Every story of domestic violence breaks my heart. The injustice outrages me.
This time was no different.
Defeated, exhausted and devastated, N, who left her dangerously abusive husband three years ago, wrote me a few weeks ago and said,
"Dad wants me and X back together. He wants us a family. He even said he had a dream about X giving him a hug so he cried of joy and emotion. Dad said, 'You taught him a lesson and now it's enough. He is not that bad. He just made a mistake.'"
I read it and I couldn't sleep. Feeling invisible is one of the worse feelings in the world. I was so angry at how my friend was dismissed! It's NOT fair!
Her worth, her potential, her intelligence, her health... rendered insignificant by someone who supposed to be the person who has her back. The isolation this imposed is poison to her already worn out psyche.
This was not OK. I can't let her fade away. The world would lose an incredible human being.
Not on my watch.
Domestic abuse survivors need community support.
There are powerful and loving people of Huffington Post. I know you, dear readers, have the potential to lift her up with that thoughtfulness, exponentially more than I can do as one person.
I just had to share her story.
When you know, when you watch it, I'm sure you will be driven to give her some words of comfort and acknowledgment. You and I together can give her VISIBILITY! We can give her the emotional support that will make such a huge difference in her life.
Please watch the video, read her plea to her dad, and then, share some supportive words with N. We can never know a person's story by looking at them. Most people smile through the pain, and then don't get acknowledgment for their awesome feats of survival.
This is a true story. The woman, N, is played here by, Andrea Zona to protect her identity. Music composed for N by Tom Ross.
Can you give a few words to her today? Especially if you are a father of a little girl. What might you tell her?
This is what you can do to help people who are still in abusive relationships:
Let them talk. Believe what you hear. When you are abused, your abuser tells you that you are overreacting and it is your fault. So it is hard to assess how bad the abuse is. You believing them will help them get a more robust sense of self. It will build their confidence and help them make important decisions.
2. Talk to them
Negative voices are loudly repeating in their heads. They need kindness and compassion. Be patient. Tell them it is not their fault, that they are worthy and loved by you over and over.
3. Help them plan
It is not easy to "just leave." Leaving can be extremely dangerous. It may take months or a year to plan. Be patient, think a long time over every idea and possible consequence to find the safest answer. As dangerous it is to live with an abuser, it is often more dangerous to leave.
4. Build a community
Leaving an abusive relationship is very complicated. It is not something to take on without support. Self-doubt is huge and can be immobilizing. Community support is essential. Surround them with people who love them and see them.
5. Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-7233 to find resources near you.