You Can't Save Everybody (But Try Anyhow)
You Can't Save Everybody (But Try Anyhow)4 mins 73 4 mins 73
When it comes to domestic violence, I now realize that I can try to help somebody, but I can't save everybody. To hear her crying out to him "Get off me!" was too much. If I hadn't called the police and he had beaten her to death, how could I look at myself in the mirror knowing that I could have done something but didn’t? How could I look into the eyes of her five children without being brought to a reckoning for neglecting to make one damn phone call?
But I did call. And she knew I did. And she told the police that everything was okay. And after they left, she screamed “Bitch!” out into the empty breezeway of our building where her abuser had abused her. In an effort to protect me in case of retaliation, I went to my truck to take pictures of it in case she damaged it and to retrieve my mini Louisville Slugger for protection as I am well aware of the danger to my life due to an attempt to save hers.
From her balcony, she called me all kinds of stupid bitches. As I am writing this, I am surprised at how little I was bothered by the word. It used to fire me up and have me ready to fight, but I was calm. I didn't even call her a bitch in return. Instead, I told her I called the police because I cared.
Several months ago, she confided in me that she had allowed her recovering addict, abusive ex to move back in and she asked me if I thought she was stupid. I told her I didn't think she was stupid. I told her that I know that abusive relationships are tricky and that I would not judge her. I told her to take care of herself and her babies. However, I told her that if I ever knew that she or the kids were being harmed that I would most definitely call the police. And I did call the police. And it backfired.
She came out of her apartment to fight me. I put down my keys, phone, and Louisville Slugger. Of course, I defended myself but there was no need to use a stick in this situation. I simply gorilla-shoved her down the stairs to eliminate the threat. I was surprised by my own strength. Apart of me felt bad. After all, she's already been beaten by her boyfriend. She came looking for more though. That could have ended badly, and I'm glad it didn't. I'm not her enemy. She's not my enemy. She's someone who is struggling with co-dependency in an abusive relationship, and I'm someone who tried to help her. But she didn't want my help.
For the first time ever, the victim turned on ME. Even then, I pitied her. I worried about her children. How many times have they witnessed this? What impact has this violence had on their psyche? Have they been physically abused, too?
After listening to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez use her voice to address the mistreatment of women by men in public and private spaces, and how we give or don't give permission for this to continue when we do or don't speak up (in response to the disrespectful language used toward her by Rep. Ted Yoho earlier this week and his mansplaining after the fact), her words resonated with me more than they would have had I not experienced what I experienced last night/this morning. AOC helped affirm that I did the right thing. And I’d do it again. And again. And again.
AOC could have screamed and lost her cool. She could have accepted his piss poor "apology" and moved on. But she didn't. She stood there flat-footed with a calm yet passionate demeanor and spoke her peace. When she spoke, she spoke for ALL girls and women. She spoke to my neighbor. She spoke to me. She spoke to my mama. She spoke for many of you. And I thank her.
When she yielded, I cried like a baby and then I let it go. It's not in my hands. It never was.