By Debbie Moore-Black, RN
I treat myself out to that same restaurant for breakfast like once or twice a month.
And there she is again. The same waitress. With those same sad eyes.
She knows my name but I don’t know hers.
Sometimes she has a bruise on her forehead or bruises up and down her arm. I can see through her makeup.
My heart bleeds. Because even though I don’t know her… I know her.
It’s pure speculation…. But The signs scream out.
The withdrawn downcast eyes that are filled with sadness. The partial smile that can barely do so. And the telltale bruises.
Usually physical abuse goes hand in hand with verbal abuse. That slow seeping of degrading, disrespectful gestures and words. That constant verbal abuse that tells you you’re worthless. You’re nothing without him.
I know the signs well.
When you feel so trapped. No way to climb out. Stuck. And you rationalize and pretend everything is fine. And then you blame yourself for being an unworthy person.
The nurse in me wants to hug her tight.
I want to scream and shout: “Get out. Find safety. Find your self worth.”
Nobody ever deserves to be treated this way.
I finally got my freedom. But it takes years to shed the abuse. It comes back to you in flickers when you least expect it.
There is help out there. Now more than ever.
Get out is an easy term but carries so much baggage.
But it can be done.
Remember that song in kindergarten or Bible school? “This little light of mine… I’m gonna let it shine”
It’s there. That light. I promise.
I tip her well. Hoping for a minute of happiness for her. And I finally ask her what her name is.
Alina. She says.
I wish her a wonderful day and thank her.
I’ll keep her in my prayers. Prayers for safety and love and peace.
My eyes well up. As I get in my car, I look up her name.
Alina. Greek origin. That means “light.”
Please reach out.
There is help out there.
Call: National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233