Gramma Ema’s walk

Mother of victims of domestic violence walks to raise awareness

Woman in tennis shoes on roadside with two large signs, as car passes by her.

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Ema Thompson walks in honor of her daughters, victims of domestic violence.

WINDOW ROCK

The sky was gray and overcast, on the verge of sprinkling, as Ema Thompson, 59, walked alongside State Highway 264 on her solo march to the Navajo Nation Council Chambers in Window Rock on Oct. 19 to raise awareness about the epidemic of domestic violence.

The day before, she started her march in Gallup and stopped at the Speedy’s gas station outside Tse Bonito, New Mexico. The next day she picked up where she left off and continued walking despite the cold, rainy weather.

Thompson wore a sign telling the story of her daughter, Patricia “Trish” Dawes, who she said lost her life to domestic violence three months ago. “I try to tell myself every day, at least she’s not in pain,” Thompson, who is from Noble Acres, New Mexico, said. “Or she’s not screaming for help today.”

The sign she wore, and continues to wear on her marches, said “Trish, please forgive me, my daughter. We didn’t do enough to keep you alive and healthy.”

“My daughter was killed three months ago from internal injuries,” Thompson said as her voice trembled and tears began to well in her eyes. “I have a daughter that survived three weeks ago. It has to stop.”

Her other daughter, whose name she did not reveal, recently survived an attack by her partner, Jeffrey Hemming. The assault was so severe Thompson’s daughter was admitted to the hospital. A criminal complaint was issued on Sept. 30 and Hemming had his first court appearance on Oct. 2 when he was charged with aggravated battery on a household member in the Albuquerque Metropolitan Court, according to state records.

“If you have a relationship like that, one of you has to say, ‘I don’t want this kind of life,’” Thompson, who is Bitahnii born for Tsenabahilnii, said.


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Pauly Denetclaw

Pauly Denetclaw is Meadow People born for Towering House People. She was raised in Manuelito and Naschitti, New Mexico. She was the co-recipient of the Native American Journalist Association’s 2016 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting. Denetclaw is currently finishing her degree in multimedia journalism from the University of New Mexico – Main. Denetclaw covers a range of topics including genetic research, education, health, social justice issues and small businesses. She loves coffee, writing and being with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her handle is @pdineclah