I looked over into oncoming traffic and noticed a car had almost stopped in the middle of the road. All I could see was hair and arms flailing. Whoever was in the passenger seat was taking a severe beating.
I made a u-turn and followed the car, in hopes the driver would stop the rampage when she saw me. After one turn she pulled off the road and into a parking spot.
A young, terrified girl looked over at me from the passenger window. She was crying and her lip was busted and bleeding. The woman driving was still yelling but had momentarily stopped hitting her.
I rolled my window down and shouted so they would know I was aware. The young girl quickly got out of the car and ran to my passenger side. I opened the door and told her she was welcome to sit down.
She was clearly shaken up and unsure, but I’m guessing my business attire and obvious concern was enough for her to trust me. “You’re safe,” I told her, “I’m not going to let that woman hurt you.”
After a few short moments, the driver sped off. The young girl, whose name I came to learn was Hannah, finally calmed down enough to make a phone call.
I couldn’t hear much of what was being said on the other end of the line, but I could tell whatever male she was talking to was not very concerned. In fact, he sounded a little irritated at the situation.
“Yeah, some guy saw what was happening and stopped...No, she left...I have to get to work.” Tears continued to drip down her cheeks as she sat there explaining the situation to who I later learned was her abusive boyfriend.
I asked her a few questions to see if there was some way I could help. She needed to get to work and her ride had just left her on the side of the street. I told her if she was comfortable, I didn’t mind driving her to where she needed to go. She agreed.
On the way, I made my best attempt at small talk that would help her continue to calm down and not be worried about being in the car with a stranger. I told her what I did for a living, why I was in town, about Lacie and the animals, my family…
After ten minutes or so she was smiling, still through tears, and showed me a picture of her little dog, Ziggy. We continued to talk, and I learned the situation I witnessed a few minutes earlier was just one piece of a much more complicated puzzle.
She was nineteen years old and moved to Montgomery to be with her boyfriend a year ago. They lived with his mother and both were abusive. She mentioned that she loved him, and he was good to her a lot of the time.
She had no family or friends in town, nowhere to go stay other than their home, and no drivers license because she had never learned how to drive. With every bit of information I learned, the more helpless I felt.
We started to near her work, and I knew this would most likely be the last time I saw her. I looked over at a young girl, who minutes before I didn’t know existed, and I saw my sister, my mom, my wife, every female I’ve ever cared about.
What would I want someone to say to them if they found themselves in this situation?
“Hannah, I know I’m some random guy you don’t know. You didn’t ask for my advice, but I feel like I need to say this. You don’t deserve what’s happening to you. No one has a right to hurt you. You deserve to be safe and secure.
You are worthy of being loved, and not just sometimes. All the time. You were created for a purpose, and you are valuable. There is no excuse for what’s happening, and you don’t have to stay.”
We pulled up at her work, and as she wiped the tears away, she nodded in agreement. She thanked me for the ride and said she had to run because she was already late. I said goodbye then drove away, frustrated and heartbroken.
I don’t share this to say “go me” for trying to help. I wish I had done more. I say this because I want us to all have eyes to see what’s happening around us. I want us to have words to speak when given these opportunities.
I also believe on some level every person is believing a story about themselves that isn’t true: “I don’t deserve to be loved. I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy. This situation can’t change”
It’s our responsibility to interrupt that narrative, to speak life, to help break the cycle of oppression, doubt, insecurity, brokenness, because we might literally be the only light in the midst of their present darkness.