I started out my morning pretty happy. I got snuggles from my toddler, my oldest came in to say good morning and get a hug.
Then my Dude came in and explained to me that he "didn't drop it, there was just too much gravity." He never did explain to me what exactly he didn't drop... I suppose I'll find that out later.
We went to work, and then went to get hair cuts, and grab a few groceries. We visited with a bunch of friends inside, wandered around for awhile, and found our treasures.
All in all, it started out better than any of the other days this week.
On our way out of the store, I saw something that simply broke my heart.
It was a girl I'd known in high school. You know, those girls that always seemed so picture perfect. Makeup always flawlessly applied, newest in-style clothes, perpetually surrounded by friends, and always had plans for the weekend. I haven't seen her very much since high school, and we never did run in the same circles, but it always seemed like she had this fabulous life.
Until today. And most likely for a long time before today. I think something tragic happened somewhere between those high school days and what I saw today.
You see, huddled on the curb of the store, her little girl curled into her, sat this woman. And she was having a pretty intense day. The man crouched in front of her, right in her face, threatening to her in a low voice, trying to make it seem as though they were just having a conversation. Except I could see the fear in her eyes, and the way that her hands were nervously picking at her arms, wanting desperately to be anywhere but where she was, but not able to get out. And the poor little girl with questions in her eyes that no child should ever have.
It broke my heart. Actually, it's still breaking my heart. That she feels like she has nowhere to go. That this little girl has to question her safety as if its part of her day. That this barbarian feels that he has a right to do this to them. And I'm not saying this the woman can't be the aggressor in the relationship. But that wasn't the case today. He was the one in her face, making threats, talking about taking away all the money and her car, not letting her get away. He was the one that wouldn't move when she asked. He was the one trapping that innocent little girl beside her mother, forcing her to listen to all of this.
I tried to make eye contact with her, at least to let her know that someone was there, but she was looking down at the ground, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. I moved down the sidewalk a little, with all three of my littles in tow, and pretended that I was waiting for a ride. Not directly beside them, so that my kids would notice what was going on, but close enough that I could try to help if things escalated.
I didn't want to interrupt them, partially because I had no way of predicting what would happen to my kids if I did, but also because I know what it's like to be her. And my pretending to help her to make myself feel better may very well work great for me, but she may pay for it later. And what right do I have to try to make myself feel better, or to make this about me? That doesn't help anyone.
I wanted to tell her that she is worth so much more than what he has made her to believe. That her journey doesn't need to end here. That she is enough, exactly as she is. That he needs help, they both do, but that she cannot fix him, no matter how hard she tries.
So I stood there, listening to their "conversation", with her saying that she couldn't trust him anymore, that he had hurt her one too many times, that he had no write to hurt her physically, that their daughter wasn't safe with him, and she just couldn't do it anymore. She would find somewhere to move to.
And I watched person after person walk by. None of them even looked down at them. I waited a good 5-10 minutes, shaking in anger and fear for this poor woman and child, and no one else even noticed. I was getting ready to put my babies in my truck, drive it over to where I could lock them safely in, and then maybe I could do something. Anything. I couldn't just stand there and let this woman think that no one would help her.
After awhile, a store manager was walking in to start his shift, and I motioned him over. He looked at me funny, and was going to keep walking. I motioned a little bit more convincingly, and he finally came over. I pointed to where they were, and told him that his store was on the brink of having some major domestic drama unfolding and at last, someone else noticed. I told him that I had been standing there for quite some time, hearing a lot of threats, swearing, and tears.
He walked over to where they were, and just stood there. He didn't say anything. He simply took his phone from his pocket, ready to dial if he needed to. But I am absolutely positive that if I hadn't drawn his attention to it, he too would have walked right by. They all walked into the store a minute or two later. I don't know what happened after that. I can imagine, but those images will keep me from sleeping tonight.
No one seems to really want to get involved in other people's lives anymore. We're all scared that something bad is going to happen if we help, so we stand by and do nothing. I'm not saying that we need to put ourselves or those that we love in the line of fire. But there has to be someone that lets those who are being abused know that there is help out there. That someone does care, that they are worth it, their lives are in danger, and there is a way out. There are people who will help them.
We can sign petitions, we can share Facebook posts about things, but until we actually stand up for what we believe in, and take action, we are nothing but keyboard warriors. And I don't know about you, but my keyboard doesn't have the power to save those lives.
If you have a friend who is struggling, or you suspect that something is going wrong in their life, stick close. Help them. Be available to them. When you are the victim of abuse, any kind of abuse, you begin to doubt that you are worth saving, or that there are people out there who can save you. You don't want to put others at risk because you made bad decisions, and if you ask them for help, they may be in physical danger for helping you, so you just don't ask. You keep waking up each day, wondering if today is finally going to be the day that ends it. Or if someone is going to notice that those "walls" or "doors" or "stairs" keep leaving you bruised and battered more and more often. You're terrified to leave, but terrified to stay.
I looked at this woman's Facebook profile when I got home. And it shows all of these perfect pictures. Family vacations. Holidays where everything looks amazing. She has a photo of her, her husband, and both of their kids cuddled up and smiling.
She is one of the many that has one of those Facebook perfect lives. And if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would have believed she really did have that perfect life she's always seemed to have.
I pray that if you find yourself in a situation that makes you fear for your life, you will have the courage to ask for help. If you are in a relationship and find yourself turning into someone you can't stand to see in the mirror, I pray you find the courage to ask for help. If the person you are with is making you feel as if your sanity is disappearing, ask for help. No relationship should turn people into victims or aggressors. And no society should turn a blind eye to it.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for loving me, even when I didn't feel very lovable. I thank you for bringing good people into my life, people who are always there for me, even when things go horribly wrong. I thank you for my family, even on the imperfect days, the ones where we are like sandpaper, rubbing off those rough spots. I thank you that my kids were able to be oblivious to the heartache today, that they didn't have to lose that part of their innocence today. Father, I lift up all of those who are struggling in their relationships. I pray that you would speak to their hearts, that you would be a presence in their lives. I ask that hearts would be changed, that anger would be broken, and that wisdom and peace would guide their actions, not insecurity and pride. I pray that all of those who are fearing for their lives would have an angel show up today, before it's too late. I pray that those who are called to help, would step out of their comfort zones and say yes to that call. And most of all, I pray that we could end this cycle, of abuse and of turning a blind eye. Help us to be people that care. Help us to be people of action. Amen.
Here are some links if you or someone you know needs to reach out: