Granddad’s “no” was absolute.
My grandmother laid siege to her own battlefield with silence. She didn’t speak to Granddad for months.
Mom never told me what happened to the woman, but in the mid 1930’s, in rural Kansas, the woman’s options for refuge beyond the walls of her neighbor were most likely nonexistent.
Last week, the Obama administration opened a path for asylum for foreign women who are victims of severe domestic abuse. This reverses the stance of the Bush administration which has been central to a legal battle over whether or not abused women can be considered refugees.