Meena Rose declared this site a zone dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To that end, I want to share a few stories over the month of brushes with such violence and the pain that it carries for those who cannot stop it for another.
When I was a special teacher in an elementary school twenty years ago, domestic violence came into the classroom each day. It sat with children at their desks, peeping from behind bruised eyes and flesh. These eyes were dulled, sleep-deprived, and yet wary.
As one who has always striven to protect the innocent, my heart broke a bit more each day to watch them struggle to make it through our time together. Here is only one story out of the many.
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I met a tall, lean girl in first grade. She was a bright and lively child with brown curls and chocolate eyes that smiled when she saw you. Her face might or might not be smudged with dirt. Cleanliness of body depended on many factors in her world. Her clothes were seldom wrinkle-free or clean. Often she wore the same skimpy shirt and pants for a few days in a row.
She had nothing for winter warmth other than a thin brown sweater that was at least two sizes too small. Only two pairs of shoes seemed to occupy her closet—one pair of flip-flops and one pair of ratty sneakers.
Our school served breakfast each day, which was a boon for those children whose meals at home were sometimes few and far between.
She always ate breakfast at school. At lunch she was at the front of the line along with a few other students of like background.
One day, I sat across the table from her while my special student finished his lunch. Even with my poor eyesight, I could see the raw, red mark that circled her neck. A cold lump of suspicion cramped my stomach. I knew rope burn when I saw it.
When I asked if she needed to see the nurse about her neck, she shook her head. When I asked if she’d had an accident, she said no. I told her that if she wanted to talk about it, I’d listen. She had only one thing to say after she shrugged. She said, “One of my older brothers dragged me around the yard behind his bike.”
At that moment it took every ounce of strength I had to keep my face calm and my temper from showing. After I walked her and my student out to the playground, I went looking for the classroom teacher.
She knew about the situation. She told me that nothing could be done. The school had no recourse in the situation. “Think about where we live,” she said. I knew what she meant. That student and many like her came under tribal consideration, not the standard agencies.
My conversation with that teacher set me up for all that followed—all the futile anger, all the disgust with human cruelty, all the uncaring agencies that won’t work together to stop the abuse.
Personal knowledge of such cases doesn’t ever go away. Understanding the motivations behind the abuse doesn’t prevent continued abuse. Only a desire to change on the part of the abuser dispels the behavior and the pain.
My efforts to forgive those who choose to behave this way toward others can help take away my pain and my sense of futility. Circumstances may prevent those who care from intervening directly, but we can keep the awareness level high. We can refuse to forget. We can change ourselves to prevent us from acting on similar impulses.
- DVAM – Day 1: The Eyes Never Lie (2voices1song.com)
- Bringing Awareness of Domestic Violence (deliberatedonkey.wordpress.com)
- Domestic Violence Day 1: Verbal Abuse (secretangelps911.wordpress.com)
- Domestic Violence Day 2: Emotional Abuse (secretangelps911.wordpress.com)
- Empowering Survivors of Domestic Violence Is Topic for Oct. 3 Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago (prweb.com)
- World Renowned Spiritual Master Raises $50,000 to Benefit the… (prweb.com)