Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sometimes the Message is Serious

What does your mind think when you hear of a woman whose daughter was shot, execution style in the head? What do you think when you hear that this daughter was in her early 20's and had finally made the decision to leave her abusive boyfriend? What in the world is my spirit supposed to do when I think that a woman was planning to leave tomorrow, Friday. Her family had helped her pack her things last weekend.

But, on Wednesday a man with evil intentions decided that he was not going to let her go. On Wednesday, the years of threats and violence culminated in a murder/suicide.

There are those moments in life when your spirit just is still. It feels like your heart has stopped, but you are still breathing. That is how I felt when I heard the tragic story above. A local friend of one of my close friends lost her daughter in an unspeakable tragedy. And seeing the aftermath has been terrible.

Of course, there are no words for the family. No words to ever help with the regret that is pulsing through their lives.

But there are words for the women and men I know who are raising daughters.
No matter how old or young your girl is. She MUST know that it is never OK, for a boyfriend, fiance, husband etc., it is never OK for that boy or man to verbally, physically or mentally abuse her. EVER. It is black and white. There are no gray areas. It is as serious as life and death.

It's a slippery slope, the tumble into an abusive relationship. It's a back and forth struggle and there are always lives on the line. And our girls, who today are in pigtails and tomorrow will be in prom dresses. Our girls are strong but fragile, smart, but also foolish. And I know that sweet talking, and romance, and misguided definitions of love, cover up a multitude of hurt and harm.

I think families have to be explicit. There has to be a point where you sit your girl down, while she is still a girl and look her in the eyes. And that moment has to be real and poingnent and loving. And you HAVE to get across a message. Maybe it is this message.
 "Because you are amazing, and because we love you so much, we need you to love yourself. We need you to value yourself so much that you won't accept the lie that says that it's OK for a man to yell at you, and talk to you like scum, and hit you. The lie that whispers that you can "fix" him and that your love will heal him. Because we have lived our lives as your parents, trying to show you daily that love can be hard but it is worth it. But that even though love is hard, it is NEVER violent! There is never a reason for a man to put his hands on you with violent intent. And you know what, we need to back it up a bit. Because often before the hit or punch comes the words. There is never a reason for a man to curse you, or threaten you, or put you down. Don't be fooled my girl, there is no real love where these things exist. And if for some reason you are ever confused, if you are torn between what your heart and your head is telling you to do. Come talk to us. PLEASE, and there will be no judgements, but instead there will be understanding, and our real love that will illuminate the shadows of what he is saying and doing."

The statistics are real. Our friends and neighbors and co-workers and maybe ourselves are dealing with abuse. It happens much more often than you think. And in my life, this week just reminded me to keep on investing in our children. It reminded me to continue to show true love and acceptance to my students. Because the more of that in their lives, the less confusion they will have when the lies try to sneak up on them. I want my kiddies to grow up in affirming relationships, so that when the false comes by, they can compare it to what they know and choose what is real. Because in the end, as much as we love them and want to protect will be their choice and we will have to trust the people that they have become.

Need help or more information. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is one place to start.

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