I have had a post percolating in my head for a week or so now because I saw a promotion for a General Hospital storyline that deals with abusive relationships in teens. The levels of violence between young couples is escalating at alarming rates. The statistics are unsettling enough that I don’t want to go into them here but should you want more information about teens and abuse, you can start here.
While my towels are not meant for the younger set, the sentiment behind them is meant for everyone – girls, boys, women, and men. This month’s mantra: “Strength. Compassion. Peace.” applies to everyone and taking the first step to seek help if you are in abusive relationship is strength personified.
I was sadly reminded of this over the weekend when I witnessed a very upsetting event in the car behind me. It was the screeching of tires that first got my attention but it was the man swerving his car violently on purpose while yelling at the young woman next to him that had me sick to my stomach.
We arrived at the red light at the same time and her window was cracked open just slightly. While I couldn’t hear the exact words, I was wincing in anticipation because his anger was palpable even a car-length away. I sat there not knowing what I could do to help this woman. So when the light turned green, I continued driving to my destination while also keeping an eye on his car both to keep myself safe, but also to see if what I had seen was a momentary exchange as opposed to a pattern of behavior.
Unfortunately, he continued to drive enraged; continued to apply the breaks and shake the car in an effort to intimidate this woman while he yelled at her. He was far enough behind me, however, that I couldn’t get a read on his license plate. At the next light, I needed to turn and didn’t know which direction he intended to go – but when I saw him pull into the turn lane, I vowed to slow down and get the plate if he ran what would be a red light by the time he got to it, which he did. And because of his erratic driving, he gave me a clear view of his license plate which I repeated to myself over and over again until I could pull over, write it down, and call 911.
He turned down a residential street and I pulled over and dialed 911 while I sat there shaking, trying not to think of how much worse his behavior would get now that they weren’t on a main thoroughfare.
If just witnessing this event had me shaking, I can only imagine how frightened and helpless this young woman felt. I was, and still am, haunted by the fact that many people talk about how the car is a great place to get your kids talking to you about difficult topics because you don’t have to look at each other, and they are a captive audience. To see that idea turned on its head is disturbing. This woman was a captive audience – to his anger, to his recklessness, and to whatever else he needed to do to release his rage.
While I don’t know if the police were able to find him, I am hopeful that this woman finds the strength to take care of herself and anyone else in her family who might fall prey to this man. Should she find that strength, I am confident that she will find compassion from those ready to assist her, and only then will she find peace.
If you are a victim of abuse, the below are just several organizations able to help you: