Silence: It Could Be Deadly….
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “friend”? Do you immediately think of that person or persons in your life that you can share your innermost thoughts and feelings with knowing that you will not be judged or betrayed? Just how far would you go for that friend? Is there anything you would or would not do for a true friend? Would you interfere in their love life if you believed the relationship they were in was harmful or possibly fatal for them?
I just previewed Lifetime TV's latest drama based on the real life drama of Drew Peterson. Untouchable, starring Rob Lowe, who I believe is at his “ickiest best” in this role, follows Drew Peterson, an Illinois police sergeant through two of his four marriages which end in death and disappearance. As the credits began to roll my mind began to fill with questions about friendships, family relationships and just what our role is in all of it. As friends and family members just how responsible are we for keeping our friends and loved ones safe from an abusive relationship?
Society tells us that sex is recreational, marriages are not meant to last forever and a little violence is often part of relationships, the truth can be stretched to meet our needs, and there is no happy ever after. We live in an “all about me” society often times stepping over the less fortunate just to get ourselves ahead. Looking the other way when someone is in trouble or facing adversity is much easier than getting involved in other people’s business. But what if it were you and you were being mistreated, abused or caught up in a damaging relationship that you could not get out of. Would you want your friends and family to help or leave you alone? Or perhaps help has been offered and rejected; should they keep trying because they know you are in trouble? Is an intervention necessary or should you be allowed to make your own decisions and let whatever happens happen even if that meant death. Just how far is too far before someone gets involved?
Posing the question on my Facebook wall about this topic I received various answers with one common thread. Abuse in any form is quite often covered up by the abused. One young friend shared her story of physical abuse that lasted for several years; she was barely 20 years old and lived with black eyes and bruises for almost two years. Admitting that she covered up the abuse because she thought her love could change her abusers behavior broke my heart. Even more surprising to me was the fact that she will still catch herself sticking up for this person now even though she was able to get out of the relationship and is now happily married with two children. Another friend confessed that she was both abused and abusive and that no matter what anyone tried to do she refused to do anything about it. One person referred to her abusive relationship as feeling as if she were caught in a deep hole with no way out.
Abuse is not okay and should never be covered up. However, abused women (and men) find themselves ashamed for allowing the abuse to begin. Feeling weak and helpless victims will “sugar coat” the situation convincing themselves and others that they can fix the problem by themselves. With our society portraying abuse, sexual promiscuity and self satisfaction, it is often times difficult for an abuse victim to reach out. More over abuse victims believe that they need their abuser to take care of them. Women with children often feel that they cannot provide for their children if they left the relationship so they stay and endure the abuse for the sake of their children. Unfortunately, the children begin to learn that the abuse is normal and may one day end up in the same situation as an adult, creating a never ending cycle.
How far would you go to save a friend or family member from an abusive man? Would you take the wait and see approach or would you intervene and try to convince them that they were in danger? Fearing for our own safety will often play a part in our decision to help or stay away. In the case of Stacy Peterson, the red flags were flying and some tried to help while others marveled at the fact that a much older man could manipulate and “have” any woman he wanted.
Watch “Untouchable: The Drew Peterson Story” on Lifetime, January 21 at 8pm et/pt …..it might just change your mind about getting involved and open your eyes to see what abuse looks like.