I struggled with a title for this. By necessity I am changing many details and omiting others altogether. Yet I’m not altering anything important to the message of the story, I’m just making sure that Z doesn’t have to worry that this would ever get back to an abuser.
I don’t know what I had imagined an abuse victim to look like, but nothing like this rather good looking brunette who I met in the park one day. We got to talking and we talked quite a bit and decided to meet again a few days later for a long walk for exercise.
Z showed up for exercise and was wearing moderately short shorts and I noticed a long bruise on the outside of her thigh. It was dark purple, so I knew it was recent. She saw me looking and told me that she was clumsy, and in my head bells are going off. For one thing, that’s a weird place to get a bruise. Even the eventual story I heard, falling off a short step stool just didn’t cut it. A flat fall would probably have mostly bruised her forearm and hip, her thigh would have been somewhat protected.
We agreed that we enjoyed walking together and decided that we’d get together the following weekend for another walk. But when I contacted Z that Saturday she wasn’t well, and then a couple days later she said she had finally gotten a dislocation addressed. No real explanation. Now I really think something odd is going on, I tell her that I’m concerned and she says she’s just clumsy. I do what I can, I leave her my number and tell her I’ll listen if she wants.
My mind bothered me, I knew I couldn’t fix it, but it bothered me to do nothing also.
I did reach back out with a text message and asked questions about the injuries and the stories started getting a little more tangled and I pressed. For all that I was told that she didn’t want saving, that it wasn’t a call to action. So I promised to listen and to not violate her integrity.
I don’t know what one can really do. You know that abuse victims see doctors all the time. Every doctor’s visit now includes an obligatory are you safe at home question. My flip response has always been that I haven’t beaten myself up just yet. I’m not sure I can be so flip anymore.
It hurts to watch another person in pain and know there is nothing they will accept for help. Yet I’ve been on this path as have so many others. It doesn’t matter what is drawing us down the path. For some it is addiction, for others depression, for her it’s domestic violence. The only thing I can say for sure is that many people, and I count myself among them, have to reach the bottom before climbing back up.
I hope that sometime in the future Z will send me an SMS to tell me that she called the police and had the bastard arrested, or at least that she left him and is safe. In the meantime I’ll do what I can and listen.