Domestic Violence Awareness Month: From One Who Lived It

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Forty-one years ago this month, I married the man who would become my abuser. He had already altered the trajectory of my life, and our short, three-year marriage would continue to shift my life path in ways unimaginable. I usually try to ignore the date when it comes around, but, ironically, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

A few years ago, I decided to confront this memory differently, to share what I’ve written on domestic violence. Please be aware that these posts reflect on a very short part of my life close to forty years ago. I’ve spent the years since seeking to educate others on this issue. I won’t stop doing that until I’m gone, but, even then, I hope my words will live on to guide others to escape or avoid an abusive relationship.

Today, the links are in purple, the color we wear to remember those who suffer, suffered, or died at the hands of an abuser.

I doubt you can stomach all of these in one sitting, but if you want to know more about a serious topic in today’s world, any of these posts can be enlightening.

I pray that you will find a way to help someone in this situation. If there are multiple signs that make you suspect someone is in an abusive relationship, please speak to them. That said, do be careful how you do this.  Abusers read their partners’ email, texts, and mail. They eavesdrop on phone calls. They track their whereabouts. None of this technology existed when I went through this. It’s another example of technology meant for good being twisted into something dangerous. Make sure you don’t endanger them.

Telling My Story: The Pixel Project

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few months ago, a writer I admire posted information on Facebook about The Pixel Project. I checked out the site and discovered they are trying to raise awareness of violence against women.

I entered a “contest” called Survivor Stories, and they selected my story of domestic violence to appear on their site on Mother’s Day. Below is the link.

The Survivor Stories Project

Many of you know I started this blog to tell my journey to faith. This included talking about my experience with domestic violence. It happened a lifetime ago, and I’ve conquered that part of my life, but I write this blog to help people going through some of the things I’ve gone through. If you’ve never read the posts about my experience with domestic violence, please check out these tags in the sidebar:  Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Violence. If you’re curious about my whole story, check out this tag: The Journey.

Also, if you use Twitter, searching for #SurvivorStories will bring up some of the other stories told by The Pixel Project.

Thank you for reading. And as always, please feel free to share my posts.  I write them in hopes that they help someone who’s struggling.

A Loved One’s Addiction Changes Us

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Christians whose adult children deal with addictions change how they see the world. They must to survive.

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? Ephesians 2:15-16

The car pulling into the gas station today caught my eye. Nothing special about it, I just noticed it because we jockeyed for the same pump briefly. We ended up on opposite sides of a different pump. The car had a handicapped placard, so I blinked in surprise when a young woman popped out of the driver’s seat. In one glance I knew. She’s an addict. How? There’s a look around their eyes. They have an unhealthy used, run-over appearance in their face. They tend to be skin and bones. I chided myself for thinking such things and went on and pumped my gas.

While I replaced my card in my wallet, she walked up to the payment window. I couldn’t help but wonder if she knew my daughter. A few moments later, she returned. She noticed me watching her and veered toward me. “Can you spare a dollar or two for gas?”

I told her I didn’t have any cash. She shrugged and walked away. A wave of guilt hit me. Could I buy her some gas? Sure, but there was no way I’d hand any cash to her. And that’s really what she wanted. The gas request is a subterfuge. It’s not like a dollar or two would help.

While I waited beside my car, I heard her answer a phone call.  “Hello? Who’s this?”  she said this with a suspicious, sharp edge to her voice. Yep. I’ve heard that tone before. As I finished up, she left the car at the pump and headed toward the grocery store. I assume to beg from someone more amenable.

I found myself driving home replaying some stories my grandchildren have told me. My daughter pan-handled for gas money and food, her children in tow. One man threatened to call social services on her for exposing the children to this. I wish he had. I’ve heard some disturbing stories of the things she did when short on cash. I’ve experienced what I call “the shakedown” when she tried to coax money out of us.

Was I wrong not to help this woman today? I’m typically a very giving person. I feel empathy for the person in need. In Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus says when we provide food, drink, clothing, or we visit prisoners, it’s the same as doing these things for Him. I can get very literal about this and say this woman did not lack in food, drink, or clothing. She was not in prison. She drove a decent car. I don’t think that’s the point in those verses.

Then there’s the passage at the beginning of this post. Ephesians 2 explores acts versus faith, so it may be out of context to point to it as a command to give to the poor. Yet, I’ve seen it quoted as guidance for dealing with those in need.

I struggle with this dilemma as I’m sure many other Christians do. Should we give to someone who appears in need when we suspect an ulterior motive? There is a flip side to this discussion. We don’t hear it talked about as much in our current society, but it’s worth remembering. Later in Ephesians we read:

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:25

If the woman honestly needed gas money, then it would be ok to help her. But when she walked away from me, she didn’t ask any other person at the gas station. She walked past a woman putting groceries in her car and didn’t ask her either. Someone truly in need would not shrug and walk away when I said no. They would tell the person who called them on the phone that they were in need of gas. They would ask everyone they could for help. She didn’t. She only asked me because she saw me watching her.

Whether I like it or not, I’m more cynical than I used to be. I can’t help it. Maybe I’m wiser. I don’t know. What I do know is having children with addiction problems changes the way Christians look at the world.