Friday, June 3, 2011

Violence

I’ve had a blessed life.  I was raised by two loving normal people.  I had siblings who were protective and loving for the most part.  While I grew up during tumultuous times, I don’t remember that tumult touching my life.  My world was peaceful, safe, and loving. 

This was a blessing but it also made me a very naïve and innocent pre-teen / teenager.  I was told by my parents I could do or be anything.  I felt invincible as I’m sure most teens do. 

An incident happened in my early teens that changed me and wiped away some of that innocence and naiveté.  One of my sisters married a man and they lived just down the road from us.  One day, this sister and I returned to their farm.  I can’t remember where we were but I remember what happened when we walked into the milk house.  The milk house is where the tank is kept to store the milk in after the cows are milked.  We walked in.  Her husband stormed in with murder on his face.  I was frightened by his look, stance, and actions.  Just before he put his hands on her, I remember my sister pointing to me.  He didn’t see me I don’t think.  He grabbed my sister by the throat. 

To my utter shame, I was so scared I fled the milk house.  I remember running out of their barn and all the way home.  I know that his brother called to me as he had just arrived at their farm.  I just kept going.  I didn’t tell anyone about it.  I just fled.  I’d never seen a man put his hands on a woman like that.  My parents’ interactions were all loving.  I can’t remember them even shouting at each other.

To this day I’m ashamed of my reaction.  If I could go back, I’d fly to her defense.  I’d try to get between her and him to stop the abuse and violence she suffered at his hands. 

She is a strong woman and left the man under her own terms.  It horrifies me that she suffered any of that.  I wonder if I’d had the courage to stay to help her if she would have left him sooner.  I wonder if I’d had the courage to tell someone what I’d seen if it would have changed anything.

I know that this incident taught me a number of lessons about standing up for people even when others don’t.  It taught me to be a proponent for women.  It helped define the type of behavior I allow in my relationships.  It helped me teach my kids to stand up for themselves.  I know that I never want to feel that helpless and frightened again.

My sister and I have never spoken of that day or the incident.  I hope she has forgiven me for not defending her.  I’ve also never spoken of this because I was so ashamed of my actions. 

It is my hope that sharing this incident will help other women.  It will help them free themselves from bad relationships and dangerous situations.  I experienced one incident of violence.  It changed me forever.  If your child or children are experiencing this type of violence in the home, they are changed forever. 

It doesn’t matter if it is emotional, physical, or verbal abuse.  If someone is hurting you, I urge you to severe the relationship and protect yourself before there are children involved.  We as a society need to tell abusers (regardless of gender) that it is wrong and they HAVE to stop.  Until we do that, the abuse will continue.  Lives will be lost.  Souls will be damaged, possibly irreparably. 

2 comments:

  1. Eileen, you were just a child. Please don't blame yourself for what happened when you were a kid. I doubt seriously she does. Have you talked about the incident with her? If not, perhaps you should?

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  2. Smoky: Thank you for your support. I've been able to resolve my conflicts on this issue. My adult self has been able to look at what I did then and realize that having had no experience like that previously I did what was probably the best for both of us. Charging to her defense probably would have escalated the issue. I learned a hard lesson and grew up a lot from it.

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