‘The Harriet Cammock Show’ shines glaring light on domestic, sexual violence

Harriet Cammock
Harriet Cammock

“What we do is we forget the trauma on children. We forget what it feels like. I was sexually violated when I was six years old by a family member who my family trusted. He was my grandfather. My stepfather’s father. Of course they trusted him. Of course they trusted me to leave with him. Whoever thought? Right? So my grandmother tells me that when it happened, nobody in the family wanted to acknowledge it. No one wanted to deal with it. So they thought I was just a child making noise. But look what it did to me. It shaped me, because it affected the way that I made choices later on. … It affected my sexual relationship with men. For many years sex was trauma until I went to therapy. …This is what happens when sexual violence takes place against children. It just doesn’t go away.” — Harriett Cammock

Unlike many survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence, Harriett Cammock doesn’t mind sharing her stories, chilling though they may be. As a matter of fact, when listening to her recount some of the horrific things she experienced as a child, and then later as the very young wife of an abusive husband with whom she remained married for 13 years, you get the sense that it is in the retelling of these stories to anyone who will honestly listen that Cammock is able to continually heal her own wounds. But equally as important, and perhaps even more so, is that Cammock has made it her life’s work to reach out to other women who are either currently experiencing similar circumstances to her own, or who are still trying to recover.

Her radio program, The Harriet Cammock Show, airs not only throughout metro Detroit on 1440 AM but on 1320 AM in Cincinnati, and in Covington, Kentucky as well. It is designed to stimulate the kinds of conversations she believes are necessary to help the community confront some of its darkest secrets, the ones we prefer to hide where we hope no one will find them – or ask about them. She got her start in 2009 in Walled Lake on 1460 AM, then made the decision to move back to Detroit in 2014.

She is also the President of Harriet Cammock Ministries and Executive Director of The Exodus Foundation, whose mission it is to provide an exodus for all people from violence, poverty, homelessness and lack of educational opportunities. Cammock is the recipient of The Phoenix Award for Advocacy Against Violence, and The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 2011 National Women’s History Project Award for Bravery and Tenacity.

“It’s something that is underreported. It’s kind of like America’s hidden tragedy. We don’t talk about sexualized violence. We don’t talk about when Daddy sneaks up into his daughter’s room at night,” she said.

And when dealing with issues of domestic abuse, Cammock says that it can be particularly difficult for the African American community to come to grips with these sorts of issues.

“We don’t talk about it because we’re ashamed and we’re afraid to confront it.”

But confronting the knotted nest of ugly truths comprising what far too many women in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, and throughout the country – or even the world – is the only way to expose them, drag them into the light, and thus bring them under control.

“The Uniform Crime Reporting database says that 94 percent of the women in this country who are murdered are murdered by men. Eighty-two percent of women who are murdered are murdered by intimate partners. And 75 percent of women who exit a violent relationship are killed within 18 months to two years. I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t get killed,” she said.

“Did you know that one in four girls and one in six boys will be raped by the time they’re 18? And this is done by family members. This is not done by strangers. … Broken children become broken adults. We’re starting to see a pattern of brokenness.”

Not content to only carry the discussion on her radio show, Cammock is also a frequent blogger and author who discusses relationships with her followers, as well as how violence can impact those relationships. In her book, “Through the fire,” the Jamaica native discusses her own experiences as an abused spouse to help others.

“My main focus is to end violence against women and girls,” she said.

A related concern of Cammock’s is the issue of human trafficking, which she says is a very serious problem in Southeastern Michigan due to our proximity to the Canadian border. Cammock, who cites the Crime Reporting database as well as Department of Justice statistics as her primary sources of information, says that women and children are routinely delivered across the border and then distributed throughout the region and beyond.

“Here in Southeastern Michigan and in Detroit we’re known as a ‘ring city’, which is a hotspot for human trafficking that is going on. Southfield is considered a ring city for Oakland County. ..Ring City means ‘entry point. …Southfield Road is a major trafficking route,’” she said.”

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