A couple of years ago I was asked by my publisher, Harlequin Books, to write a story based on the life and work of Sandra Ramos. Sandra had been chosen as one of Harlequin’s recipient to receive monies from their More Than Words anthology program. As part of the More Than Words Program, Harlequin pairs bestselling authors up with worthy charities. The authors write fictional stories based on the charity. And the charity receives the proceeds from the sale of the books.
I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the program. And most particularly thrilled to be paired up with Sandra. Sandra’s ‘cause’ is one of my own. Personally my own. Sandra founded the first battered women’s shelter in the United States. She started out housing women in her living room. Thirty years later she has ten houses filled to capacity with battered women and their children. Sandra is filled with the energy and drive and determination of ten ordinary people. And through her work, hundreds of lives have been saved. Hundreds of women have been inspired to reach higher. To hope. To Believe.
I wrote the story. (The Mechanics of Love, More Than Words Volume 5, Harlequin Books, 2009, ISBN 978-0373-83669-7) And I took Sandra’s hope with me as I walked through my own fires.
This fall, as I celebrate the release of a new four book suspense series from Harlequin and MIRA Books, The Chapman Files, I am again partnering with Sandra. In the past year, in a downed economy, Sandra’s women’s shelter, Strengthen Our Sister’s, lost $400,000.00 in donations. She has staff members working without pay as they struggle to pay the mortgages on their homes to keep roofs over the heads of the battered women and children – many of whom will feel forced to return to their batterers if they don’t have housing.
So I’m doing what I can to help. I’ve embarked on a three month blog tour to celebrate the release of The Chapman Files and to raise money for Sandra. (See below for a secure paypal donation link.) We’re hosting a mystery game each month for a prize from each book. We’re giving book giveaways at stops along the tour and we’re collecting names of all commenters for drawings for prizes at the tours end. I’m donating a percentage of my personal proceeds from the sale of The Fourth Victim, Mira Books, December 2010, during the month of December to SOS. We’re hosting book signings in October and November with donation baskets, we’re giving books away for donations. And we’re hosting a skate-a-thon, ,to be held in Phoenix, Arizona on December, 4th, 2010, and also on December 4th, in partnership with the city of Phoenix, we’re hosting a The Fourth Victim launch party bash that’s going to be broadcast live on-line at e-harlequin.
Sandra Ramos will be there with us. Blog tour winners will be announced. Skate winners will be announced. And we’re giving away two hundred free copies of books from The Chapman Files.
Today I need to share with you the story of one of Sandra’s women, as written to me in her own words…
I came to Strengthen Our Sisters with my four small children in 1991 as a victim of domestic abuse. We lived in the shelter for six months. My husband was an alcoholic and a terrible abuser and began stalking me after I left him. Not only did he stalk me in my travels; he was also spotted hiding in the woods behind the shelter grounds on many occasions. Not only was living with him terrifying, being away from him was even more terrifying since I was never sure if he would one day surface and fulfill his promise of killing me because I left. The stalking law was not in effect back in the early nineties, so unless he did something the police could not act.
FYI- Stalking Law
-In 1992, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation which required the U.S. Attorney General, through the National Institute of Justice, to conduct research on the issue of stalking and to develop and distribute among the states a “constitutional and enforceable” model anti-stalking code.
-As of September 1993, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of stalking (anti-stalking) law.
-In October 1993, the final summary report of the Project to Develop a Model Anti-Stalking Code for States was presented to the National Institute of Justice. This was the end product of the 1992 legislation.
-In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the federal stalking law. (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, Public Law 104-201, § 1069.)
With the support of the shelter, I was able to get a restraining order, and gain the strength to enforce the restraining order. In the two years after I left him there were a minimum of 10 separate violations filed because he violated the restraining order many times. With each violation he served months in the county jail. During the months he was jailed my household was calm, my children were happy and I was able to feel like I didn’t have to look over my shoulder each day. But upon each release my heart would again be on edge, my nerves would rattle and my energy would shift. “What is he going to do next?”
I have to say, I would not have been able to survive without the help and support of the shelter. Sandra has been a true inspiration to me. She is unlike many other shelter directors. She accompanied me many times to court and her messages of strength truly inspired me. I began working for the shelter immediately after I moved out. I believe this was my intended path and a way for me to keep connected to the support and empowering messages of the women at the shelter. Through the many years of working with SOS I raised my four children as a single mom, obtained by Bachelors Degree in Social Work and a Masters Degree in Administrative Science. I am currently the Chief of Staff at Strengthen Our Sisters and work in handling many areas of the shelters day to day operations.
Ironically two years after I le
ft my husband he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while crossing the highway intoxicated himself. I have to say I had never felt such a load lifted from my shoulders upon finding out he was dead. He was found dead on the highway with several pictures of me in his wallet, various biblical messages of marriage being forever and how a wife should obey her husband, etc…
Anyway my story goes on …like so many of the other women who have come through our doors.
I can’t say it any better than that.
This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Over the next three months, as we celebrate The Chapman Files, expert witness psychologist, Kelly Chapman and I are going to be asking for help. If you can, join us in our fight against Domestic Abuse. If you’d like to help, click here to go directly to a secure paypal sight. www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VR7WPWDHR6KFS. Or just comment here to show your support.
There’s an item from our new book, The First Wife, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: You can see it at a grocery store check out. Send all guesses to email@example.com. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at www.tarataylorquinn.com. We have correct guesses!!! Keep them coming!
Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at www.eharlequin.com! Tour prize winners will be announced! E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available for pre-order at amzn.to/bmJzp4. Next tour stop: Wednesday, September 29, 2010. Storybroads http://www.storybroads.com. We hope to see you there! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings. For weekly blog tour dates, visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to firstname.lastname@example.org.