Having grieved the violent deaths of both her sister and niece over the past 25 years, Sheila Hightower White and her family founded “Her Cries Are Heard” last November. The group’s goal is to help prevent violence – partnering with police, meeting with the public, and providing tools and information that will help stop more females from becoming victims.
To help promote its mission, the group organized an informational rally in Detroit’s Roosevelt Park on August 6. Around 100 people were on hand, despite the fact that there were numerous other events going on across the city that day. “Her Cries Are Heard” has been hard at work ever since.
“We’ve been visiting organizations, going to meetings, and passing out kits containing literature and warning whistles,” says Hightower White. “We’re also telling our stories, because as the living victims we know how murder affects generations.”
Hightower White’s sister, Phoebe Hightower, was murdered by her husband in 1991. Tragedy struck again on Mother’s day of 2013, when her niece, Stacey Hightower, was killed by a man who had followed her home from a party. Both women were stabbed to death, and both were only 32.
“When a loved one is murdered it has a ripple effect on the entire family and friends,” says Hightower White. “We become the living victims, daily trying to cope with the shock and grief.”
The website www.hercriesareheard.org provides a wealth of information, including a comprehensive guide on how females can protect themselves. The guide is highly detailed, but here is a very brief summary of its points:
Stop Being Secretive Always inform at least two people where you’re going and who you’re meeting with.
Buddy System Provide at least two family members or friends with your cell phone contacts. If you’re living alone, establish a contact, someone you can call every night to check in.
Online If you’re getting together with someone you’ve met online, text a friend or family member all the details.
Devices Employ common-sense safety measures such as a home alarm and a cell phone with a GPS system. Join a self defense class.
While Out and About Always exercise caution, remembering that someone could be watching you. Be prepared to take evasive action or defend yourself.
Attending an Event or Party Remember that if a predator sees you coming in alone, you become a target. Be wary, not too trusting – and never go back to your car alone.
Community People need to watch out for each other – and call 911 right away if they hear a scream or gunshot. Relatives and friends need to speak up, and so do potential victims.
The last has particular meaning for Hightower White.
“After my sister was murdered,” she says,” we found out from neighbors that her husband had been committing violence against her for some time.” She also says that before her niece left the party from which she was followed by the fellow guest who murdered her, some people saw him waiting in his car.
The website also contains additional information on domestic violence, a list of contact numbers for prevention, help and resources, and the stories of both Stacey and Phoebe Hightower.
How Can You Help?
The group is looking for funding so it can continue its work of printing literature, purchasing whistles and other prevention tools, and attending meetings and events to further the cause.
The group is a 501(c)(3) charity, and 100 percent of all donations go to its work.
And it is work that must continue, says Hightower White, noting that since the rally in August, 13 more females have been murdered in the Detroit Metro Area.
“If we can save just one person,” she says,” my sister and niece will not have died in vain.”
Visit the website at www.hercriesareheard.org