Monday, August 16, 2010

Self Defense/Fight Like a Girl

I have been certified to teach self defense classes. Last September I went to New York with my friend Gail to learn how to teach Fight Like a Girl: Rape Escape. This program is unlike any self defense program I have ever seen. It has its roots in martial arts, but don't let that fool you. It is by no means a technique that teaches you how to fight "toe to toe" with an attacker. It is about getting away! Another component we learned is rape avoidance. This is essential for young women to learn. Most girls go off to college with all of the right ideas (be wary of strangers, stay together and in groups, park in well lighted areas, etc.) The problem is those are ideas - in their heads - mixed in with all of the excitement and feelings of independence. No one wants to scare these women into huddling in a corner of a dorm room,, obviously. But until they are actually in a challenging situation, they don't always follow these rules. My instructor, Steve Kardian, told us about an experiment he did for Inside Edition. He approached college freshmen in their cars on campus and asked them to drive him to the security office. Every girl he flagged down allowed him to get into the car and proceeded to drive him to where he needed to go. EVERY GIRL!!!! did this. They did not know him. He is a retired police detective, but was dressed like a student - shorts, ball cap, backpack. He was actually surprised that ALL of them let him in the car.

When I got home from New York I decided to start offering free self defense classes. One of the problems I have run into is that when you offer something for free, people don't seem to realize the value of what they are receiving. There are very few things other than my family, friends, and my spirituality that I really buy into and treat with a passion. Fight Like a Girl is now on that list. I genuinely believe in this program and its ability to prevent tragedy. I am going to Chicago in October to receive another certification training. I love it, and I love teaching, so there is finally something I can do to honor Jenny's memory. And I am going to keep doing it for free and with passion!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jenny's Birthday

Today is Jenny's birthday. It is so hard to believe it has been almost 3 years. Other than the closure to the crime that we recieved from the death penalty verdict, I still find it hard to believe she is gone. I thought after this much time I would be more accepting of that fact. In reality I still have to tell myself she will never be here again - I have to THINK about it - I guess time will help. The violent way she died is still something I think about a lot also. Maybe it is sort of like a car accident - there is no way to say goodbye SO If you have a loved one that is dealing with a terrible disease like cancer or alzheimers - thank God everyday that they are with you as long as it is his will. I may be wrong, but I feel like it would be a little easier if we could have seen this coming. Still devastating and an incredibly cruel loss, but to just be there one minute and gone the next - good grief - that is hard. In a way there was nothing left unsaid - Jenny and I talked on the phone the Friday before she was killed. We were close - I knew she loved me and she knew I loved her. That is not really my point. My whole family knows that "you never know" when that last look, smile , talk, laugh etc will be. Try to remember that with your friends and family.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The trial is over. Ledford received the death penalty. Several people commented throughout the trial that the death penalty would not bring Jenny back. I think that is kind of the point. NOTHING will bring her back to us. We are pleased with the outcome - I just hope my mother lives long enough to see him die. I can't wait until we get close enough to count the days until they put him down. We are all so thankful to the Paulding County District Attorney's Office and sheriff's department. I also really appreciate the brave women who testified against this animal, especially the rape victim that had him put in jail in 1991. She is one of the strongest people I will ever meet. I'm too tired to write more now, but I may revisit this blog later. The following is my Victim Impact Statement - I wrote it over two years ago, then I tried to update it but it kept coming out the same so this is it:
For 54 years there were no words to describe my family. Our bond, joy, love of life and collective sense of humor could not be expressed in words. My nieces and nephews are more like siblings than cousins, and my sister and our brothers were more like best friends that shared the pride of being a Slocumb raised by Christian parents who placed family before everything. Since July of 2006, the words come much easier. We are broken, devastated, lonely, depressed and at times completely empty. I have 4 brothers, 3 sisters in law, a brother in law and 13 nieces and nephews. Our lives have been irrevocably changed. Never in my life have I seen such raw and complete hurt as when I watched each of my brothers come up Jenny's long driveway one at a time after searching for her through the night and embrace my mother. It was one the most horrific things I will ever witness. They came about 5 minutes apart, and the reaction and the scene was identical every time. When one of us is hurt we all hurt - that is just how my family is built. Of course we will keep going, Jenny would have demanded it, but every day is a challenge now. To understand my own loss, it is important to know that Jenny was 15 years old when I was born. She named me, and she took me over. She nurtured me and cared for me just like my mother did. She made me happy when I was sad, and when I got out of line she helped to straighten me out. Our bond was strong. Sometimes I rebelled, but when she left home I cried for weeks. Ultimately, she came home a lot and I always recognized how special the time was when she was at home. Sunday lunches, holidays, birthdays -the family only felt truly complete when she was here to share in the fun and laughter of just being together. We will never have that completeness again. When my father died, Jenny saved me. She spent time in Macon, then when she finally had to leave she called me every day, sometimes more than once. Together we got each other through that terrible time, and a bond I had always felt was incredibly strong became ironclad. Jenny was intelligent, beautiful, talented in art, music and language. She painted incredible pictures and portraits. She taught herself the violin and the hammered dulcimer. She could tear up a piano. She taught herself to knit and was fluent in several languages. And her sense of humor was unmatched. She was in no way ordinary. She lived everyday of her life for Jesus Christ and her family. She was our prayer warrior and our rock. She could have done anything in her life, but she thankfully chose to devote her life to all of us and anyone who she came into contact with that she could help. I have lost my sister, my friend, my second mother, and my family's peace all because of the evil choice one man made. My brother Buster, summed up one of the many ways we will miss her. He noted that her future grandchildren will not know the incredible grandmother that was stolen from them, but we will know that and recognize that loss for the rest of our lives. It is not just that we only hurt individually - we hurt as a whole and we hurt for each other, and this grief will continue. We miss her every day, and we always will.

