Domestic Violence- What Should One Really Do

I am definitely in the midst of a surreal experience.  Here I am a Domestic Violence advocate and treatment provided with years of counseling under my belt, and a minister with I thought a prestty strong understaning of scripture; but when my sister's husband called me after a huge domestic situation her and my sister had just experienced, I think I flubbed my lines.  He called w/ a compelling story of my sister's inability to understand him and how hard it is to deal with her and my neice and nephew.  He described a situation that resulted in my 17 y/o nephew and he in a nose-to-nose confrontation b/c my nephew reportedly told him that he and my sister's arguing was disturbing his sleep.  I quickly pointed out that obviously my nephew was responding to a need to protect his mother and that my bbil and sister were creating a volatile situation and that as the adults it was there responsiblity to contain their emotions so as not to involve the children in their dispute.  I then went on to implore my bil that he and my sister needed to get help and that he as the man of the house bore a responsibility to get that help and hopefully improve things in their environment.  Historically I have pretty much viewed my bil as a neandeerthal and wondered how my sister could deal with him.  This converstation seemed to me as the first time I experienced him as being capable of understanding issues and he seemed motivated to get help.  Well fast forward an hour or two to when I finally reach my sister.  Her account of the situation was markedly different and her story left a very bad taste in my mouth.  She basically described events that could only be described as an actual assault by my bil and my nephew intervening and then having my bil threaten his well being.  I quickly suggested that a restraining order might be in her best interest.  She said that she was planning to get one the next morning.  I asked what she was planning to do about her safety that night.  She bascially said that she would join my bil in acting like nothing had evenr happened.  I told her to call me if she needed assistance and let her know that I was praying for her. 

 I was totally perplexed by the situation and I am not perplexed often.  My bil was describing a situation that while tense seemed to have some possiblity of having a possible remedy.  My sister desribed events that would have me heading to the nearest divorce court if not a gun store.  My traing and experience tells me that I should be empathetic and supportive but not quick to provide direction or to totally invest in one version of a story over another mainly b/c couples often demonize each other when talking about conflict and if you jump too quicly on one bandwagon or another you can ostracize yourself when the couple reunites.  I also know how insidious abuse can be and often couples go through hundreds of these episodes before one person calls it quits or more horrifying until somone is seriously hurt or killed.  All this is probably why couples need counsleing from objective third parties but realistically in my community we are more likely to seek out informal counseling from loved ones.

 

Well my other sil reminded me that prayer is an active way of coping especially in situations when you don't know what to do.    So I am praying earnestly, and maintaining contact w/ my sister to ensure that she is okay.  Oh what a mess.

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