From my front row seat

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let's talk about abuse...

I used to think what I saw on television was sensationalized simply to outdo whatever was on the other channels.  But sadly, I’ve learned through my experience at Blue Monarch that the violence on television actually falls way short of what people really do to one another. 

Strangely enough, I’ve heard more than one first-hand story from a woman who was beaten and then left for dead in a ditch before getting discovered days later.  Several of our residents have suffered from hearing loss or even brain damage from severe blows to the head.  We had one survivor at Blue Monarch who was stabbed seven times and then amazingly lived to tell about it.  And we currently have a courageous woman who miraculously survived five gunshot wounds to her belly and will face her attacker in court soon.  (There are much more horrific stories that I keep to myself because I don’t want others to wish they could un-hear them, too.)

Sometimes I think abuse takes a backseat to addiction.  In the beginning of Blue Monarch, I expected to focus primarily on domestic violence, but I quickly learned that drug use becomes the easiest way to self-medicate, and then this often leads to drug addiction.  The two go hand in hand much of the time.

Abuse is such a part of the culture in some families that it’s not even recognized as abuse.   Often our applicants do not consider themselves as victims of abuse until they later learn their experience was not normal – or legal.  This is especially true if domestic violence was something they observed growing up.

I can’t count the times I have been asked, usually in a sympathetic whisper, if I was motivated to start Blue Monarch because I was a victim of domestic violence.  Thankfully the answer to that question is a big, fat “no”. 

However, someone very dear to me was, and I struggled for over twenty years to help her find a way out.  Somehow there was always an obstacle that prevented her from leaving – and most of those obstacles had to do with one thing:  her extremely low self-esteem, which was a hard thing to fix by that time.  Surprisingly, one day she actually made the decision to leave, so we took off to Florida for a few days.

She was like a bird out of a cage for the first time.  She took absolute delight in the simplest things: being able to empty the contents of her purse onto the bed, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking barefoot across the room with sandy feet, not having to straighten her naturally curly hair…For the first time in many years, she was in control of her life, and she was loving it! 

But sadly this story had a tragic ending.  Before our flight back home landed at the airport, her husband violently took his own life, which ended the abuse but did not end the pain, trauma, or damage by a long shot.  (I suspect I’m not the only one who has pondered “what if” hundreds of times since then.) 

We do not exclude men at Blue Monarch.  Quite the contrary, we love to have good men participate in our program.  We have two very smart and wonderful men who lead a book study every Friday with our residents.  Faithful male volunteers help by mentoring and tutoring our children or working on maintenance projects.  We believe it’s important to expose the women and children to men who are kind, generous, and respectful.  In fact, just yesterday one of our residents told me she hoped she could find someone like Daniel one day (a pastor who leads Bible study twice a week) because “if she could find someone who loved God the way he did, he would surely love her the right way.”

We recently had a lunch to honor Madeline and Howell Adams, who have completed a significant pledge to Blue Monarch.  After every visit we always hear lots of comments about how “down to earth and nice” they are.  This is so true, but what seems to make the greatest impression on the women of Blue Monarch is how Madeline and Howell express their tremendous love and respect for one another.  “Did you see the way she looked at him?”  “Could you believe how sweet he was to her?” 

We cover a lot of important issues at Blue Monarch, but through our work to improve self-esteem, build confidence, and study healthy relationships, if we can also raise the bar for future partners, we may have one more chance at changing future generations to come. 

We want every woman at Blue Monarch to celebrate who she is and realize just how very special God made her!  For every day she’s reminded of how uniquely wonderful she is, the stronger that conviction becomes embedded in her heart – and the further she gets from allowing someone to convince her otherwise someday.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made… Psalms 139:14