Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lessons About Abuse

I saw a bumper sticker today that brought back memories. It said something like, "Abuse is never okay". I've been thinking about a woman I met some years back. I was the Relief Society president, and she had recently moved in to our Ward. I visited her to get to know her a little better. She told me that her husband (who was from another country) was abusive to her. I talked to her about getting a plan together so that she could escape if needed. I took her to a member's house that lived nearby so that she could know where she could go to call the police if needed. (He had often ripped the phone out of the wall) She was most upset that her two little girls saw the way he treated her, and she didn't want them to grow up thinking that abuse is normal for women. I talked to her about leaving him, but she was afraid she couldn't get custody of her children. She had gotten restraining orders against him, but she always allowed him to come back. I really wanted to help her. I really feared that eventually he would kill her.

I called a women's shelter in Sacramento to see if they could help her. They asked me questions and said they did have an opening. Then they asked if she had a restraining order against him. I told them she was still living in the house with him. They said, "Look, this shelter is for women who are serious about leaving. As long as she keeps letting him come back, she isn't serious about leaving." They told me to call back when she was serious about leaving him.

One night in the middle of the night she called me. She and her sister and daughters were at a phone booth, hiding in the dark. They had seen his car driving up and down the street looking for him, and asked if I could come get them. This woman was very afraid of what he would do when he caught her. I took my husband and we went down town and picked them up. I let them stay at my house for the night. I told her not answer his phone calls, and not tell him where she was. Neither she nor her sister could sleep that night. My in-laws were visiting, and they said that all throughout the night they could hear them quietly singing church hymns.

In the morning she told me that she had told him she was at my house, and that she would be coming home that morning. I was so upset at her for giving away this hiding place. I wanted her to have a safe place to come if she ever needed a place to stay. But she couldn't resist his charm, nor his anger. She was too afraid not to answer his questions, even though he had no idea where she was.

I called a man in our Ward who is very tall, and he and his tall son both came with me to take her home. Her husband was waiting. These two tall men were very intimidating, I'm sure, but in reality, there never were two more gentle giants. They didn't want to hurt anyone, they just wanted to help this woman make a peaceful transition back in to her home.

Shortly after this happened, her husband moved her away. I think he recognized that she had alot of support in the church. He didn't want to lose the control that he had. I tried to find a forwarding address for her, but couldn't. I have always wondered what happened to her. I often wonder if she is dead.


Ramana Rajgopaul said...

I too have had some experiences like yours. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the victims usually do not want badly enough to get out of the abusive relationship. I am not a psychologist but, I understand that this is fairly common and there is little that civilized society can do to help them.

Nene said...

That is so sad! I wonder if she is dead too. Sheesh!