I had just completed a lecture on domestic violence. I told the young women that they should never keep anyone in their lives who puts them down and calls them names. I also told them that if the person you love does not support your dreams and tells you that you will never accomplish them, then it is time to move on.
I told the young guys that love that is forced is not love at all, and that if you have to keep someone afraid of you to retain them, then you don’t have anything. If you have to beat someone to feel powerful, then you are a coward and weak, and one day, that woman is going to get tired of being hit, and she might just kill you. I also informed them of something I saw once on a poster: Kisses are not contracts. This means that we never own anyone.
I wanted my students to understand that they are too valuable to the universe to accept unrequited love. They are unique, one-of-a-kind masterpieces created by a loving God for a purpose and a calling. I asserted that someone who is physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually violent towards them does not love them. Also, someone who needs to know where you are every minute of the day is not being cute or protective, they are being possessive, and that person will hurt you, if you try to escape their control
I thought that I had been successful, as many of them looked like they heard me, nodding their heads and looking suitably convinced. Then a beautiful young woman stayed behind to speak to me. She told me that she had a child with her boyfriend, and that the guy regularly beat her, sometimes in front of the toddler, and she could not figure out what she was doing to “upset” him. She wanted me to tell her how to make him “happy,” so he would stop hurting her.
With tears in my eyes, I told her that she was not at fault and that she was doing nothing wrong to deserve the abuse. I said that she was too much of a jewel, a diamond, to stay and endure such pain. I told her that she was worth more than that.The first thing we needed to do was find her and her child a safe place to go, and then she could apply for a restraining order to keep him away.
Imagine my shock and pain when she told me that he loved her and that she would never leave him. She just wanted to know how to keep him satisfied, so that he would not hit her. I could not get her to see that someone who hits you does not love you at all; beatings are about power and control, not love.
I told her that I at first thought that my boyfriend was the answer to my prayers for someone to love me, as I was age 16, nearly 17, and had never heard anyone say that they loved me, not even my parents. But, I finally understood that daily beatings were not the kind of love that God would send me or anyone else, and that I had asked Him and received the courage to finally let it go.
As she looked at me, I realized that I was not reaching her. I could only pray that someday she would come to the realization that she deserved better. She was an adult, and as she already had one person controlling her life, I was not going to try to control her.
We must do a better job of teaching what unrequited love looks like. We must socialize our children to know their value and their worth, boys and girls, young men and young women. We can no longer depend on Disney and other media giants to teach what love supposedly looks like, because domestic violence is no fairy tale.
And, more importantly, let us teach our children and young adults, and any older adults who still need to learn, what real love is. I Corinthians 13:4-6 states, “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Let’s salvage lives, rescuing people by ensuring that every child is loved well! Parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, neighbors, church members, tell a child, no matter their age, boys and girls, TODAY that they are loved, they are special, and that they deserve the best people in their lives.