“Fairytales always start with once upon a time and end with happily ever after. Somewhere in the middle there’s a prince, an evil queen and a distressed maiden, a victim of her own beauty. Gallantly, the prince rides in, saving his true love, proving his manhood and once again restoring balance to the universe. My fairytale, however, was not like that at all. Let’s take for example my ex-husband Ron. In our fairy tale, Ron was no prince. Don’t get me wrong; I truly believe he started off with good intentions. But, then he lost his job, started drinking and I became his personal punching bag. After the third miscarriage I was told I could never have children. At that point, I really didn’t care if I died.
But, on one particular evening back in 1977, something happened that would change my life forever. I came home from the grocery store to find Ron sitting on the front steps of our house with his usual can of beer suctioned to his left hand as if it were an extension of his fingers. I could tell he had been drinking all day and was itching for a fight, so I didn’t even bother asking for help with the groceries. I still had to walk up the steps and past him to get to the front door. I prayed he didn’t attack me until I had at least put the food away. I walked at a slow pace, avoiding eye contact and carefully slinked passed him hoping not to hit the back of him with the screen door as I squeezed through. I made it into the kitchen and managed to at least put away the frozen food, eggs and milk before he threw the first punch.
When it was finally over, I was lying on my back on the front lawn covered in blood. I thought for sure I would be dead any minute, judging from the amount of blood pouring out of my nose and the severity of the pain coursing through my body. But then something happened; I saw out of the corner of my eye a little boy, Patrick, standing in the street staring at Ron as he sat on the front steps drinking his beer and watching me die. Patrick lived in our neighborhood. He stood there holding his baseball glove and ball and just stared at Ron for almost two whole minutes. I wanted to scream for him to run away but no sound would come out of my mouth. Then, as if he heard my thoughts, he turned and ran as fast as he could towards his house. I was happy he was safe, I didn’t want Ron to hurt him and I didn’t want that poor boy to be the witness to my death.
I blacked out again for a while and waited for death to take me. But it never came. Instead, two women from the neighborhood came running towards me and picked me up off the front lawn. I don’t recall much at the time but I do remember some words being exchanged between Priscilla and Ron. I didn’t know Priscilla that well, other than that she was a nurse at the local hospital and that she was Patrick’s mother. He must have run to her for help. I feared Ron might hurt them too, but I couldn’t speak or move. I was a ragdoll, lifeless in their arms as they carried me back to their house. That was the last time I ever saw Ron. I don’t know what happened and I didn’t ask questions. I was just grateful that they found me when they did because not only did they save my life, but they changed the course of it forever.
My name is Camille Waters and a lot has changed since 1977. On the surface I appear as an ordinary southern woman in her 50’s, sitting on a porch swing sipping sweet tea or reading trashy romance novels down by the pier. But much like a fairytale, nothing is ever what it seems. The year is 2014 and I’m not that same woman anymore. Now I work for an underground society of women with one purpose- to right the wrongs of society where the justice system has failed.
If someone in the neighborhood was having a problem, we’d find a way to introduce ourselves; let women know that they weren’t alone. Some folks think we ought to just mind our own business and let the authorities do their job. Well guess what? We did that already. Women have been sitting in silence for centuries, and it sure as hell didn’t get us anywhere. Men beat their wives, girls get date raped, family members molest their young and the burden of proof lies on the shoulders of the victims, every time. Statistics show that women are more likely to leave a bad situation if they have a strong support group to turn too and that’s exactly what we strive to provide. Life is hard enough without having to constantly watch good people get hurt. Some call us modern day Iron Jawed Angels, others call us extremists, but we like to call ourselves, The Butterflies.
It’s time for a change, time to wake-up and smell the revolution; time for us to close the door on the old way of doing things; time to find a system that works for everyone involved. It’s time for the Butterflies Wake.”- Camille Waters