Domestic Violence: We accept the love we think we deserve

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)

 

 

What unconditional love is.

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Unconditional love is when you can’t wait to tell your best friend that you’ve been accepted to the college of your dreams that’s 3000 miles away and instead of bitching you out and throwing a fit because they are jealous or pissed or whatever; they embrace you and say “I’m proud of you, and I knew you could do it!”

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Unconditional love is when you come home from an extremely shitty day and all you want to do is curl up in a ball and play video games or watch your favorite movie that you could play over and over again and never get tired of. But your parent comes into your room and asks why you slammed the door and you don’t want to explain yourself because you’d rather just not face another day so you shrug your shoulders, and instead of walking away because you are giving them the silent treatment, they wrap their arms around you and silently say, I love you.

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Unconditional love is when you’re playing an intense game of cowboys and indians, rough housing around, and your mom keeps telling you and your friends to stop being so rambunctious but you’re just too damn excited that you even have friends, so you want to impress them by playing their favorite game, and it’s too cold outside so you’re inside…still making too much noise and running around until you crash into the wall where your mother’s once hanging shelf falls to the ground and the tea set that sat perfectly still on the shelf before, is now shattered into millions of tiny little pieces. And you look into your mother’s eyes, certain she is going to explode, because it was her favorite tea set that her grandmother gave her, and her grandpa built the shelf with his bear hands. And you know how much it means to her. And surprisingly she says, “Thank God you’re okay.” And you realize that she loves you far beyond any material items.

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Unconditional love is when you go to school wearing your favorite rainbow colored belt and you tuck your shirt in on the side just enough for everyone to get a glimpse of your stylish new accessory and further down the hall you hear a familiar voice that brings a kind of fear to your memory, who yells out “Faggot!” and points to your once cool, and now shameful article of clothing, and you immediatly cover your belt with your shirt and pull your pants up just enough that the belt can’t be seen and you hide in the bathroom crying because you thought your belt was the coolest thing ever. And because that word killed your pride just enough to cause you to hide in the bathroom stall until next period. And then you hear a voice and you stop crying because you don’t want anyone to know how much you’re hurting and then the voice says, “I really like your belt.” And suddenly the word faggot and the tears disappear and you leave the stall where you see a complete stranger standing next to the sinks. And you tuck in your shirt so that entire belt can be seen and say, “Thanks.”

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Unconditional love is when the condom breaks and you don’t have enough money to buy the “Plan B” pill and you are horrified to tell anyone, because you don’t want them to think you’re a slut or whore or whatever, so you wait. You wait too long to say anything and then suddenly you’re throwing up everything you ate for breakfast one morning and you go to the store to buy a pregnancy test and you can’t wait any longer to know the truth so you go to closest bathroom and you pee on the stick and you wait two painful minutes until you see the plus sign, clear as day, and you start to cry because you have no idea what the hell you’re going to do. And so you tell your boyfriend, and he says he’s not ready to be a father and you beg him to stay, and he won’t. And so you drive 2 hours with the little money you have left to knock on your parents door. And your parents ask you why your eyes are so puffy and you don’t tell them it’s because you’ve been bawling for that last 45 minutes. And you sit them down to tell them you’re pregnant expecting them to scream and throw something at you, but instead they take your hands and look into your puffy swollen eyes and say, “It’s going to be okay. We’re going to figure this out.” And you sigh, because that’s all you needed to hear.

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Unconditional love is when you feel completely alone in the world. When you’d rather just die because the alternative seems too difficult to bear and you don’t go to school for days. And no one comes to see you which reassures you that no one will miss you when you’re gone. And your mom is too high to notice the constant frown on your face. And your dad is in jail and probably always will be. And so you go outside on a rainy day and you walk down to the lake thinking that you’ll just drown yourself. Because it’s that easy. And you walk past your neighbor’s house that you’ve talked to like 2 times and you think about knocking on their door, but then you realize you don’t want to burden them. And so you keep walking. And you’re 10 feet from the lake where you could be gone in seconds. And you hear a voice behind you. “Are you going for a swim? I’ll go with you!” And you turn around and it’s your neighbor. And instead of dying, you go swimming.

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Unconditional love is when you visit a family member and they open their door before you can even knock and hug you until your bones no longer ache and they feed you until your stomach no longer growls and they sing silly songs with you and they watch your favorite movies. And before you can even ask them for a reminder of where their bathroom is, they give you a tour of the house. And they tell you it’s so good to see you. And they give you a blanket when you’re chilly. And they let you wear their slippers. And they make you a cup of tea. And they play cards with you and laugh in your face because they beat you twice, but you don’t care — because they bought you pizza with all your favorite toppings. And chocolate because they say they can’t live without it, but really it’s because you wanted some. And they joke around and burp and sometimes even fart. Because they are so comfortable with you. And when you need to cry, they listen. And when you need to complain they look you in the eyes and nod their head. And when you’ve talked so much and you can’t talk anymore they offer some advice. And when there is nothing left to say or do. They hold you. And they give you a bed to sleep on. And permission to be yourself. And you don’t hesitate to ask or do anything, because you know they wouldn’t want you to.

Unconditional love is exactly that. It’s unconditional. There is no ifs, ands or buts. It’s taking time to take a step back and evaluate a situation and think before you act. And realizing the most important things to do and say. It’s showing and saying I love you. And there is always room for you. And there is nothing they could do or say that would make them not love you.

Thanks for hearing me out.

(I don’t own any of the photos)