My mind boggles at America’s tolerance of domestic violence and domestic abuse. What will it take to end the atrocities behind the statistics that tell us that every 9 seconds a woman is attacked by her partner?

Every 9 seconds a woman in America is slapped, strangled, punched with a fist, attacked with an object, her arm twisted, her personal items destroyed. Every 9 seconds a woman in America is emotionally devalued through verbal abuse, threatened with physical harm, isolated from her friends and family, questioned about her activities, or made the object of intense jealousy. Every 9 seconds a woman is made the recipient of unwanted touching or forced sex.

At what point will women finally “just say no” to the violence witnessed daily by three million of our children who are likely to grow up and repeat this grievous cycle?

I am a 45-year-old woman of color whose mother grew up with domestic abuse, whose grandmother grew up with domestic abuse, whose great grandmother grew up with domestic abuse, whose great-great grandmother grew up with domestic abuse, and whose great-great-great grandmother was a product of slavery.

Having this hideous legacy as a component my own history, I call for these acts of violence against women and children to be treated as the atrocities they are: HATE CRIMES. I propose that we redefine the second class citizenship and abuse of women in the home as DOMESTIC SLAVERY. In addition, I propose redefining any economic environment that tolerates inequitable compensation for women as one that perpetuates INSTITUTIONALIZED SLAVERY.

At what point will we as women say, “Enough is enough!” I am absolutely baffled that despite the economic power of women in America, we haven’t chosen to use this virtue to end our immoral plight. Imagine women as a unified culture abstaining from shopping every Saturday and Sunday until the hate crimes perpetuated against us and our offspring are stopped. Or imagine if we gathered on the courthouse lawns across America and burned our credit cards, depicting our statement of unity and our commitment to ending domestic violence and abuse.

There has to be a reimaging of the symbolic portrayal of women in America. This is not a foreign concept. We have to remember and hail the birth of Rosie the Riveter versus June Cleaver in her apron and pearls. We must raise from the ashes woman as Mother Earth! We must unshackle the “I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR” diva of ourselves and embrace an equally powerful subculture that can stand toe to toe with the “good ol’ boys.” Nancy Sinatra’s THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING imagery must shatter and stomp out the oppressively imposed glass ceiling that thwarts and limits a woman’s hard-earned pay.

Imagine if we revisited the concept of the Million Woman March and instead had a million women enroll in self-defense classes on the same day at the same hour. Imagine a huge clock in every major or even small city in America that rang every 9 seconds each Sunday during October, our “allotted” domestic abuse awareness month.

This is an allotment of time that personally presents me with misgivings, as it seems an attempt to placate an unknowing child. In actuality, it is a minimalization of an issue, similar to the demeaning of the African American culture by allotting us February (the shortest month of the year) as Black History Month. I’m really not sure that this is what Coretta Scott King’s husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had in mind as he preached for equality and marched against social injustice for all people, which includes women.

But if we as suffering women must be confined to 31 days, let us make the most of this allotment. Let us use them in such a way that it colors, overshadows, bleeds into the other 334 days of the year!

My sistahs, can’t you imagine the racket of a bell tolling every 9 seconds, a bell ringing 6 and 1/2 times every minute, going off 195 times every half hour, 390 times per hour? Imagine the racket, the noise, the insanity.

I conclude that it is pure insanity that we, as women, tolerate the abuse of ourselves and those we have given birth to. We must unite as car-pooling, breast-feeding, colic-soothing, tax-paying divas, millennium mamas, and ladies of political savvy. We must unite, and not just chant that we are as mad as hell and not taking it anymore. We must unite and JUST STOP TAKING IT!!!

(Sistah Pace’s bio: I am a mother of two daughters, ages 15 and 6. It is my goal to stop the cycle of abuse within my family during my lifetime. It is my goal to share my experiences concerning domestic violence in the effort to encourage women to save themselves and their loved ones from this horrific lifestyle. I welcome and use every opportunity I get to share my ghetto tales, children’s stories, poetry, and essays in order to build a stronger advocacy program on behalf of women and children who are subject to the horrendous hate crime of domestic violence.)