Take Heed

So often I have seen abusive men in the news. Either they’re getting away with it, or they’re on trial for it. Rape, murder, domestic violence, on and on, all the time, scrolling through the days of my life. When I see these things, I become angry and I become afraid. I don’t want to walk down the wrong alley and end up a victim. Seeing men be monsters makes me afraid to be.

This week the Depp-Heard trial is in full swing, and the “typical” roles are reversed. Amber Heard is the monster. The lawyers have tried to shift the focus to Depp’s drinking or drug use, as if there is some valid reason to be hit, to be treated without decency by your spouse. There is audio of Heard telling Depp she didn’t punch him, she just slapped him, and it didn’t hurt and he’s just being a baby about it. It didn’t upset her, so why did it upset him? Hearing a woman be the monster is terrifying. I have always known men are victims too, and that it is far less reported than women, which is already underreported. But to see one, caught, unashamed and dangerous, is terrifying.

I guess my point is that monster-hood does not discriminate between the sexes. Of course it doesn’t. But seeing women be monsters makes me more aware of my own skin. What do I think is okay? When do I fly to defend my indefensible actions? How often do I act out of selfishness instead of selflessness? I am not saying someone can just “accidentally” hit someone else and oops, didn’t realize that was abuse. What I am saying is consider carefully your words, your intentions, your actions. Don’t assume you’re free from mistakes or causing pain, but keep an open heart to correction and truth, even if it hurts. Even more, consider with weight and belief what the men in your life tell you, just as much as you do with women. This should be common sense, but I don’t think it is. No one wants to be the victim of abuse. So if they’re telling you that they are, or they’re telling you that you hurt them, believe them. Stop. Assess your heart and see what you can do to help. If it’s you doing the hurting, get away from them and get help. If it’s you doing the listening, see how you can get them help. At the very least, be their listening ear, their supportive voice.

It’s hard enough for women to share their stories, to find people who believe them, who support them seeking healing and safety. It’s even harder for men to take the first terrifying step of opening up.

Be Jesus to everyone in your life, my dear. Believe them. Listen to them. Right what wrongs you can. Never assume you could never be the monster, never assume you are never wrong, but instead be actively intentional in bringing peace and love to those around you.

This is convoluted but it’s my brain. So. Don’t be a jerk, no matter your gender. Don’t be abusive. And if you see or someone points out jerky or abusive tendencies in you, listen. And if someone says someone else has hurt them, LISTEN.

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