Today I was sat tweeting in Costa while my phone charged and suddenly I heard a woman’s voice slightly raised on the table next to me. I turned to see a man with his back to me and a woman on the other side of the table, talking to him,
“You’ve hit me before! What you want me to stop talking so loud?! Don’t you think people should know what you’ve done?”
Suddenly my entire attention became focused on the table next to me and the interaction of the two people sitting there. What could I do? How could I let this woman know that there’s help out there? That what he’s doing to her is wrong? I decided to wait, and pray for an opportunity to speak to her.
And as I sat there waiting and praying, all I could do was listen to the conversation unfolding next to me.
Her: “Why do you keep doing this to me? You said you’d stop drinking! You keep doing all these things to me”
Him: “I came here expecting you were going to apologise to me, and you’re trying to make it all my fault!”
He kept employing the “quiet voice” tactic; keeping his voice low, so she sounds like a hysterical woman to everyone else, while he whispers offensive names and other nasty things under his breath.
Her: “I just want to fix things, I know it’s not always you, it is partly me…”
Him: “You’re always making it worse, why do you make it worse…?!”
I sat there, praying and asking others on twitter to pray, that I would have the opportunity to speak to her. At one point she got up, ready to leave, but he convinced her to sit back down. I packed up my bag and wrote a note with my name, email, address, phone number and the details of Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?”
She was so articulate and so good at putting across her point. And yet he constantly undermined her.
So I waited and prayed and prayed and waited. And eventually she stood up to leave. He stayed sat down and she walked away, I stood up and gave her my note and told her I might be able to help, that she could contact me. The man stayed sat down and didn’t follow her so I walked down the stairs and said to her,
“I work with domestic abuse, I might be able to help. My ex-husband was abusive…I’ve written down a book that might help you on that note.”
She looked at me and quickly said, “Oh no! It’s not domestic abuse! It’s just unresolved issues, that’s all!” Then she hurried off.
I walked towards my train, heartbroken again by the reality of how men can break women so totally, without consequence or challenge. Painfully aware of how I once was a woman who refused to accept my ex-husband was abusive. The sadness I felt was heavy and consuming.
And yet, even in that pain and sadness, I praised God that I was able to give her some information. That an opportunity was provided and just maybe this opportunity will enable the woman to move forward. I will continue to believe there is hope, that she can be restored and freed.
I got home, my heart still heavy, and began to read with hope again rising the story of how Carl Beech and Dean Gray had challenged an abusive man on the underground; I was reminded that there are men and women across the UK and beyond challenging violence against women, bringing freedom and hope to women and children. If each one of us sees every opportunity as a chance to make a difference, we will do just that. If each one of us doesn’t just stand by when we hear, see or learn of abuse and violence, we will make a difference!
I happened to get a text from a friend just now and even though she didn’t know about this situation she had sent me the following verse:
“But thanks be to God who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, therefore my beloved be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” [1 Corinthians 15:57-58]
If you pray, please do pray for the woman I met today, let her and any children she has find hope and freedom and for the man who is choosing to continue abusing her to be held accountable and challenged, knowing that nothing we do for God is in vain!