Tag Archives: domestic violence

About the Men.

Continuing the discussion on violence against women part i | part ii | part iii

In a marathon talk with a friend, we came to the subject of the men,–the ones that are doing the hurting. We asked more questions and came up with few answers. Is rehabilitation possible? If we believe in the Gospel, then yes. And yet, if we knew a guy who once hit a girl, even if he was “all better,” would we set him up on a date with one of our girlfriends? (No.) Is that lack of faith? Do we know anyone who has done the hard work that surely comes with wanting and getting well? What is that work? And at the end of the day, the girl on the couch is so much more important.

Still.

I want to help women who have been hurt. Yet, I cannot do so without addressing the men. Any form of rehabilitation  for women happens after the violence, after a part of her is already ripped apart from the rest. And I want to hold her hand through the hard stuff. I’m being vague but God is still working out the plan on how I will be there for these women. I want to hold her hand but I don’t want another woman to walk through the doors of despair and violence and pain after her and that’s why I have to consider the men.

There has to be a stop gap, a mechanism.

Two athletes have been in the news recently for violence against women (one is alleged though the police found “a pool of blood” and the woman’s face was all banged up). I’m not hating on athletes and I’m not hating on men. But the NFL and the NBA , that’s the height of athleticism and the height of, as society views it, masculinity. So I have to ask: what is masculinity? What does it mean to be a man? How do we raise sons who would rather do anything than hurt a woman?

IMG_6410Society is failing our girls and that failure starts with our failure to raise up boys, men, who know how to talk about their feelings, who know patience, who are wiling to get help when confronted with demons, who see women as both strong and beautiful, more than worthy of respect.

I don’t have answers for you, only more questions. At the very least, I feel like someone has to continue to consistently ask them until there are answers and then action.

A friend told me a story, after I shared mine. He’s (obviously) a man, a husband, and a father who I have always respected. He couldn’t remember where he read it so I can’t source it (the internet, yo. It is a bottomless pit.) Here is what he sent me: the author (of this story) was at a friend’s house and the friend’s son pushed over the friend’s daughter while they were playing with each other. After the author consoled his daughter, the author’s friend took his son aside and said, “What’s the most important thing about being a man?” and the son, as he had presumably been taught, responded sheepishly, “Be kind and gentle.”man

Can you imagine what type of world we would inhabit if that’s what it meant to be a man?

So there are these great organizations teaching girls all the red flags and how to stay out of bad situations and self esteem, and I think that is fantastic. Really. But let me say for the record, I was taught all of that too. And still it happened to me. Or I let it. It gets confusing. When love (or what we think is love) enters the picture things become muddy and distorted.

So instead I am asking this question:

world

The men I’ve known and watched wield power emotionally, physically, sexually look like the rest of of the men out there. But the last words anyone would use to describe those men would be gentle or kind. If we lived in a world where that was the height of masculinity, maybe those men would put down their weapon. Maybe they would never pick it up in the first place. Because they–lacking gentleness and kindness–would be the weaklings. Their need for power and control would be their shame–not ours. 

Gentleness and kindness.

I’ll tell you one thing–the men I know who I respect, who respect me, who love me well as a sister, who I watched marry my friends and father their kids, the men I’ve never feared or felt unsafe with, those men  have gentleness and kindness in abundance (Ironically, these are some of the more “traditionally masculine” men I know…)

So while there are still so many questions, I feel like there are two answers: gentleness and kindness. Those are qualities I can rest my head against. So maybe we start there.

I’d love to know your thoughts.
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franklymydear

Let’s be Frank…Check out Jenni’s blog!

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The Breach.

IMG_7842One night, since this and this and also this, I read and researched before bed. I quickly finished a great book exhorting us:  Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have, before delving into the hard stuff–research on sexual and domestic abuse. (There. I have officially said the words.)

I could not sleep after that. Not a wink. Not even a quick fifteen minutes. I could not turn away and close my eyes to the fact that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted (and that’s knowng this is the most unreported crime). I turned into the coolness of my pillow and could not find solace. God and I talked for a long time but I did not sleep.IMG_7847

I know I said I am not the biggest fan of statistics and I’m not. I think a HUGE part of that is because I don’t want to be a statistic and yet I am one. I cannot deny it, especially after telling my story. And yet, after so many women coming forward privately and publicly after my post, those numbers wore your faces.

And I could not turn away from you. Or even my own sometimes haunted reflection.

Someone asked me: what is the right response when someone confides in you about something so raw and painful? Is there a right thing to say?

I don’t know, I replied. But I know there are wrong things to say. (a whole other post.)

This is what I do. I look you in the eye. If you’ve typed your message to me across computer screens, I type your name. I tell you how sorry I am, because oh, God, I am. I tell you it is not okay–this horrible, awful thing that happened to you. Because if it happened to you, those words–it is not okay–can never be said too often.

