Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Schmitty recently wrote a post that reminded me of something that happened way back when I still lived at home. Our house was quite close to the neighboring apartment building. In the lower level apartment lived a young couple in their early 20's. I (age 16 or so) befriended the wife (I'll call her Sarah), and we spent plenty of time hanging out in her apartment, going shopping together, etc. Our houses were so close, and the windows so low, that I could stand right outside her kitchen window and talk to her if I wanted to. Over a period of months, we became good friends.

Over time, Sarah began to confide in me that her new marriage to Rick was not so newlywed-wonderful. She told me that her husband was abusive. This didn't surprise me, as I had often heard them arguing and even saw her with a black eye at one point, which she had explained away with some excuse. Whenever Rick was due home, she would have to end our conversations and go ready the house for his arrival. I felt sorry for Sarah but helpless. I was no stranger to domestic abuse myself, and I had no frame of reference for what to do; I only knew how to be a friend, so that's what I did.

One sunny summer day, Sarah's husband came home unexpectedly, and slammed his way into the house. She was inside, and I was in the yard, and I could clearly hear them arguing, accompanied by objects being slammed around, etc. Then, suddenly, it became quiet. I took a few steps closer to the apartment, as I was feeling anxious and afraid, yet helpless. Then, I heard them in their bedroom. I heard yelling and a slap, and Sarah began screaming at him to leave her alone.

Something propelled me to the window, and there I witnessed Rick and Sarah struggling on the bed. He was on top of her, and she was screaming in terror for him to let her go. Out of nowhere, a voice inside me broke free, and yelled into the window, "Get your F--king hands off of her, or I will call the police!" Rick turned to me, shocked that someone had been standing there, and slowly got off of Sarah. Regaining his composure, he got up and walked out of the bedroom, slamming the door behind him. I ran into my house, afraid that he was coming my way, but he just jumped in his car and peeled out.

My heart was pounding in my chest; I wanted to go see Sarah. I went over and knocked on her door, but she didn't answer. After several minutes of knocking, I finally went home. From that day on, Sarah stopped talking to me. She didn't answer the phone when I called and ignored my knocks on her door. Within weeks, Sarah and Rick moved away, and I never heard from her again. I saw her once in a store and noticed that she was still wearing a wedding ring. When I smiled invitingly, she turned away from me.

My point? Sometimes getting involved can make a difference, but it takes more than a phone call to the police to stop domestic violence. People in domestic violence situations have to be ready and able to break free of it; it's a powerful cycle. I heard that Sarah eventually divorced Rick and moved on with her life. I hope she is living happily ever after, and I hope Rick got some help.

If you pray, please join me today in saying a prayer for women, men, and children who are suffering in domestic violence situations...even if that includes you.

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