Posted by: joshjasper | April 28, 2009

The Outlaw Jesse James

No, the title does not refer to the legendary figure of the Wild West, nor does it refer to the guy that is the CEO of the West Coast Choppers.  I am talking about the real outlaw, the dean of admissions at the University of Dubuque, Jesse James.

The dictionary defines the word “outlaw” as one that is rebellious or unconventional.  I had the privilege of attending an event this afternoon at the University of Dubuque in which Mr. James spoke publicly for the first time about his personal experience with domestic violence.  You see, Jesse’s daughter was murdered last year by her husband.  Jesse shared his very personal story with a classroom filled with students, professors, and service providers.   This story included the love he has for his daughter that was taken away from him by the hands of a man that played out the tired, age-old story of a man exercising power and control in a relationship, and when that power was threatened, he took another person’s life.  This man shot Jesse’s daughter, dismembered her, and burned her remains in a shallow grave.

Jesse is an outlaw not because he spoke about his experience, but rather, he is a true outlaw because he is a man speaking out against the pervasive violence that exists against women and children, when so many men do not.

I was truly inspired by his presentation today.  I got to thinking how it really can take just one person standing up and questioning the norm to begin the change that we all so desperately need.  One of the points made today was that the man that inflicted this enormous amount of pain and suffereing to so many has a father, a brother, and many male friends, including the peers he had from being in the Marine Corps.  But yet, as the warning signs surfaced (physcial and emotional abuse, isolation, and acts of controlling and possessing spouse), not one of those men in this guy’s life spoke out….not one!  If only someone would have questioned the status quo.  Had one man had the strength and courage to challenge the behaviors that so many of us know to be wrong, Jesse’s daughter may still be with us today.

Thank you Jesse James for your incredible strength.  You are a role model for us all.

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