Karyl Chastain

To all Members of WAVE, my friends who are committed to ending violence -

 

How do I tell y'all who I am in a way that will help you understand how

grateful I am that you have all chosen to join with us in this mission to

change the world?

 

To do this, I need to explain that because of WAVE and because of the

recent great tragedy in my life, I feel even stronger about the need to

find a way to stop the wrongs of the world than I did when I joined George

in this mission to create world pleace.

 

Three years ago, if someone had asked me if violence had a direct role in

my life, I would have responded with a firm "No!" Since then, however, my

eyes have been opened and I realize that all lives are affected by

violence, and no-one is immune.

 

The first thing that happened was that one of my dearest friends admitted

to me that her husband had tried to kill her. I then helped her find refuge

in a shelter for battered women in a community about an hour's drive from

ours, because there was no place for her to go nearby.

 

Then, my mother told me that she, too, had lived in a battered women's

shelter in Atlanta when she was married to a man who had nearly killed her.

 

Realizing that my mother and friend could not be unique, I started a move

to get a safe shelter for battered women and their children in my community

by forming an organization called Halcyon Home. Now, two years later, we

have several programs operating to offer services to victims of domestic

violence and sexual assault, and we are on the verge of raising the money

to finally get the facility in operation.

 

From birth, I knew I was born to be a teacher; I have taught fifth grade

now for about 23 years. This personal involvement, however, has helped me

realize that there is a greater mission out there for me somewhere, and I

think it has to do with teaching others the value of a non-violent approach

to life.

 

I felt compelled to join WAVE because I believed so stronly it the mission

it has adopted.

 

Recently, however, on August 7th, 1996, my daughter, Arlyn, age 18,

committed the most violent act possible. She committed suicide; she shot

herself in the head. It was the greatest shock of my life; I had no idea

her life was in turmoil.

 

Here I was, the strongest advocate for ending violence in my community, and

my own daughter turned violently against herself, shattering my life with

hers.

 

After Arlyn died, I learned that a key factor in her downfall was that she

had been date-raped a few years ago. I learned she had felt guilty for the

rape, even feared that she would burn in hell forever for what had

happened, and that this fear and shame had turned inward, starting her on

the road to self-destruction.

 

Because of my child's tragedy, I feel even more compelled to be part of

this wonderful WAVE movement to end violence in the world.

 

Too many people are hurting and suffering needlessly; too many people are

victims who take out their pain on the rest of the world. It seems to me

that violence is escalating at an astounding speed, and that someone must

stop talking about how bad things are and take action, and we are all

remiss if we have the opportunity to help bring about peace and we turn it

down.

 

I am excited about WAVE and its potential. I realize we may fumble and

flounder, but the deep sense of committment I have felt from George, and

the admiration and respect I have for all of you who have become part of

the group, is profound.

 

I wish you all peace.

 

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