I didn’t know what I’d say up until the point the car pulled curbside.
My gaze landed on my best friend as she walked the path toward the church. Her wedding rehearsal was to begin in a few moments and I’d get to finally meet this man she loved. Instead of excitement making me tingle all over, I had spiders crawling up and down my body. Tiny limbs of absolute, utter dread.
The car stopped. I got out and made straight for Linda. She didn’t see me until I grabbed her hand from behind and hauled her off the path.
“Jenny!” Her look of surprise evaporated into that beaming, too-big-for-her face-I’m-so-happy-to-see-you smile.
There were no giddy shrieks of glee coming from me when our eyes met. I had to clench my teeth lest I drown in a flood of tears. My focus was on dragging her away from small crowd entering the church. She had to jog to keep up with me and by the time I stopped I was ready to lose it. I whirled on her, ready to wipe that wonderful smile off her face. The happy glint in her eye dimmed as soon as she saw my face…
“You swear,” I ground out through clenched teeth. “You swear to me, Linda! You swear that, THAT MAN, loves you.”
Her eyes widened. Her mouth slipped open. Her hand covered her shock. Damn it… I didn’t want her to look at me that way. That look of knowing where I was going. She knew me too well. I wanted to bring the thunder. I wanted to hold it together and launch the fear of God into her, but my tears took over.
“Swear he loves you, Linda. Swear he treats you like the Queen you are, because I swear to God, I am not standing up for you again if he so much has looked at you…if he has ever…. I wont’ do it again! I won’t sign papers as your witness again knowing if he has… I did it once and I shouldn’t have and… I won’t Linda! Swear to me…”
The bible urges us to, “Bear one anothers burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” ~ Galatians 6:2.
In the moments that followed, as we stood on the grass outside of a church before the most important day of Linda’s life…we finally got to bear a burden together.
Actors have a method to use when they need to cry on cue. They drum up a memory they know will make tears come. For me, it’s always this moment. The time in my life when I had to surrender and admit my guilt to my best friend, let fear take over and place absolute trust in God and the sister He chose for me.
Domestic abuse affects not only the families involved, but also everyone in the life of the victim. I am sure as I write this there are hundreds of people wishing they knew more, or feel helpless and guilt filled for what they couldn’t, and didn’t, do.
If you know anyone suffering from physical, mental, or emotional abuse, I know how you feel. Your fears and confusion are real and I urge you to do all you can to speak up, speak out and speak over the voices claiming you are helpless. One of the biggest adversaries a victim of abuse can have is a mouthpiece for the times when their own voice is strangled. Near or far, you’ve the ability to be a source of strength and power for a loved one who feels powerless. Rally around them and never stop telling them that they can, as Linda said, “tag out.” There is power in numbers and the bigger the network a victim has around them the better.
When Linda walked through hell in her first marriage, I was absent for the most part. There were endless physical miles between us. Back then there was no social media and no smart phones. It was just the USPS and old-fashioned telephone. I was far away, a mere voice on the other end of the phone. Other people held her. Other people packed her up and moved her out. She drove home alone… and I hated that. I should have been there. I should have loaded that car. I should have driven her home. I should have done more, better, and for the love of God I never should have signed those damn papers witnessing her first marriage. I knew in my gut something was “off” with that man… and I stayed silent.
The bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”~ Romans 8:1.
For those who feel like they are not doing enough, put your faith behind God, whether now, in the moment of your guilt and fear, or years later. Trusting that God is in control of every moment past and present and letting Him take over for roles you feel responsible to play is extremely hard to do. He has plans for us in the lives of those He chooses to keep in our life, and reasons for who He chooses to remove. God has a role for you to play in the life of the loved one being hurt. If you feel afraid for them, if you are struggling with what to do and how to do it there are resources just for you. You do not have to go it alone. Look for ways you can help through places like the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence or The National Domestic Abuse Hotline’s resources for family and friends. Every state has a resource available.
Just like how Linda said that victims are not alone, you, as family members and friends are not alone either. Support groups are out there to help you manage your own fears. With a simple daily prayer for guidance and strength, you can be a part of loving someone back to a life where fear and pain is not a daily reality and get the help you, too, will need.
~Jennifer Deschanel (aka, Goose)