Every year this time we are made aware of the devastating reality behind domestic abuse as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
As a publisher, I read many many stories, and then publish some of those stories on this topic in hopes that sharing a true story of survival will empower another woman to escape her living hell to save herself and her children. These stories break my heart. I can’t imagine the fear of living in fear within the safety confines of a home. Instead home becomes a hidden world of beatings, emotional abuse and financial manipulations.
This year, I have the privilege of having a new friend. This friend, a bright, energetic and pleasant woman, recently escaped an abusive marriage with her two kids to start over with absolutely nothing but what would fit in her vehicle. After hearing her first-hand accounts of her life, I can see the courage it took for her to move away. I leave our times together with a sliver of guilt that I am going home to a peaceful house with a peaceful husband.
I suspect it’s a little like survivor’s guilt because I don’t feel comfortable telling her how lucky and blessed I am to have a loving husband who would never hit me. That our son has never known a moment of fear like her son has.
I can’t help but take that knowledge to generate a little more gratitude at home. Several times this month, I have looked at my husband and felt an overwhelming urge to jump on him and shower him with kisses or to drop to my knees and thank God that my son and I live a peaceful life with this man.
We watched a local TV special on domestic violence together. It’s gut wrenching to hear the stories. As a member of the healthy family advocacy community, I appreciated their awareness effort. But as a married woman, I deeply appreciated the man sitting next to me.
I looked at him and said softly, “Thank you baby. Thank you for being the man that you are and for giving us a safe home to live in.”
I HAD NEVER SAID THAT BEFORE. Yikes!! It’s not that I take him for granted, but I had never articulated to him that I know we live with a good man and know that others don’t. It’s a given in our family, but it’s not a given in our society.
So today I took that a step further. Taking a quiet morning moment with my son, I said to him, “Isn’t it nice that we can wake up and be happy in a quiet, peaceful house?”
We continued to talk about what it means to have a daddy who works hard and loves us. One who comes home everyday and spends his time with us and makes us laugh. One that gives hugs and never hurts us. My son is aware enough to know that not everyone lives that way and we talked about that, too.
“You know what? Someday it’s going to be your responsibility to be a husband and a dad who takes care of his family and gives them a happy, peaceful home to live in. And somewhere in the world, there is a little girl who is going to be so blessed to have you as her husband because you are so full of love and compassion.”
“I know mom, but there are just so many girls to choose from,” he says.
I let out a heavy sigh, coming from that place that knows the girls of all types are going to swarm him. So my work as his wise mother has only just begun. But we are building trust now and I pray that it continues this way.
We hugged and he went on his happy way as he does every day. I sat immersed in a warm feeling of joy, but it was mixed with my knowledge of the pain others endure. I got to thinking about how we talk in the social service world about “breaking the cycle of abuse” and about the many resources that are placed there. Rightly so.
But I couldn’t help but wonder why we don’t do more to lift up and publicize the dads who don’t hit and hurt their families. Like mine. The humble high school teacher who lifts up his kids at school every day and sets a good example there and at home for his own son. The husband who has never looked at me sideways for being an entrepreneur whose passion is to inspire families to be happy and healthy through publishing. It’s not the road to wealth to be sure, but he is overall okay with that because we have purpose and a house full of love.
Perhaps we should talk more about “continuing the cycle of love” from dad to son through the generations. Perhaps if more women talked openly about how loyal and appreciative they are to the men who are devoted to their families. OK, perhaps more women NEED to be more genuinely appreciative of these men, and reward them for their good behavior with words of praise privately and publicly. We know our kids need to be praised for their good behavior in order for it to continue.
So how many Facebook posts do we see from women praising their husbands? Frankly, I know more about people’s cute pets than I do their devoted husbands. Social media can be a great place to set an example for others. To show the benefits of having a house full of love led by a man who is doing it right. Maybe we can inspire more women to aspire to this lifestyle as their goal, especially if they didn’t grow up that way.
Admittedly it’s a challenge to say, “Live like me.” So just stick to being sincere and talking about how grateful you are to live the life you have.
And if you don’t live that kind of life, I encourage you to dig deep and find out why there isn’t peace and love in your home. It always boils down to selfishness and the condition of hearts. In our house, we derive our love from our families of origin, but mostly we are infused with love by intimately knowing it’s original source, the God who sent his son Jesus to show us the way of true love.