I have spent many hours talking to people about domestic and sexual violence, advising they try not to pass judgement when someone discloses or push them to take actions that they are not ready to take. I tell them how important it is to let the person who was impacted make the decisions for themselves and regain the power that was taken from them.
Well, I learned firsthand recently how difficult that is to do when the person who has been hurt is someone you love — in this case one of my closest friends.
The details of the story are not important. Suffice to say, violence and abuse was perpetrated and the criminal justice system was involved. And this is where I fell down — hard.
Rather than listen, I lectured. Rather than understand, I vented my anger. Rather than just support my friend, I got frustrated with the direction they were heading and the decisions they were making.
Until…I realized what I was doing — and instead of making it about me and what I wanted, I started to really explore what my friend wanted and what would be best for them.
For my friend, closure was not about punishment, but about feeling heard and being free to move on. It was about finding peace.
For me, it was about learning to practice what I preach — and how difficult it is to put what you think is right aside when a person you care about has been hurt.
At their core, domestic and sexual violence are about one person exerting power and control over another. A key part of healing is regaining that agency over your life and making your own decisions — even if they are not the ones family and friends want you to make.
I am still processing how I reacted to the situation and have learned a lot over the last few months — most importantly: the path to healing is different for everyone — and is not about me or what I want.
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