Whatever you believe, wherever it is you are in this process society calls healing, I actively try not to push. I try to metaphorically settle myself next to you, reach for your hand and say:youarenotalone

I talk to God about it, most especially lately. I have never longed for His voice and direction like I have these past few weeks. I ask him: what can I do? and He says: Today follow me. So, I do that. With all your stories in my heart, I do that. I feel the tension of a gathering wave for something coming and I prepare with my books and research and tough questions and hard conversations with my people and make difficult decisions.

I’ve made so many mistakes in my life and I am sure that I will make many more. But I am committed that this next chapter be written by God, that I will seek to honor Him in all my choices as He writes this chapter, that I be held accountable by the people who really love me and know my walk, others who want to honor Him, especially in this. And you, my friends, my sisters in arms, you are a part of it too. You are the reason for this new chapter, though it does not have a name yet. It is dedicated to you.

I see God’s work in you and it makes me brave. So I pray crazy prayers and I do crazy things and no matter what others think I know this: my head is down, my eyes on the path in front of me. I can’t see very far ahead but I prayerfully place my foot where His has only just been and I trust Him in a way it is still impossible for me trust others and even if I am called foolhardy, wrong, even if others claim I do not honor Him, I know the way I walk and I know that I want to honor him with all I have.

He and I know.isaiahSignature

 

 

 

franklymydear

Let’s be Frank…Check out Jenni’s blog!

I am in the middle of putting together a bunch of resources which will accompany these posts but it is still a process I have yet to finish.

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A Letter.

Dear Girl who Loves that Boy,

I won’t tell you that you don’t love him and I won’t tell you that he doesn’t love you. No one sane falls in love with a monster hidden under a bed or behind a closet. Girls dream of falling in love with tall drinks of water, with mouths that quirk and smile, with hands wide of palm, and fingers that hang from belt loops. He took you to the movies or to a school dance and when your hands touched, butterflies took off in your stomach like geese headed south for the winter and you knew, you knew you were made to feel this feeling, his hand on the small of your back, your face pressed to the softness of his shirt. He smells like everything good you’ve ever known.

You love him.

A tumble and a fall, and before you know it, his eyes are the first you think of in the morning. The tip of your tongue is always ready for his name. You still believe you can be anything, do anything; you read Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” and you applaud in your mind, your dad hugs you and your mom kisses you, and you are the farthest thing from a statistic. They still tuck you in at night. You are no ordinary girl and he is no ordinary boy.

You love him.

Maybe it goes like this. Maybe these are the words to you song. It starts with pinches beneath the table on your thigh, telling you to be quiet. Once there is an argument and he raises his voice. The next time he’s in your face and for the first time you don’t recognize him and later, when you tell yourself the story, you don’t recognize yourself. “What?” your friends say but their voices come through water, as if they are lost beneath the sea. “What? What did he do?” But they don’t understand, do they? They don’t know the way he can cry into the curve of your shoulder, the way his sorrow splits you wide open.

You love him.

And he loves you, even when he is yelling, when he takes you by the arms and slams you against the door, and even though your fingers skitter away from the lump on the back of your head, you know he loves you. His sorries are lullabies; he’s the cowboy tipping his hat, murmuring, “I’m sorry, miss,” from the side of his mouth; somewhere a coyote croons to the moon and you realize it’s you.

Still, you love him.

There is nothing I can say to keep you from loving him. You cannot corral those feelings. They are strong. They will fight to live. If you walk away, because no one should feel this way, I can’t promise that your love for him evaporates like ice water on a hot day. It will hurt, like pulling glue from your skin. Because you love him. Anyone who tells you that loving him isn’t real doesn’t understand. You love him.

But it’s time to love yourself more. Leaving will hurt like your skin is being torn from muscle and bone. But that pain is the beginning of something better.

The pain that comes with his rage and his slaps breeds nothing but sadness, a bottomless pit of it, to wallow in. If you are lucky, he will leave you and you will cry until one day, you wake up and you realize, this is a beginning for you, an escape hatch. Or maybe you will have to be the one to walk away. Maybe you will feel the ache and pain but you won’t be headed for a dead end anymore. You were born for more.

You know that. Deep down, you know that even more intensely than you love him.

You were made to be cherished and loved. No one should be pinched beneath the table. No one should feel a lump on the back of her head. And I know you love him fiercely and walking away might be the hardest thing you ever do, but you have to do it. You have to. Don’t let anyone tell you it will be easy; it won’t be. But in six months, one year, two, you will be healing. You will be a new girl, stronger, built for things you cannot imagine. Good things. Happy things.

You won’t love him anymore. You will pity him. That’s all he gets from you now.

Instead, you’ll love yourself.

The story you live now is not for you. Exit stage left.

You were meant for more.

Love,

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Disclaimer: I am fully aware that there are all types of Domestic Violence situations that cross boundaries of gender, age, and class. This issue is close to my heart and this was the letter I chose to write, to the girl who loves that boy. There are millions of other letters that could be written. If you or someone you know, needs help please go here. If you want to give, please go here. And I promise this blog won’t be highlighting every cause in the entire world but Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence happen to be the two closest to my heart.

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