Grandmother makes 'Saving Promise' to help end domestic abuse

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Leaders from Harvard, Facebook, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and others gathered around a table to listen to the words of a grandmother.

her name is L.Y. Marlowe and she's using her story of generational domestic abuse to make sure it never happens in her family again -- or yours.

It's a big mission, but she has an ally in Harvard University, where scientists are looking at domestic violence as a public health crisis and they want to figure out the most effective way to stop it.

"I remember glimpses of the blood. I remember glimpses of the scars. I remember the screams," Marlowe said.
Her mother had been the victim of domestic violence; so had her grandmother.

She would go on to be the victim of domestic violence and so would her daughter.

“She said 'mom, he's going to kill me.’ That was the first time I knew that she was in this very abusive relationship,” Marlowe explained.

As a mother, it was a revelation she could hardly bear.

“My heart shattered for so many reasons. One of the reasons was: ‘I can't believe that this is happening again,’” said Marlowe.

It was august of 2007 when Marlowe learned her daughter had almost died at the hands of her abuser.

“He had been beating her all day,” said Marlowe.

Her daughter was slipping in and out of consciousness. Marlowe’s granddaughter, a toddler, was nearby. Her name is Promise.

“As she was blacking out, she suddenly heard Promise screaming,” Marlowe said.

That cry stirred something and Marlowe’s daughter fought back. It was then that L.Y. Marlowe decided she needed to save promise from the cycle of abuse.

It was then that Saving Promise was born.

“Five generations of domestic violence is not unusual,” Dean Michelle Williams, with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said.

They've just formed a partnership with Marlowe to figure out the best way to prevent domestic violence.

To do it, they'll study domestic violence data, look at effective solutions and partner with businesses and schools to educate the public.

“Making it very unpopular to use physical violence or emotional violence against another human being,” Williams said.

She said Marlowe’s power comes from her personal story. And Marlowe hopes that by partnering with Harvard, that story will have a different ending for her granddaughter and others.

You can find more information about Saving Promise here.

You can also find resources, a hotline, shelters and groups that offer help in your area, if you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic abuse here.

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