When witnessing an abuse in public, it’s easy to put a stranger in their place. You will likely never see them again, and so when you witness the injustice, it’s quite simple to yell across a parking lot, “Hey, leave her alone.” You wouldn’t even hesitate to call the police if you sensed danger in the situation. But coming to the defense gets a little trickier when it’s your friends who are involved.
Difficult as it may be, getting involved is a really important part of being a true friend. I’m not talking about meddling in your friends’ private affairs. But I do think that every abuse needs to be confronted. Unfortunately, I have had more than a few encounters with friends who were in bad relationships. Just like on the school yard, bullies need to be shut down. And the victims need to be encouraged.
When my friend met me one morning with bruises on her face, I was angered more than I was saddened. She had been on the receiving end of her husband’s irate temper. My first question to her was, Are you and your children in a safe place? She assured me that they were. Her resolve to come out of this stronger amazed me.
This wasn’t the first time she had endured physical abuse. Her childhood had been riddled with one bullying molestation after another. But she refused to let this dictate her future or her children’s future. I encouraged her to press charges against her husband and put him where he belonged—behind bars. She was too scared to do so because she thought he would take revenge on her later. But she did, at least, get away from him.
I believe in and will defend the sacred commitment to marriage. But when a man turns his wife into a punching bag—adios. My friend’s marriage had lost any signs of love a long time ago. There was little holding her back from separating herself from him completely, but sometimes it can be more difficult to help a friend see how bad the situation really is.
Some people, especially women, cling to that memory of love that once existed in their abuser. In these instances, it is difficult to successfully encourage a separation. But as a friend, you must encourage such action if it’s necessary. A man who has no regard for a woman’s safety, has no clue what love is about. His actions are no longer those of negotiation; they are criminal. Abusers are criminals, and even those we love should be dealt with as criminals.
Relationships can get messy, there’s no denying that. We should expect to have conflicts and disagreements. But human error has no right to extend into the abuse of the very people we claim to love. If you are a true friend, you will step in and take up the defense of the victim. Be that friend who says something, does something, and changes something.
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