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‘In control of your life’

Little white-haired Birdie Brem stood in front of a crowd of about 70 people at the candlelight vigil for domestic violence awareness in Grass Valley Thursday night and told the story of how her ex-husband shot her, then turned the gun on himself.

He told her she was stupid. He hit her and belittled her, she said. After 20 years of abuse, he had an affair and she finally left.

But he decided he wanted her back.



It’s when she refused him ownership of her mind, body and soul that he tried to kill her.

“Find that inner woman who can do anything she makes up her mind to do,” she told the crowd. “Keep her out there. You’ll be respected for being strong and in control of your life … You will like her.”




The crowd – including domestic violence survivors, recovering addicts, police and public officials – erupted in applause.

Therapist Pat Poggi spoke about her oldest daughter’s murder at the hands of her abuser, and recovering drug addict Bob Rogers relayed memories of abuse from his childhood. He said 80 percent of all addicts suffered abuse as children, and he urged men to break the cycle of domestic violence.

“If someone had spoken up when I was a child, I may not have had to take the path I took,” he said. “Speak out when you see something wrong … Just because it was done by our fathers, does not mean it has to be a way of life today.”

Speaker Molly Fisk read her poem about fear and letting go of fear.

The crowd walked a short loop around downtown Grass Valley, some chanting “Take back the night” and “Break the silence.”

As they walked, Danielle Kinney, 22, and Richard Burris, 45, talked about their experience with domestic violence.

“It touches everybody’s lives,” said Kinney, a resident of Hope House recovery center, who has 90 days clean and sober. “It causes a lot of addiction.”

Motorists honked their horns in support, and the mood was upbeat.

Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson was the master of ceremonies, comparing anger to a “weed that keeps popping up.”

District 2 Supervisor Sue Horne, District Attorney Cliff Newell, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition Director Liz McKay, Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster, Grass Valley Police Capt. Rex Marks, Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis and Nevada County Victim/Witness Assistance Project Coordinator Rod Gillespie also attended.

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To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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