For well over a decade I have worked (in some form or another) with victims. Not all were victims of crime-some were just victims of circumstance. I have always had a passion for helping the underdog--or as some would say, trying to save the world.
I guess some things never change. Over the last few months I have been helping someone who I can only describe as a classic domestic violence victim. Oh, her spouse never physically or sexually assaulted her (as far as I know), but the power and control behavior is extremely prevalent. They have been estranged for nine months and it has been a roller coaster ride, but finally a couple of weeks ago it all changed. Over the last few weeks he has broken into her home more than once, taken all of their possessions (including the food from their freezer, momentos, and transportation) and terrorized her in the process. During all of this she decided to move with family out of state...but has been dragging her feet. Throughout this I have tried to be the calm in the storm, listen when she wants to talk, provide logical, sound suggestions during a time when her thinking is anything but logical and calm, and provide a safe place for the kids to be. I have tried to help her see the big picture - and to look at what her options are. I have tried to empower her - help her gain the confidence and belief that she deserves so much more than this. I thought this was what she needed, but how is this any help when your dogs, food, photos, momentos, belongings, and most of all peace of mind have been stripped from you? When you do not feel safe and secure, but instead are frightened for your safety and unsure about your future?
Today she said to me, through tears and a trembling lip, "Why should I have to leave my home; disrupt my life? Why am I being punished for what HE did? I am moving because I HAVE to, not because I want to." The truth of the matter is, I have no answers for her. All I could say was that I was sorry for what has happened to her and wished it was not this way. All I could say, is ultimately it is HER choice and ask her to think what her life will be like if she stays; focus on the positive and quit looking back saying "coulda, woulda, shoulda." I offered an ear and a place to feel safe if she wants it. However, I had to step back and consider what she was saying. She is moving (as she describes it) to "the country" where she does not know where anything is. "Country" - with cows and pastures. She has no job or vehicle and will be staying with family. She is leaving everything and everyone she has known for almost 40 years - and not because she wanted to or because of something good, but because HE has beaten her down. How is this fair? I know, life isn't about "fair" but she brings up a good point. She has taught me a lesson-a glimpse from the inside. One I hope to share with others.I have no answers for her or other victims, but maybe I am not supposed to. All I can do (and all many of us can do) is be there-listen, help pick up the pieces, and pray. Be there for others - help them when they are down because you never know when you might be down there with them. I left my friend with a book and a thought today as I walked away. The book was entitled Under His Wings by Patsy Clairmont. The book is about needing refuge and lifted up- I found it at a thrift store a long time ago and for no real reason picked it up. I guess this was the reason. Today I told my friend I wanted to empower her-and hopefully this book will help do that.