Saturday, June 21, 2008

Conversations with Strangers

For the second or third time in the last few weeks, I have passed a badly bruised young, Anglo woman wearing a full arm sleeve/cast. Each time my eyes fall upon her blue marks and cuts, I'm thrown off guard. This time as the victim passed, another woman walking along side me turned to me in dismay at what she just witnessed. We instantly started to surmise that what we saw was not the result of a car accident but something domestic in nature.

The witness and I began analyzing the types of bruises, their location on the upper body, and the arm cast worn by the victim. We saw ourselves in the bruises and spoke of how so many women fear walking away. It was all too familiar; but we had picked ourselves up and moved on. It was survival, after all.

Then the witness told me of how she intervened on behalf of her nephew's wife who had been abused by the woman's family member. She described how the victim could not speak for herself while in the hospital, after her husband tore out his wife's hair; how the abuser made excuses for injuries incurred by the wife. As it turned out, the witness, who was from Africa, was a nurse.

What to do? Are we to be silent witnesses to each others' pain and suffering?

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