For my family, like many others, Easter brings family traditions, reflection, and appreciation. In broad strokes:
- Dyeing eggs (even in the pre-kid, early marriage years)
- Eating at home or out for brunch, plenty to eat
But a couple of years ago our family had an experience that became an unforgettable part of our Easter history. Driving home from my parents’ house at around 10pm, on a lightly used (maybe 1 car every 2-3 minutes) road, we spotted a woman lying in the grass, waving frantically and screaming for help.
We backed up, taking a cautious approach; for a moment we wondered whether the surreal scene was part of the type of set-up that turns up on the news from time to time, with others waiting in the bushes for an opportunity to rob ‘good Samaritans.’ We called 911, told the kids to stay put in the van, and got out to try to calm the woman down and figure out what type of help she needed. She insisted she could not move, but hysterical–and vaguely coherent–she told us how she had gotten there and we conveyed the details to the police dispatcher: a drunk boyfriend had been driving, had gotten angry with her (not for the first time), and had thrown her out of the car.
Once the police and paramedics arrived, my wife and I answered a few questions and we were quickly back on our way home. I have no idea what happened next for the victim lying in the grass. Did she press charges against her boyfriend? If so, did she see that process through? Or did she go back to him, accepting assurances that he was sorry, would never do anything like that again, would make it up to her, etc., etc., etc.
Our early elementary aged son had a few questions about the woman in the grass, but he was more interested in the police cars and fire trucks. But his middle and high school sisters were interested in talking about how she had gotten there and what would happen next. This became a conversation about domestic abuse, and the idea that they needed to make sure NO ONE would ever get a second chance to hit either of them within a relationship. We talked about how victims–often, but not always, women–often put up with abuse because they are more afraid of losing the relationship than of getting hurt. We talked about how staying safe must ALWAYS be a non-negotiable expectation when they started dating. We talked about how the woman we had helped might press charges, get a restraining order, and move on to a safer life.
Making the same drive home this past Sunday night, I glanced over and saw there was no one in lying in the grass; I wondered whether the woman who had been there on another Easter had taken care of herself in the two years since. But I also felt confident that my own girls had learned something critical about taking care of themselves for years to come.