It was a typical Friday afternoon for me until a friend of mine came from her upstairs apartment asking me if I could get my dad to help her later in tonight. I wasn’t sure I knew what she was talking about until I realized that it was Friday and Friday meant that her parents would be fighting…again. There were two families who lived upstairs from our apartment and fighting played a huge role in their relationships and alcohol, drugs and money were characters.
This little girl of eight wanted me to ask my dad to help her because she knew what was coming and it did. We agreed that once she thought that the fighting would start she would send a signal to me by shaking together bottles that she had put rocks into, that would be our signal. At about 11pm that night I heard their voices grow louder and louder and finally the signal came and I knocked on my parents door asking my dad if he would go upstairs and help the neighbours? As he got ready I reminded him that he had a duty as a preacher. We went upstairs and it was a sad sight to see. Four young children and a baby less than a year old in her mother’s arm as a drunkard father held a kitchen knife in one hand and a bottle of local beer in another. The mother’s face was bloody but the worse to see was the look of fear on the faces of the children. After calming down the drunkard man and taking the knife away from him, we wanted to call the police, when the mother asked “how she would manage without him”. For many days and months and years after that it was the same thing. The cycle continued, drunk, fight, police called, apology made, police leave and then it all happens again.
Domestic violence affects everyone but most choose to keep quiet and tell themselves that it’s none of their business and in part they’re right, it’s not their business, it’s everyone’s business. It’s our business to keep other people safe from harm even if they’re strangers. I grew up on a tiny island and domestic violence accounts for at half of the murders reported each year. I tried my best to keep myself from making this personal though it is personal because if I made it personal I would call men who abuse women good for nothing cowards and we all know that good Christian girls like myself don’t ever use such language. I would also call ministers, health professionals, teachers, fellow students and every one else in the community who does not speak up against domestic abuse cowards but like I said good Christian girls don’t use that language. I would also say that those who stand by and watch are no better than the abusers themselves but that would be a mean thing to say and I would not want to hurt anyone’s feelings so I would not say that either. The other thing that I would want to say is that spiritual ministers who know of domestic abuse and violence taking place in homes and seek to do nothing about it just so that they can keep down the rate of divorce in their churches will have to answer to God for a great injustice but since situations like that never happen I would not say such a thing.
We all should do our best to educate ourselves and raise awareness about the dangers of domestic violence but we should even do more by standing up and speaking out against it. We should let women, men and children who are in domestic violence situations know that it is not their fault and that no one has the right to abuse them in any form because SILENCE CAN BE DEADLY.