by Aaron Burkhalter
At age 9, Pamela Green waited in a grocery store parking lot, watching a house across the street. A few men carried another man — covered in blood — out of the building. A woman followed behind with a machete in her hand.
Green remembers being unfazed by the incident, as if there was nothing unusual about witnessing someone covered in blood being carried out of their home. Green was used to it, and for years violence followed her through her life.
Some years later, Green wants people to see all forms of violence — whether physical or not — as anything but normal. As the founder of the Abundance of Hope Center in Seattle, she envisions a world in which people denormalize violence.
Green has started a series of panel discussions on the many forms of violence we experience, including violence perpetrated through racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, among others.
Green is starting with conversation — meetings with experts having face-to-face conversations to name and recognize the system of violence, from macro to micro.
Green and the Abundance of Hope Center will host DeNormalizing Violence Panel Discussion: Culture on Friday, Oct. 19, at 5 p.m., with ChrisTiana ObeySumner, of the Eleanor Elizabeth Institute for Black Empowerment; Tricia Diamond, King County Airport Program Administrator and founder of Seattle Twerkshop; Stephen Paolini, of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility; and Edd Hampton Parks, a founding member of the Blaq Elephant Party and a former gang member who currently works in road construction.
Once Green learned about the specific characteristics of domestic violence — common red flags of abuse — she realized that she had been in a violent relationship herself.
“America is a domestic violence country,” she said.
But as she continued her work, she began to recognize the many ways that violence behavior pervades our lives, even non-physical forms of violence.
“Violence doesn’t have to be physical,” Green said. “There’s a lot of ways to perpetrate violence without putting your hands on them.”
Families pass violence down through generations, Green said. She experienced it herself witnessing violence within her family as a child and then experiencing physical abuse from her husband, her middle school sweetheart who she married at age 18.
“He literally slapped the blush out of me,” Green said.
Now she watches her own children — she raised 10 daughters and 2 sons — finding another way.
She described watching her daughter with her granddaughter and saw how she was able to disrupt the pattern of violence.
“I love watching her with her daughter,” she said. “She talks with her daughter, she reasons with her, and it works.”
But Green has a lot of work ahead of her, as she’s not simply working to stop domestic violence, but the many ways people disrespect each other, using nonphysical hatred and bullying.
The culture of violence pervades all things, her daughter Salenna Green said. Salenna is Abundance of Hope’s Programs Coordinator.
“Violence is so deeply ingrained in our culture,” she said. “I don’t even know where to begin.”
Taking violence from normal to not normal takes time. Even their chosen word, “denormalizing,” gets that red squiggly line underneath it when they type it into a computer, Salenna said; it’s not even a word yet.
Featured Photo Courtesy Abundance of Hope