There’s something about being hurt that makes us a little harder. A little bitter. A little prouder. And a lot less willing to accept help when we need it the most.
Working in the hospitality field I’ve seen many people come in under circumstances dealing with domestic violence. I’m always a little more sensitive when someone informs me of a not-so-good situation going on at home. If ever I see a license with an address in the same town where I work, I often don’t ask the question of what brings them here. Because when I do, I usually get the blunt truth of someone dealing with domestic violence, silence, or an abundance of tears.
I’m not afraid to talk about domestic violence. I only avoid it to cause less stress or humiliation or obligation for someone who is faced with it. I’m a stranger to them. A nice stranger. But a stranger nonetheless. And who am I to intervene? Who am I to ask questions? Or be anything but someone who helps them escape, if only for a little while.
But today was different. A women came in with the biggest frown I’ve ever seen and I could tell right away whatever she was about to say was not good. I suspected she was unhappy and was quite possibly ready to complain about her stay or something along those lines. But instead, she asked for the cheapest room. I informed her of our prices and she was eager to get a room. At this time of the day it’s not quite 9 AM. We had an almost full house the night before. I inform her that check in time is around 3 PM and she can certainly make a reservation and come back once we can confirm a clean room for her.
She then gets irritated and informs me that she is dealing with a domestic violence issue and she can’t very well live in her car. I apologize automatically. It’s never fun to hear when someone is in between a rock and a hard place.
Our policy is to charge a full day charge on top of the nightly charge if ever someone wants to check in before 11 AM. We rarely have those kinds of people, but when we do, we have to stick to those rates. I informed her of our policy.
She said, “Are you kidding me? I’ll just go live in my car.” I said I could possibly talk to my manager, and she said “Oh yeah, how long will that take?” She started to storm off and I mentioned CAPSA. It’s a shelter in town for women in her position. She gasped and said, “I’m not pathetic”, and proceeded to slam her car door and race away.
I clearly offended her. But that encounter left me confused and shaken up. I was doing my best to abide by my policies and extend to her services that might work in her favor. If she had stuck around a little longer I could have called my manager about her situation and possibly worked something out; however, she left me little to no room to extend my hand.
I know it’s not my job to help people who don’t want to help themselves. I know she was looking for a way out, and I applaud her for that. I know she was dealing with stresses I have no idea about. I know she needed help. But I’m not sure she wanted it. Maybe I shouldn’t make assumptions. And I’m certain that psychology has a lot to say with how she reacted to the whole situation. I’m certain that it’s much deeper than I realize. But in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel sad and angry at the same time.
I wanted to help her, that I’m sure. But she broke my spirit slightly, because she rejected it. And I don’t know very many people in that situation who would easily walk away from the help they so desperately need. And maybe I’m in the wrong here to try and analyze such a heavy matter.
I don’t consider her rude. In any other situation her actions would appear that way. And I’m not going to lose sleep over this, but I can’t help but think she’ll go back to the way things were because she see’s domestic violence shelters for people who are “pathetic” when in reality I see them as places where the strongest people reside.
This post is not to demean anyone in a domestic violence situation. It is to bring awareness to those who are afraid to reach out to shelters, because they see them as “pathetic” or for the helpless, or weak. They are the complete opposite. They are there to lift people up after they have been broken down for so long. And it is to help them see a healthy perspective again. And they are there to protect and provide for people who are in desperate need. Or just seeking to find peace of mind.
I’m not sure I could have done anything different for this particular person, but I will always remain an advocate for those suffering with domestic abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, etc. And I will always extend a hand out to them. But ultimately it’s up to them to take my hand. And that’s the hardest part.
If you or someone you know is dealing with any kind of abuse, I encourage you to seek and accept help. It’s out there. I promise you, you’re not alone.
NATIONAL DOMESTIC ABUSE HOTLINE: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233
NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)