To the Young Woman with Bruises
I had not intended to be 120 miles from home
Late on a Sunday night in an unfamiliar city
Sitting in my van with a Monster drink in my hand
Trying to wake up enough to drive
Back to my cozy bed.
I also did not expect to see a young woman: you
Standing there in the parking lot
Asking for gas money outside my window.
At first I said no.
I do not often give cash to strangers.
You silently turned and slowly walked away
It was then I saw the bruises and scrapes
On your bared back, and I knew.
“Hey! WAIT!” And you turned back to face me.
“Are you OK? Has someone hurt you?”
You nodded. Your boyfriend beat you again and again.
Broken ribs, broken glass, in and out of the hospital.
Three years you have been with him.
Gone back five times. And I thought,
Five times too many. Five times to hell.
You needed gas money to leave town. I gave you $20.
You asked for a hug. I wrapped my arms around you.
Then I rummaged around for bandages and salve.
I wished I could heal your wounded heart but I can’t.
I could only do my small part with love.
And I said to you, and I say again now:
“Do not go back! You are precious in God’s sight.
You deserve better. He is not worth it!”
And you wept: “I know. But I love him. I keep hoping…”
Oh no, sweet one, no. Your monster will not change.
If you keep going back, he will keep being cruel.
It is his permission to do as he wishes.
Why should he change if you come back for more?
This is not love. It is bondage.
It is far better to be alone than to be abused.
Do not go back. No matter what, do not go back.
There is a different life ahead of you,
A life of freedom and wholeness.
Reach out and walk forward with open eyes.
You can do this. I will help.
Last night my daughter missed her bus back to college because she had forgotten her motorcycle helmet on my dining room table. Her older sister offered to drive her the two hours but I knew she had studying to do, so I went instead. We took along an Ecuadorian lady who had also missed the bus and was hoping to get to the other station in time for a connection to her final destination. We didn’t make it in time, so after my daughter put on her gear and climbed onto her motorcycle, we followed her over to the pastor’s home where she lives. My new friend would wait there for her daughter to come get her and drive her to Alabama. She speaks very little English and I speak very little Spanish, but with a radiant smile she told me “Jesus is my life!” and our fellowship was sweet. We ate brownies and sweet tea, exchanged e-mail addresses, and after I was sure she was settled in comfortably, I left. By the time I stopped for my Monster drink on the way home, it was 11:30 PM. After talking to the young woman with bruises, it was past midnight. Exhausted, I eventually ended up pulling over at a rest stop to sleep for a while. I finally got back to my cozy bed at 3:45 AM and slept until noon. It was a crazy night-into-the-morning, but somehow, at each moment, I knew I was in the exact right place at the exact right time.
Most of all, I hope that this dear young woman finds safety, peace, and a new life.
A word to the rest of you: Open your eyes. Be aware. Don’t be afraid. Offer compassion, not judgment. You can make a difference.
Domestic Violence Hotline: (800)799-7233
Related posts on Watch the Shepherd
Articles on Other Web Sites
Basic Information for Victims and Survivors
The Psychology of Abusive Relationships
Grace and peace,