Play provides window into domestic abuse

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Anna is dead. She wasn't killed by a drunk driver, she wasn't killed by a terrorist and she wasn't killed by power point briefings.

Anna was the narrator during last week's sobering "Yellow Dress" performances, and was killed by her abusive boyfriend as a result of domestic violence. The one-woman monologue was a key element of Friday's Wingman Day, helping raise awareness among base Airmen about the serious issue of domestic violence.

Anna's speech was a little shaky and nervous as she talked about her relationship with her boyfriend, Ricky. She began with how sweet and caring Ricky was at first. Then, as she continued, Ricky's frequent verbal taunts gave the audience warning signs of impending physical abuse.

As the story progressed, she became more and more isolated from her friends. Her only concern became keeping Ricky happy. Finally, after a particularly bad beating, she decided to break up with him. When he tried to get her back, she refused. This led to the fatal beating that ended both their relationship and her life.

When Anna, who we now know to be a ghost, describes the last scene, she comes out wearing a blood-stained yellow dress. This title element is a graphic reminder of the reality of domestic violence.

As an audience member, I found myself both repelled by the ugliness of the story and attracted to the importance of its message.

Domestic violence, according to a panel discussion following the play, continues to be a problem both within and outside the military. The solution is based on the entire concept of "Wingman Day" - watching out for one another, and intervening when necessary.

I hope those who watched learned that lesson. The world doesn't need any more Annas.