It is a horrible thing to witness one of your loved ones being abused, while you sit helplessly by-fuming and afraid. Oh sure, you could take the law into your own hands and beat up or kill the scum who beats your daughter, mother, or sister. But is that wise? Is violence begetting violence really the answer? Sadly, there are countless family members, including sons and daughters serving jail time for defending an abused loved one. Is beating up or killing the one who terrorizes your loved one really the answer?
As a child, I witnessed my own mother being beaten and abused in the most horrific manner. If memory serves me correctly, I witnessed her abuse from the age of five to my teen years. I knew she was still being abused when I became grown and moved away from home. But the impact wasn’t the same as what I witnessed as a child. At some point in my adult life, I concluded that she could not be helped-if she chose not to help herself.
Eventually my mother left her life of violence and moved in with one of my brothers. But she didn’t live long enough to enjoy her freedom from domestic violence. She died at the age of 57 from a massive brain hemorrhage. She had high-blood pressure, but never took her medication as she should have.
There was a time, when one of my uncles beat up one of her many abusers. Needless to say, a man who beats on a woman most likely will not fight another man. The abuser did not fight my uncle back, but eventually took his own beating out on my mother. I never saw my uncle run interference again after that incident, for I conclude that he had given up trying to help my mother.
When my oldest brother tried to defend my mother, he was shot at and chased away from our residence. We were all living with my mother’s abuser at the time, so he put my brother out of the house with nowhere to live. Prior to this, my brother broke the abuser’s jaw, and put him in the hospital for beating my mother. He paid the price of being homeless, and almost being shot, hurt or dead himself.
The point I am driving home with this post is, abused women are not the only ones affected by the injustice that they suffer. Domestic violence is akin to the domino effect. If an abused woman has children, they suffer in many ways. Many children become a bed-wetter, develop nightmares, fears, anxiety and anger, etc. When momma is wounded, so are her children-sometimes physically, but most definitely spiritually, psychology, socially, and emotionally. And the sad part is, many children carry a lift-time of scars from witnessing the abuse of their parents.
As a mother, it would be very difficult not to desire revenge on your daughter’s abuser. Especially when he scars her physically, mentally and emotionally. To save her, you think of ways to get rid of him, but fear the consequences of possible incarceration. But in many other ways, you fear this brute just as much as your daughter does-if not more. Whenever you hear of the death of another victim of domestic violence, your heart sinks for you know full well that could be you one day identifying your child in the morgue.
I had often wished that my mother understood how much her family cared about her, and that those who loved her suffered as well. Most times, it isn’t until a woman successfully leaves an abusive situation that she reflects on how much emotional turmoil her family has endured along with her. Many nights of lost sleep, anxiety, crying, fear, and thoughts of revenge linger for years.
Family members, especially members of an immediate family are next in the line of fire-both directly and indirectly. When they step in to rescue the battered woman, anything can and often does happen. I personally have had an abused family member turn on ME after trying to help her free herself from the abuse.
In this situation, I was beside myself when I saw her swollen eye, and many bruises. I was livid! And I wanted revenge. As I hunted this person down, along with a good friend of mine, all I could think of was, “He has to be dealt with.” Imagine two females, armed with a hammer and a straight razor, riding down the mean streets of Camden New Jersey looking for the perpetrator.
Fear was not an option, and I was beside myself. We didn’t find him, but later on this family member called me and told me to bug off! She mentioned that she saw my car circling the neighborhood, and she and her abuser were keeping out of sight. Ok, I was more upset than you can imagine. And I told her, “Give your friends my phone number so that I can come and claim your body when he kills you!” After that, I tried very hard to go on with my life, and it took a great while before I could. Prior to this incident, I had nightmares, flashbacks of my mother’s abuse, and I wanted to do something about it. As a child I was helpless to do anything, but as an adult, I was willing to play the part of rescuer.
To this day I thank God that I never found that man. I don’t know what would have happened, but I believe that God protected me, my friend, and even the perpetrator. From that day on, I just prayed for my family member, and learned to let go. Eventually she left him, but her self-worth has been damaged for life. I say this because she still chooses companions that are not in her best interest.
I pray this day that any person-male or female who is being abused, that you will consider your family. Think really hard about your children, and know that domestic violence affects all who care about you. You are the first domino in line, and when you fall, there are others who will fall with you-emotionally, mentally, physically and in many other ways. Domestic violence is no longer a “private matter.” Even if the violence doesn’t spill outside of your closed doors, the devastation is far reaching.
I won’t say it “isn’t fair” that your family is suffering along with you. For this simple reason-you need help, and you may be in denial that you need it. You may not be fully aware of the fact that you don’t have to continue to live this way, and you do deserve much better. It may take you years to break free, and I pray to God that you will, for not many do. But know this, there is someone who cares about you. First of all, God cares about you, and Jesus cares so much that He died for YOU!
If you shun those who are trying to help you now, they may not be there where you are truly ready to flee your violent prison. There is a mother or father somewhere praying for you. A child crying for you. A brother willing to fight for you. A sister that needs you to live. And a whole new life ahead of you.
LET US PRAY
Father God, most gracious, loving and kind, hear this prayer on behalf of the abused and their families. Deliver the mother’s, father’s, children, and other family members who are crying out for justice, and seeking revenge for the abused. Help them to know that vengeance belongs to You and You alone! Your Word says, “I shall repay!”
I pray that strength is bestowed upon those who are mistreated, to find a way out of the madness. Domestic violence is not Your Will, or Your Way Father, and I pray that those who practice violence will be called to give an account in this life. Touch the hearts of those who offend, and turn their violence into harmony and peace.
For those who have been devastated by violence, I pray for Your peace, mercy and grace to shine upon their lives-both now and forevermore. Bless the children that are witnessing the violence to not grown up and repeat this vicious cycle. Let those who suffer in silence find their voice of courage to break forth with the truth.
Those who are spiritually blind Father, please open their spiritual hearts and understanding to know what Your perfect Will is for their lives. Help them to know that there is truly Power in the Blood of Christ, and they can overcome a life of violence.
Help the abused to understand that we are living in a dying world, and time as we know it is not long. Some day You will send Your Son Jesus to end all suffering upon the earth, and wickedness will cease to be. In the meantime, their lives are precious to You. And You have an assignment for each and every one of us, and it is not a life of violence.
Call Your children unto You oh God, and let them drink of Your Living Water. Bind the Word of God within their hearts, souls and minds, and help them to experience true peace. Most of all, I pray that our churches will begin to reach out to the abused, and show more concern for their welfare. Give Your ministers of the gospel courage to call domestic violence what it is-SIN! It is wrong-doing, period! In and out of the church.
Forgive us Dear Father for our many sins, in word, thought and in deed.
In the name of Jesus I pray,