Helping To HealI had just parked my car and was getting out to strecth my legs. I was passing thru a beautiful town and had to stop. As I was opening the door I heard the most terrifying scream. You know, like the one you hear in movies...the scream of desperation and fear. I froze, no way, I must be hearing things. But when she screamed again "help me", I knew. Instead of thinking, I just ran to her.She was running out a door, her long curly brown hair was a mess, tear streaks of mascara ran down her cheeks. She was skinny and frail and the red marks stood out on her pale skin. When she saw me, she ran to me. A complete stranger suddenly her salvation. Feeling the need to comfort...to protect, I opened my arms to her and she ran to them. I guided her to a nearby park bench. Her body was shaking in fear, she was hysterical and the words she tried to form were not clear. It took several minutes before she was able to calm down and tell me "he" was up there. He hit her, trapped her, wouldn't let her go. Somehow she was able to escape. Some other concerned bystanders called the police as I sat there holding her. My children watched from the car. Their faces full of concern...their conversation long since halted. Yes, they would remember this forever. Just as I would. Later, we would talk about abuse and relationships, later I would explain. Right now, they understood, mommy had to help.
The police came quickly. While one searched for "him" the other began to question my scared new friend. With every question she looked at me..hoping for help. What could I say? I knew nothing except the few details she was able to choke up. That is when I had to make myself remember. The feelings of fear and aloneness. Despair and unworthyness. To remember the sting of the slap, but mostly the tears on my heart.
I pulled her to the side. Leaving the police officer a bit confused. I made her look at me. Held her hands in mine. I promised this young girl, so vulnerable and exposed, that I would stay by her side and help her get through this. She began to cry, but I could feel a small change in her. But mostly, I could feel a big change in me.
The rest of the day went pretty much like you could imagine it. She answered all the questions the officer asked. Still hestitant, but stronger now. I stayed with her through it all. This stranger, who needed me so much. This stranger who was also helping me heal. Later I was able to call her friends and have them come to her. I was sad to leave her, this girl who was standing where I once stood. I left her my information, hoping she would keep in touch with me, but knowing she wouldn't. Why keep in touch with someone who just shared your worse nightmare.
I think about her all the time. I think about the conversation I had with my children about her. I wonder how she is. And oddly, I am thankful for her. She helped me, to use my past, to help. She gave the horror I went through,a reason. She gave me the feelings of strength and control that I never felt I had in that situation before. By helping her, she helped me heal a little bit more.