Friday, October 24, 2014

Purple Daisies.....for Domestic Violence Awareness

I have struggled with writing this post. Let me warn you from the beginning -- this is not going to be pretty. It is important though. Because of that, I refuse to edit myself or attempt to wrap things up in a neat package.

Last week, I participated in a Facebook activity to replace the negativity often found there with images of beautiful flowers. Gerber daisies were chosen as my flower. The next post on my news feed was a purple ribbon, honoring the many women and children in our country who are victims of domestic violence. Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, I decided to combine the activities into a single post. Domestic violence has become a personal issue for my family in the last few years. My purple daisy bouquet is for my sister.

In 2009, my sister came forward with the awful truth that she had been the victim of domestic abuse for five years at the hands of her husband who she was now divorcing. In addition to the physical and emotional abuse Carlene suffered, her pain was heightened as she realized that the emotional abuse was also impacting her two young daughters.

The details of Carlene's ordeal is hers to tell. Truthfully, I'm confident that I only know a portion of the horror and suffering she endured at the hands of the monster she married. What I CAN address are my personal feelings as a family member who also had to deal with the repercussions of the violence she endured.

ANGER!!!! That one word sums up so much of my feelings. I was furious that a man professing Christianity could inflict the bruises that I photographed along my sister's back and arms. I despised that my nieces had witnessed the violence and lived in constant fear. I fumed as I learned that this arrogant idiot of wasted air attempted to convince people that my sister had inflicted the injuries on herself!

My anger turned to rage as my family had to take significant steps to ensure our personal safety as well as that of Carlene and the girls. The jerk's abuse continued as he called my mother at work, appeared at our various places of employment, and ultimately began living in the same apartment complex that Carlene settled in in order to continue contact and dominating her life.

As I heard the responses from some in the church to my sister's situation, I was floored. "You made a commitment for life and need to stay in the marriage and try to work things out."  "Jesus said to turn the other cheek."  "He's just going through a hard time. Things will get better eventually." I wondered which of these "insightful" people would have offered the same advice if they were living in constant fear. I definitely began to understand why so many victims say that they don't feel safe confiding in the faith community; with responses like the ones Carlene heard, no one would find comfort or safety there.

Even though my sister gained her freedom from her personal hell over five years ago, I still experience frustration that continues to stem from the abusive relationship. I despise watching my sister struggle financially to make ends meet because the A-hole has failed to pay child support as ordered by the court for at least four years. That leads to other frustrations with Tennessee Child Welfare for not monitoring the situation closely as well as with Carlene for not pressing the issue more. I nearly blow a gasket every time I hear my nieces complain about having to visit the man who provided the sperm that produced them (I'm sorry....he doesn't deserve to even be referred to as a biological father, in my opinion!); it would appear to a rational person that failure to fulfill a responsibility outlined in the divorce decree (e.g. monthly child support payments) would result in the loss of parental rights and visitation.

When I get incredibly frustrated and upset at the situation that my family finds itself in simply because one man could not appropriately manage his temper, I find myself fantasizing. I fantasize about the day that the state of Tennessee finally notices that child support has not been paid. I dream about the abuser finally spending time behind bars. I wonder what the reception for him will be as other inmates learn of the pain that was inflicted on a woman and innocent children at his hands. I'm not stupid enough to fantasize about inflicting the pain on the idiot myself.....but I wouldn't mind being a casual observer either!

As you can see, I have no use for this man that I consider the scum of the earth. He didn't just inflict pain on random people; he violently abused those I love. He made their home a prison. That caused me pain as well. No one should ever have to suffer at the hands of someone who promised "to love, honor, and cherish" them. Sounds like a big lie to me....

So don't placate me with terms about how I need to find forgiveness. I really don't want to hear it. All I want is to display these purple daisies as a sign to those who might be dealing with abuse in their own life that they are not alone and that there are some of us who refuse to remain silent any longer. It's time for the shame many of these victims face to come to an end and for us to place the guilt where it belongs....firmly on the shoulders of the abuser!

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