I've had some time to think since my last post on the domestic violence that I witnessed, and I feel like it warrants a follow-up. Stick with me here...it's not as long as it looks...
Many people responded to my post on Facebook, this blog, and in person. Most of them said that I made the right decision, that you have to be careful not to put yourself in harm's way, and that I could have gotten hurt if I had intervened. And in general, they were right.
Based on my life experiences, I don't think that I'll make the same choice again.
I grew up in a home plagued by domestic violence. I experienced some directly, but watched my mom take the brunt of it. It was hell on earth. It still is hell on earth, sometimes, even though it's not happening any more. The effects of domestic violence reach far beyond the time they occur.
It has been interesting for me to stop and think about the emotions that I felt. First, there was a suffocating fear. Like my heart was being squeezed to the point of pain, and all the air gone from my lungs. I felt the blood drain from my face, and felt the feeling powerlessness that was all too familiar as a child. The feeling of not being able to stop the horror unfolding in front of me. Then came the adrenaline: the urgency to call the police, the attention to every detail, the need to get someone to help. Finally, the fury. I was not only mad for her, but mad for myself, for my mom, for other women I know who have been abused, and for all the women I don't know. There is a righteous fury that survivors of domestic violence hold inside of them...one that isn't generally seen until provoked. It was that righteous fury that made me wish I had intervened.
And honestly, so what if I end up with a black eye, a broken arm? Wounds heal. I know that stepping in would neither cause the abuser to immediately drop to his knees and repent, nor empower the woman to stand up and walk away. More likely, she would simply go back home and refuse to press charges, and the cycle would continue. BUT, if for just one minute, she stopped and thought that someone loved her...stopped to wonder why a stranger would stop to get involved, that could be seed enough for a change down the road. A seed that I hope would eventually point to Christ, and the unimaginable love that he gives.
Yes, there are risks involved. But having LIVED in domestic violence, the risks are totally worth it. Some women never feel empowered enough to leave. Some men are never questioned. I don't think I can save the world. I don't feel like I need to intervene. For me, it's just the right thing to do. I've spoken with other survivors who feel the same.
Christ's love compels Christians to share with others, on account of the forgiveness, grace and mercy He gives. It's an undeniable, uncontainable joy, and they are compelled to share that with others.
Similarly, living through domestic violence compels the survivor to make a difference in the lives of women living through it now. They know the taste of freedom, and cannot stand to see another woman still in bondage.