When I think of Jenny’s place in her community, I immediately think of home schooling.Her leadership and intelligence will be missed by the many parents she counseled on how to effectively implement Home schooling in their children's lives. She was an incredible teacher who felt that traditional education was not the best route for her kids. So she devoted herself to creating an educational program for her own children, but also for anyone interested in improving their children's lives. She was a doer. When she saw an injustice or something she felt could be improved - she took care of it. Her contribution to her community is hard to describe because it was experienced on such a personal level. The people she helped in Cabbage Town or Techwood became her friends. She wasn't fulfilling some goal set up by a committee. She saw a need, and she took care of it on her own. And all of the many other things she did, she did with a heart full of Jesus Christ. Christ lived in her and allowed her to do these things that most people, especially mothers with young and growing children would never think to do. She was a missionary in the best sense of the word. She showed people that were in a bad way, that there was a way out through faith. She lived her life to the fullest using her humor but also her firm Christian beliefs and therefore became an example to those she was helping. The community will truly miss someone who was willing to work for the betterment of others not only because she enjoyed the work, but she did it because she felt it was right. I can't even begin to imagine the numbers of people who won't experience her caring nature and her helping heart, and not through any shortcoming of her own, but because her life was ended too soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Closing Arguments for Sentencing Phase...

Closing arguments will start at 8:00 AM.  The defense maintains that Ledford's alcoholism and abject poverty caused him to have poor impulse control.  Also, a fall from a tree at age 9 gave him a brain injury that affected his frontal lobe which controls his moral judgement.  All I have to say is BOO HOO!  I have no sympathy for him, his family, his lawyers or his expert witnesses.  He showed no remorse for brutalizing Jenny.

The case should go to the jury sometime around lunch time tomorrow.  We have no idea how long this will take.  I'll be posting my victim impact statement on here as soon as I can.  If you haven't heard the phone call between this monster and his 14 year old niece, try to find them on the internet!  He is sick....

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Verdict

Ledford was found guilty today on all 10 charges today.  The jury was out for a little over an hour.  The sentencing phase has already begun.  Five or six women who have been approached in some way by Ledford are being heard first.  It is amazing how deep his depravity goes.  He truly is a predator.  

The family will be giving victim impact statements tomorrow.  I go next to last (for those of you who know me at all, yes I am nervous).  Ma goes last...I am anticipating a nerve-wracking day but at least I can get back in the court room after I read my statement.  Hopefully it won't be too much longer before everyone gets home for good, but until then, sitting through the defense testimony against the death penalty will be tortuous.  

Thank you all for your continuing support...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Home for the Weekend

We are all home for the weekend. Drained doesn't even begin to describe how we are all feeling. Testimony from other victims is particularly hard. We feel their fear and pain in a way. The biggest thing that has come out of the trial so far is that this animal is a predator. He stalks and waits and then attacks. The defense is attempting to blame his alcohol addiction because that relieves him of some responsibility in their minds I guess. There are updates on Atlanta news stations if anyone is interested. Closing arguments are set for Monday at 8:00am. The case will probably go to the jury Monday afternoon. Then we wait for the verdict, and as soon as that is read I believe they will start sentencing (or shortly thereafter). So we have another long haul coming but are relieved to get through this phase. I am not sure how to express how much we appreciate the thoughts and prayers we know are out there. This is by far the hardest thing I have had to get through in my life, and we all feel each other's pain which just compounds the sadness.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two Days In...

We have gotten through two days of testimony.  Big Jimmy, George and Margaret have all testified to basically establish a time line.  Also, Ledford's actions on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 were tracked.  Sitting in the courtroom is at times boring, always tiring, frustrating and sad.  The testimonies of policemen and detectives is repetitious and slow.  I think we should be here for Jenny.  I wish there was something more we could do, but right now, it seems right to represent her in the courtroom.  
Day two was extremely rough.  Crime scene photos were presented.  Once again, it seems like the right thing to sit in the room and acknowledge our anger and sadness.  I'll be glad to get home for the weekend and it's only Tuesday.
Thanks to Will Gaither, Mary Ann Watters and Suzy Voyles for coordinating lunch and dinner for all of us...