Tammy’s Walk to aid domestic violence victimsWritten by Betsy Woodruff | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Three years ago, Tammy Bowlin-Macrae was packing her belongings to leave her abusive boyfriend’s apartment. She had called the police said he was keeping her from getting away.
“Go ahead and get your stuff out,” he told her after she made the call, according to Robin Bowlin, Tammy’s sister.
The couple’s relationship had been volatile. Tammy’s boyfriend, Lawrence Jameson, was verbally and emotionally abusive, but Tammy was patient with him.
“She believed he was going to change and gave him every opportunity to do so,” Bowlin said.
“The promises were always there, and the apologies were always there,” she said.
Tammy did not tell her family about the extent of the abuse. They knew the two argued and he threatened to hurt her if she left, but Tammy never mentioned any violence.
But when she turned her back, packing her things, Jameson shot her once in the head and once in the heart.
When the police arrived, he refused to leave the apartment, threatening to bomb it. After a standoff that lasted several hours, they arrested him. He is spending his life in prison.
“Losing a sibling is terrible,” Bowlin said. “But losing one like this is unforgettable. It’s not something that goes away, ever.”
A widespread problem
Lynn Jacquot, the director of the Battered Women’s Shelter at the YWCA, said one-third of American women are targets of domestic violence. Of women murdered by their abusers, about 80 percent are killed while trying to leave.
When women facing domestic violence say they are afraid of leaving their abusers, Jacquot said that fear is usually justified.
“We should never assume that domestic violence survivors don’t want help,” Jacquot said. “We should assume that they don’t know how to do it in a way that would keep them safe.”
Jacquot said victims’ friends should not order them to leave the situation.
“Remember, that’s what he does,” Jacquot said. “He’s telling her what to do, he’s telling her she’s stupid.”
Instead, friends should give them a safe place to call for help, since this is when women are most likely to be killed.
Bowlin and her family started Tammy’s Walk in her memory.
“It’s something so devastating that we made something positive out of it all,” Bowlin said. “I mean, we had to. The grief was tearing our family up.”
At last year’s walk, one woman said after hearing Tammy’s story, she left an abusive relationship. If not for Tammy’s Walk, she said she probably would have been seriously injured or killed.
The annual event raises money for Advocates for Victims and Justice Inc., a nonprofit that helps people escape domestic violence and supports the families of victims, including Tammy’s family.
Tammy’s niece, Lisa Grady, said the organization gave her family invaluable emotional support through the trial of Tammy’s killer.
This year, the walk will take place Aug. 28. Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Walbridge Park gazebo on Broadway Street. The walk is about 2 1/2 miles. Participation is free, but the organizers encourage people to bring donations.
Bowlin said the walk helps fight domestic violence by raising money for the charity and by helping women in abusive relationships find shelter.
Michelle Muñoz, who volunteers for the walk, said the shame many victims face often keeps them from getting help.
“If you’re in this kind of situation, other people have been in this situation, too,” Muñoz said. “It’s not something to be embarrassed about and keep hidden until something tragic happens.”
She added many targets of domestic violence underestimate the danger of their situations.
“It might start out as something small, but it can become something huge very quickly,” she said.
Jacquot said economic challenges often make domestic violence harder to escape since women may have trouble finding new jobs and residences. The economic decline also creates financial challenges for shelters.
Bowlin said Tammy would be proud of the walk.
“To know that her face was posted everywhere, she would just be loving it,” Bowlin said. She said the picture does not adequately depict Tammy.
“It doesn’t do her justice, how pretty she was,” Bowlin said. “She was pretty freaking amazing.”
Once when Bowlin was wearing a T-shirt advertising Tammy’s Walk, a man she did not know came up to her and said he used to be friends with Tammy.
“I knew Tammy very well,” he said. “She made you feel great.”
Bowlin described Tammy as vivacious, caring and “the life of the party.”
“She was always smiling, she was always laughing,” said Muñoz, Bowlin’s niece on the husband’s side. “My mom still says, ‘Aw, I remember when Tammy did this.’”
Toledo-area residents can call the YWCA’s Battered Women’s Shelter any time at (888) 341-7386. The line’s operators can help targets of violence, as well as their friends and family members.
Jacquot said people who want to help can give toiletries, including shampoo, soap and deodorant, to the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter.
“We need to have those things available so we can say to survivors, ‘Don’t worry about that stuff, we have it,’” Jacquot said.
Donations may be dropped off at 1018 Jefferson Ave., at the corner of 11th Street.