Tonight while working on my scrapbooking, I pulled out a picture that instantly brought tears to my eyes, and terror to my heart.
Twelve years ago, my mother had to place her husband in a care facility. He had been in a car accident, sustained dementia, and had become abusive to the point of holding a gun on her and threatening her life. After she placed him, she asked me and my little family to come live with her. I moved in, bringing my husband, my little daughter, and my very pregnant belly.
Her husband figured out a way to leave the care facility and would go outside, walk a mile, tell a passing motorist that he had lost his way, and they would give him a ride to our house. We then had to keep him calm while we called the police to come pick him up. We could not get the care facility to put him in a room with tighter security, and he had visiting rights with friends, so sometimes they would bring him to the house. He had never been violent around them, and so they saw no need to believe my mother’s “claims.”
One afternoon when he showed up, he was yelling and screaming. My new baby boy was asleep in the bedroom, and my mother told me to take my daughter and hide. I took her and the phone into the bathroom, locked the door, called the police, and whispered stories in my daughter’s ear for the next half an hour, listening to hear if the baby woke up. I was terrified. This man had expressed in the past that he wanted to hurt my children, and I knew that if my son woke up and started to cry, he would be in danger. I prayed over and over again that the police would hurry, that my son would stay asleep, and that my daughter wouldn’t raise her voice.
Finally the police came and took him back to the care center. I headed immediately into the bedroom to check on my son. He was awake, but he had been lying there quietly, without making a sound. When he saw me, his little face lit up and he gave me the most beautiful grin. This was the picture I scrapbooked tonight, the one that commemorates a miracle. Somehow he knew not to make a sound.
Domestic violence hurts everyone. I have never been in an abusive relationship, but I was terrified that day, for my own safety as well as that of my children and my mother, because of the relationship she was in. These abusive episodes spread outward, like ripples, and you never know who will be hurt. If you are in an abusive relationship, please consider what it’s doing to your family. Some women say, “He only hits me, and I can take it, so it’s all right.” Don’t devalue yourself like this, and don’t naively think that you’re the only one being affected. Get help. Get it for you, for your children, for your little grandchildren—for anyone who has had to be near it.