The day before I flew back to the U.S., a friend, I will call her Debbie, told me about a young woman who is being beaten by her husband. One of the most severe beatings had happened in public and no one had stepped in to help her. The situation has become so bad that Debbie sequestered money so that the young woman could access it if she needs to flee. I was dismayed because I knew this young woman and if I had known earlier, I would have tried to see if there was something I could have done to intervene.
The question becomes how do I help when I am miles away and come from a different cultural perspective? A perspective that promotes women are equal to men and should have the same rights and that a man has no right to abuse a woman and for that matter, a woman has no right to abuse a man. I believe that community members should be willing to stand up when they see abuse, especially the Christian community.
It breaks my heart that this young woman is a Christian and supposedly her husband is also. It has become apparent that fellow Christians know she is being beaten, yet are not willing to say or do anything. This is one of the times when I think it is appropriate to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Can you imagine Jesus standing there as a woman gets beat and saying this is none of my business?
As much as I want to jump right in and do something, you have to be careful because your actions can make the situation worse or even deadly. So I e-mailed Debbie and asked permission to write the Christian organization, with which the victim is affiliated, and let them know what is happening. Debbie felt this was not the best time to e-mail the organization based on the response from the victim. The young woman believes it probably wouldn’t do any good because more than likely the local organization’s administration would see it as a family matter and therefore would not intervene. And an intervention might put the organization in an awkward situation, which could be harmful for them and their families. And it probably would make things worse for the young woman.
When I received that reply, part of me wanted to jump up and yell – PATHETIC – DOESN’T ANYONE HAVE A BACKBONE??? As Christians aren’t we called to take risk and standup for the poor and oppressed? (And let’s not kid ourselves the same thing happens to women in the West, it just isn’t as overt.)
However I know this is an over reaction because this might not be the organizations response at all, but the perception of the victim based on what normally happens in her culture.
What have I decided to do? Out of respect for this young woman’s request and concern for her well being, I am going to wait a month or two and then I will write to the organization about setting up a future policy to help women who find themselves in this situation. By this time, the young woman will no longer be affiliated. I am hoping when I write that the young woman’s assumption is wrong. Instead, she and others will find that this Christian organization will be a force in the community promoting equality and safety for women.
I will continue to pray that this young woman will be able to get the help that she needs and will keep in touch with Debbie. I have to be realistic and understand that the only other way I might be able to help from such a distance is financially. However, in the back of my mind I keep having this niggling thought – why aren’t you doing more Vicki? Is it true there is nothing more you can do or don’t you have a backbone?
What is a Think Through? it is an idiom that conveys the meaning of carefully considering possibilities and outcomes of a situation.
Today’s Think Through: What would you do if you were in this situation? Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated?