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In the past four months, three people have lost their lives and three other people are in jail for murder. According to reports, there was suspected domestic violence involved in these murders. This post is not about blaming the victim, blaming the assailant or trying to figure out what happened. Instead, I want this to be an eye opener. If domestic violence was a factor in the deaths of these three people, two of which were men, we have a lot of work to do in Americus.

I have been trying to figure out how to word this post because it is a touchy subject. I don’t want to offend anyone and since I was not present when these situations took place, I cannot say what really happened. What I do know is that while some lost their lives and others are in jail, no one wins in this situation. Kids have lost parents, mothers have to bury their sons, fathers have to see their daughter in jail, friends, classmates, cousins, brothers and sisters are trying to come to grips with their new reality. Everyone has lost, so many people are hurting and this pain can run deep.

broken heart

Again, I wanted to say something but was unsure of what or how-until this morning. A friend of mine was bold enough to share her story. When I read it, I was floored. This was someone that I spent a great deal of time with years ago. We worked together, laughed together, partied together. As life would have it, we drifted apart, not because of anything bad but just because we went in different directions. Today on Facebook my friend shared her story of being in an abusive relationship. At this time, we weren’t as close as we used to be so I was unaware she was going through this. I do recall a time she came to my house and she told me her boyfriend was crazy. I took it to mean crazy in the sense of something we just say, not really thinking there was much to it.

In her post, my friend discussed her ordeal. Bruises, black eyes, tears, fear…these are some of the words she used in her post. Love was also another one. As I read her post, I felt the tears well up in my eyes because I just couldn’t believe she went through this. My breaking down point was when she described her decision to leave him. His reaction was to pour lighter fluid all over her with the intent of burning her alive. She begged and pleaded with him, told him everything he needed to hear in order to save her life. It took her awhile but she was finally able to get away from him. After work one day, she just left and saved herself.

On the outside, it’s easy to cast judgment and say what you would or wouldn’t do. It’s easy to say “Girl just leave” or “I bet no man will ever put his hands on me” when you’re not the one in it. I remember watching What’s love got to do with it and being floored that Tina Turner lived through such a tumultuous life. It wasn’t until I got older that I “understood” why she stayed: she said she knows what it’s like to have someone walk out on you, referencing her mother leaving her with her grandmother. My friend stated she stayed because of love. Some people stay for the kids. Some people stay because they don’t have anywhere else to go. Whatever the reason people chose to stay is not for us to judge because the reasons can run pretty deep.

The million dollar question is so how can we help? My friend stated she that while she loved him, she loved herself more. So how can we teach our sons and daughters what love is? How can we teach them that love shouldn’t cause physical, mental, or emotional hurt? How can we talk to our friends about getting out? Men, are you talking about this with your homeboys? Ladies, are we discussing this in between recapping Housewives? I completely get that you cannot help anyone that does not want to be helped. But are we at least trying? I’m glad that my friend shared her story today because I am confident someone needed to hear it. She and many others have stories of survival. Unfortunately, as we have seen recently, this isn’t the case for everyone. Also keep in mind that all abuse isn’t physical; mental, verbal and emotional abuse are also common. Seeing these types of abuse are much harder to see because there aren’t visible scars.

I am not sure of all the resources (safe houses, counselors, churches, etc.) available but if you know of any, please share them. Talk to your family and friends. Everyone may not listen but maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to reach at least one person.