Domestic Violence is a stain on our collective psyche in this country. It is one of those things that too many people want to ignore but that way more people – mostly women – are victims of. As an ordained person, my duty is to listen without judging who is telling me what ails their souls, but as a woman, I am horribly appalled by the idea that even now we are not thought of as being up there with the guys.
Yet, as a survivor of domestic violence, I know the things that we most need when the worst things happen in our lives. I know this monster, the one with the eyes that seem to be right on you, all the time, waiting for you to do something that they think is just not quite right enough, the one that waits to tell you that you are worthless and the one that makes you feel so very ugly. This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is only the part that we all see in movies, but the reality is not what you are seeing on the screen. Those are actors, paid to portray what could happen in an abusive relationship. What you see there is not the truth. It might look very close to it, but it is not the truth. We all end up, at least in these situations, believing, at first, that maybe we deserved to hear what we were told, and eventually, after the actual violence on our person has started, some of us think about how we will get out of what we got ourselves into. The worst is feeling helpless. I have been there. It is not easy.
There are many well-meaning people, people who think they know what to say to you, that they know just what to do. Yet, the truth is that any person who wants to survive the death-grip of domestic violence can survive, but they will need a support system. The greatest support system does not come from well-meaning people who want to hurt the person who hurt us, neither the well-meaning words of unheeded advice, but comes from those within our inner circle, who have not abandoned us because they, too, hurt a lot, and who simply and only listen to what we have to tell them. While it is great that we are loved, and I really am not trying to be terrible about this very sensitive issue, what is really great is when someone else just simply allows us to tell someone -anyone- how we are feeling.
Domestic Violence is not something that can be handled overnight. It took time to become someone’s victim, and will take a lot of time, as well, to become your own survivor. The one thing that I know I needed the very most, and blessed as I am, I got, was just for someone else to listen to what I had to say, to hear the pain that emanated from my soul, and simply and only just love me, because really, that is what we think we are not worthy of – Love.
The next time that your loved one comes to you and wants to tell you her painful story, be that same loving person who you have always been with her, and just listen without advising. The truth is, if you do not know what they have gone through, you really have no idea what to say. Really, you might think you know, based on what you have seen on TV and heard or read in the news, but in the end, you have no idea.
Victims of domestic violence want to be heard. Be that person who hears them and does not judge them for the things that they would never do to themselves, and more than anything else, never assume that because they stay, that they deserve what they are getting. You really haven’t any clue what you are talking about if you, yourself, have never had to dig yourself out of that pit of someone else’s anger and violence.
Please, just listen, because that is what they need the very most.