As a survivor of domestic violence, I have advocated not walking away from someone who is being abused but instead to do what you can to help. I have complained in my blog that the two people I turned to did not want to be involved. So now I find the shoe on the other foot and wonder if I should have done or should do more.
In order to help others through crisis situations, I have worked for and volunteered for Crisis Hotline. I am currently on hiatus from Crisis Textline in order to determine where I want to go from here. Assisting domestic violence victims via the Hotline and Textline was something I had the ability to do with no residual affect, becoming personally involved is not in my bag of tricks.
I recently met a young woman that I thought I might enjoy having lunch with from time to time so we exchanged phone numbers and set up a lunch date. Upon arrival at the agreed upon restaurant, I found that she was not there.
I texted that I was at the restaurant and soon thereafter received an apologetic phone call from her telling me that she couldn’t make it. She said she didn’t want anyone to know but that she could tell me that her boyfriend had beat her up the night before and one side of her face was badly bruised. I felt a responsibility to offer emotional support so I offered my strength, hope and experience. When she said that she had never been beat before this badly, I asked if it was a pattern and she said it wasn’t. Yet, several times she repeated that she had never been beat like that before.
She also became confused about where her purse was and offering that she had severalinstances of head trauma from sports and recreational accidents. She said she had PTSD from being raped as a child. In the beginning I asked if she wanted to accompany me on my errands but she claimed she was too embarrassed. I suggested that she might need her family’s support but she said she had disappointed them too many times. She said she might take her dog and go to a motel for the night and it didn’t occur to me that she might be hoping that I would offer to have her stay at my house. As the conversation proceeded, I saw more and more red flags warning me that I needed to distance myself. She suggested we could have lunch at a restaurant in her apartment complex and I pled off saying I didn’t know where it was though it wouldn’t have been hard to find since I knew where the complex was located. She questioned that I didn’t know where it was and I became exasperated and insisted that I didn’t.
Eventually, I said though I hated to I had to go because I needed to get my errandscompleted and told her to call me later so I would know she was okay. She agreed insolently and we ended the call. I thought a lot about the situation and what I would do if I heard from her again. I knew in my heart that I did not want to get any more involved but on the flip side, I felt a responsibility to help. For the next few days I found that the situation was a trigger for me. I started having disturbing thoughts and feeling trapped.
I decided pretty quickly that I had to be honest and let her know that having a friendship with her would not work for me. When I was in counseling for the domestic violence I was told that I needed to cut ties with my ex and any and all mutual ties through others. It was like they were a combination of hook and trigger. My trauma was triggered by this encounter to the point where I decided to go back into counseling.