"Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars.
It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return.
It is estimated that approximately 3 million incidents
of domestic violence are reported each year in the United States."
It feels very weird to be concentrating on a season that is supposed to be all about peace and joy and goodwill toward men when so many women and children are suffering from all kinds of abuse the world over. I don't know the numbers, or the statistics. I'm not even sure the exact definition of abuse - domestic or otherwise. But today I sat with a woman and listened as she cried out her painful story.
In the three years that she's lived with a man he has beaten her down to a place that she no longer knows her own truth. At one point I interrupted her story to ask if he'd hit her. She told me no, but I kind of wonder if that is the truth. But then why would he need to use anything other than his words? They did as much to hurt her and didn't leave any marks on the outside. No her wounds are internal.
I asked her to promise me that she would not go back. She couldn't do it. Even as she talked to me she kept one ear peeled for his phone call.
I asked her to let me take her to a woman's center right around the corner. She said no.
I asked her if she would see a doctor because of her depression. She refused.
But she said it would be okay to share her story with the one person I felt might get through to her- my Sweetie. He pulled up a chair, faced her straight on and let her talk/cry/rage/and cry some more. He got out of her that she has a plan of sorts - to move to New York. He was able to get her to talk about herself. I won't go so far as to say she could do it in a positive way, but we could see the dim spark of her spirit emerge for just a moment or two. It's there, we just have to keep fanning the flames and keep it burning.
Eventually she talked herself out. I held her in my arms and her breathing calmed a bit. I convinced her to eat something. Then she left for work. I don't know if or when I'll hear from her again.
After she left I felt sad. My spirit hurt. I realized that what I believe is true. When one woman hurts, we all hurt on some level.
A man through a plate of food at me once. Put his hands around my neck. Called me names. Embarrassed me by his wild rantings. I called the police, kicked him out of my home, moved away from him, changed my locks, cried, and raged. But I didn't let go of him until I knew, deep down knew, that I would be okay without him, and he would be just fine without me. It took a lot of time, work, prayers, mistakes, and friends to get me to that point. Every journey begins with a single step.
Last week my friend said okay when she was told to leave. It was the first step on a path to recovery. Today my beautiful, firey, sweet, scared, fragile yet strong friend took a 2nd step, she broke the silence, she trusted us with her story. My prayer is that she will be able to keep moving forward and not look back.
If you are in an abusive situation, please hear these words:
It is NOT your fault.
You are NOT stupid.
You are NOT crazy.
Do NOT be afraid to tell someone.
You CAN get out.
LEAVE WHILE YOU STILL CAN.
I PROMISE, there IS help out there.
Praying for a world where women and children no longer go to sleep afraid.