There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you” — Maya Angelou
I kept my abuse a secret.
When I was 22 years old, my ex-husband and I got into an argument, about what I can’t remember. What I do remember is I was over 7 months pregnant with my second son one moment we were arguing and the next I was bouncing off of the bedroom wall sliding down and hitting the floor. My husband had twisted my arms and shoved me hard. This was a move that he’d repeat several times over the next few years.
Surprisingly, my first response was not to check to see if I was hurt, it was to look around to see if he looked sorry or if he still appeared angry; I was ashamed that I had annoyed him enough that he felt compelled to do this to me. I vowed to do better.
I tried to appear courageous, intelligent, a trailblazer to my friends, Mother, and Sister, so my first thought was, I can’t let them find out. What would they think of me if they knew?
Next, I remember thinking, Can I leave? Who can I call? I was sore, was the baby okay? I was too ashamed to tell my friends. I felt very alone. I thought I was responsible. After all, I chose to marry this man, so I decided it was my responsibility to bear the consequences.
I limped to the kitchen. My husband called out for me to knock it off, he told me I was okay and to stop the drama queen act. I got a rag, wet it and placed it on my shoulder. I sat on the couch, and my husband went into the bedroom to get some sleep.
I spent the rest of the night wondering if what had happened was my fault and thinking about why I married this man. My biological father had abused my mother. Did I somehow want to be like her? Did I want this? Had I somehow subconsciously chosen my husband because he’d reminded me of my biological dad?
Why I Stayed: I was afraid! I was ashamed; most of all I felt alone — I was fearful of being judged. What would my family think of me?
Why I Left: I realized that staying was not an option; I knew I had to escape! My mother hadn’t left her abuser in time, and as a result, my sister, brother and I had sustained injuries from his abuse. The abuse we received as children made my husbands abuse seem mild. I couldn’t allow my sons to grow up around this, possibly get injured as I had. So like a prisoner of war, I devised a strategic plan that took several weeks to execute. During that time I was quiet, kind tried to be the perfect wife. Like a mouse in a maze, I waited for the right moment, for the cheese to line up perfectly. When that moment came, I seized the opportunity.
Why I Kept My Silence? I kept my secrets because I was afraid of being judged. My successful career helped me to rationalize and “justify” my silence.
Since 1979 I have been busy being a realtor, property manager, appraiser, assessor, author, and public speaker. Through all of this, I protected my secrets.
Why I Came Out of the Closet. As the elected Yavapai County Assessor I found myself politically bullied by powerful men. I held my ground refusing to break the law. I withstood the political retribution. Finally, I realized by keeping silent I merely helped the abusers. I understood as a child my father abused my mother behind closed doors. Later he abused my brother, sister and I. My husband also had abused me behind the closed doors of our home, and now here I was an elected official, once again being abused, this time politically not physically. Also, I was being threatened all behind closed doors. That’s when I decided I was through remaining silent and allowing these abusers to abuse the taxpayers and me in secret.
“... and then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in the bud, was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin
It is for my daughters Heather and Ashley, my sons Mike and Nicholas and women, girls and boys around the world, that I choose the most powerful form of communications on earth to come out of my closet. I want anyone and everyone who is enduring abuse of any kind to please know — You Are Not Alone!
May we all find the courage to share our stories. Our transparency, our voice, may help to liberate those who are caught in the insidious cycle of violence and abuse. “Each Time a women stands up for herself, without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women” — Maya Angelou
Follow Pam Pearsall on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PamPampearsall
Example of why government never gets smaller
Too often in government, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Sadly, this may have been the case in Yavapai County.
As an elected official who served the people, I was always looking for ways to reduce the size of government while maintaining a high level of service. I had one such plan in my office to combine the separate Mapping and Title Transfer Departments into one department, thus eliminating a redundant supervisorial position. This reform would have saved the county taxpayers almost $70,000, including salary and benefits. That might not sound like much but what if every department in government looked for the same efficiencies and reduced their size, taking less money out of the pockets of taxpayers?
The Assessor’s Office was blessed to have hard working and dedicated employees who know their jobs and perform them well. They do not require the same style of top-down management that had been common in government in the past. Modern management practices should be about giving people the tools and training to do their jobs and not about having someone always looking over their shoulders. This allows people to do their best work and it requires fewer supervisors. That is why I had proposed to reform my office.
The Yavapai Board of Supervisors prevented this reform from ever happening by taking away the mapping responsibility from the Assessor’s Office and creating a new department for the wife of the county manager.
This was a huge mistake and here is why. The primary responsibility of the Assessor’s Office is to locate, list and value property. That includes keeping track of the ownership of your home. If that vital task was turned over to an unelected bureaucrat, who do you hold accountable if there was a problem? When was the last time any bureaucrat was held accountable?
As an elected official I answered directly to the voters at election time and that is how it should be. The transfer and ownership records of real property are too important to our system of free enterprise to allow it to disappear into the morass of the bureaucracy. The founders of our state understood this when they created the constitutional office of Assessor over 100 years ago – they wanted you to have someone to hold accountable and that is why I ran for this position. I had and intended to continue to the do the best possible job for the property owners and taxpayers of Yavapai County.
In a closed meeting they discussed the idea of creating a new department; why didn’t they discuss this in an open meeting? Why not have a study session with all of the departments that would be impacted? When they were finished with their closed meeting they came out in front of the public and voted to create the department effective immediately - why was it so urgent?
Nine months later the Attorney General’s Office let it be known that if this happened it would be a constitutional violation the Board of Supervisors then allowed the department to be returned to my authority.
The back story of the Yavapai County Board of Supervisor’s political retribution - as well as the political pressure leading up to it - to reduce agricultural values and help wealthy friends of the Supervisors can be read in “Whispers of Truth” but it might be enough for you to just know dirty games are indeed played behind closed doors of these elected officials.