She stops returning your calls. Her appearance changes slightly. Long sleeves replace t-shirts. Whenever you are out with your friend and her significant other, he is a perfect gentleman, almost overly interested in what you think and whether or not you are having a good time.
Whispers float around your dear friend like a dark cloud. No one is willing to say it to her face, yet everyone is thinking the same thing.
“He’s hitting her.”
“The next time we see her may be the last.”
Last weekend, I attended a fundraiser to support victims of domestic violence. The woman who coordinated the event was a survivor and a friend. Every time I speak with her, I know that her life is something she cherishes every day, and if she hadn’t spoken out, she may not have lived to help others and tell her story.
Victims of domestic abuse often suffer in silence. Their friends fear confronting them, worrying that the conversation could lead to the end of their friendship.
“An abuser is not going to hit you in front of your friends,” my friend, “Jane” said.
But when the smoke clears, the person suffering will know that they are no longer alone. Someone saw their tears, heard the pain in their voice, and wanted to help.
You may lose a friend, but they could gain their life back.
Jane hoped every day that someone would be her voice. “I used to pray that my neighbors would call the cops.”
The woman (or man) that is suffering in silence is someone’s child. They may be someone’s parent. Maybe they are your sibling or your co-worker. Perhaps, they are a neighbor you’ve uttered a few standard greetings to before and after work.
With support from friends and her own strength and courage, Jane found her way out of an abusive relationship. Other men and women still remain voiceless in fear.
“It’s everyone’s business to do something about it,” Jane said.
Stop turning a blind eye. Tell someone. Speak out.
If you are interested in donating gently used clothing, books, household items, or money to the Safe Haven Women’s Shelter through Heartland Family Services, please contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jen Schneider is a middle school teacher and mom to two children.
Read her blogs every Tuesday on momaha.com
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