Love does NOT hurt. Love does not hit, shove, punch, break, stab or shoot at another person. Love does not yell, scream, curse, insult, belittle, or verbally disrespect another person. Love does not cause fear. Love does not injure you physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.
The Bible tells us “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. “1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
This week’s Spiritual Coffee highlights October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Here are current statistics on Domestic Violence in the United States:
Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States.
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. (http://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics)
Tragically, I have seen domestic violence take the lives of two of my friends. I will not include their names to protect their families’ privacy in the social media world we live in. I will never forget what domestic violence took away from their loved ones. I will always remember sitting inside churches filled to capacity attending their funerals.
My first experience was during my senior year of high school. I had a classmate who was being stalked by her violent abusive ex-boyfriend. He would call in bomb-threats to our school so the building would be evacuated and he would come onto the campus and literally kidnap her. Teachers started escorting her from class to class to ensure she was safe. When you called her home, she was never allowed to speak. Her family would take your name and message but would not put her on the telephone as he would get people to ask for her and then when she got on the phone he would verbally threaten her life. Remember, this was 1991, there were no cell-phones or Caller-ID, just land-lines and pay phones. He would stand across the street from her home. Her family called the police repeatedly who explained he was not committing a crime standing across the street on a public road. The police stated they couldn’t take action unless he was physically on their property.
The day of our Senior Class Prom (my classmate was a junior), her abuser kicked in the front door of her family’s home and stabbed her multiple times. All of us at the prom were unaware until we started receiving phone calls the next morning. I went to the hospital with other classmates. We could only look at her through the ICU glass. I did not recognize her. At 17 years old, this was my first time seeing anyone on life-support. There were tubes and pumps and machines keeping this beautiful 16 year old young woman alive. She lived for several days until her body was no longer able to keep going.
Her murderer was arrested and went to prison but not for long. He received 18 years.
My second friend to lose their life to domestic violence was a 45 year old man. A strong & physically fit, handsome, college-educated, small-business owner, Christian man. Maybe this surprises you because there are so many stereotypes and untruths surrounding who are the victims of domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.ncadv.org) states “Domestic violence is prevalent in every community and affects all people regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior as part of a much larger, systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.”
My friend was generous with a heart of gold. Do you know someone who is always bringing home stray dogs and cats? This was my friend, always wanting to help others except in his case he unfortunately became involved with a stray “abuser”. She had a violent history but he didn’t know any of this. He allowed her to move into his home, and even bought her a used car so she would have transportation for work and “get back on her feet”. One September night in 2005 after he cooked dinner outside on the grill for her (as testified by neighbors), he went to bed as his days started before dawn volunteering at a church with a pre-school. While he was sleeping, she entered his room and stabbed him several times in his chest. This was 2005, so my friend had a cell phone and somehow managed to dial 9-11.
When the police arrived she was getting inside the used car he bought her. She had taken time to pack up all of her personal belongings, including her hair curlers (per police report) as she thought he was dead. She never once called 9-11. She was not injured in anyway, nor had she ever been harmed by my friend. She was not fleeing for her life, she was running from her crime.
My friend was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery. He lived one day until his strong athletic body was no longer able to keep going. His killer took a plea deal for second-degree murder. Her projected release date is 1/22/2024 per the Department of Public Safety Offender Website.
The above were my two personal experiences with domestic violence. However, I have been exposed to it professionally as well.
While I was receiving my Master’s Degree in Social Work, my first field placement was at a confidential domestic violence shelter for women and children. The shelter was actually a converted home in a residential neighborhood. It was completely unmarked to protect those staying there. I saw women and children come into the shelter with no money, no identification, no diapers, no toys, no books, no toiletries, no medicine, no coats, absolutely no possessions except the clothes they were wearing. The shelter would help provide bus tickets for women and children who were literally running for their lives to take a bus to another state and connect with a domestic violence shelter in the new state to start over. If the family stayed at the shelter and the children attended school, the police department would be notified to ensure the children had police protection getting on and off the school bus. Unlike Jennifer Lopez in “Enough” or Julia Roberts in “Sleeping with the Enemy” or Sanaa Lathan in “The Perfect Guy”, the abuser is not gone forever by the end of a movie. These were real women and children facing life or death decisions every day.
Whether you are aware of it or not, Domestic Violence is occurring somewhere in your neighborhood. It is occurring inside the home of a co-worker. Domestic Violence is occurring to a member of your church. It may even be occurring inside your own extended family.
The Bible reminds us to “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering“ -Hebrews 13:3(NIV)
As Church Girls we know the two greatest commandments are to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself”. –Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV). If we are genuinely loving our neighbor as Christ commanded us, then we understand there is nothing in our Christian journey that would ever excuse inflicting domestic violence onto another person.
If you need help, or you know someone who needs help,
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Or, go online to DomesticShelters.org.
Memorize these two resources. They could save your life, or your neighbor’s life, or your co-worker’s life. Even someone at your church. Put them in your cellphone, in your planner, in your wallet. Don’t leave home without them.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”. -1 John 3:18 (NIV)
Love does NOT hurt.