Brian, me and our two boys went to Phoenix this past few days to attend Brian’s grandfather’s funeral. Grandpa Forest passed away on Friday evening. The services were beautiful (he had a memorial service at the church as well as a military funeral service at the cemetery). I’ll write more about this later because it was one of the most beautiful events I’ve ever observed.
Our 8 hour drive was somewhat uneventful. Some traffic. Stopped for dinner. Lots of potty breaks.
We pulled off the freeway. It’s 9:30pm.Way past the boys’ bedtimes. But 5 minutes till we were home. Good enough. I look down to text Mom & Dad to tell them we were almost home when Brian pulls the car over and exclaims:
“That guy is punching her in the face!”
WHAT??? I look behind me on the sidewalk and I see two dark figures struggling. The next few minutes feel like a whirlwind.
Brian parks the car to the side of the street (no parking on this street, mind you) and gets out.
He runs toward the couple and steps in front of the girl.
Chance unbuckles his seat belt, “I wanna go too!”
Me: “NOPE! Get back in your carseat!”
I call 9-1-1.
“9-1-1 Operator, what is your emergency?”
“There’s a man here hitting a girl on the street.”
I give our location.
He’s no longer hitting her, but he’s yelling.
She’s yelling back.
Brian says to the not-so-gentleman, “You need to just walk away.”
The guy flings a few crude & uneducated words into the air and walks away.
Girl is crying.
I just hold her. She’s shaking.
I don’t know what to say.
Me: “I’m Jenni. What’s your name?”
Me: “Joanne, can we take you somewhere?”
She doesn’t have anywhere to go.
It’s freakin’ cold outside.
I crank up the heat in our car and put her in the passenger seat.
Police show up.
Then another pulls up.
Then a police truck pulls up.
Then a firetruck.
WHAT IS GOING ON???
Chance & Pax are in police car & firetruck heaven.
We give our reports to the officers.
They question her. She lies. Denies everything.
My heart drops.
Once the police were out of earshot, I sat with her again.
I asked her, “Why didn’t you tell them the truth?”
She replied, “Lady… I love him. I don’t have anywhere to go.”
“We can get you help.”
“I really appreciate you for taking time, but I’m nobody.”
I grabbed her hand and made her look at me in the eyes…
“Listen carefully, Joanne. This is important! You are NOT a nobody. If you were nobody, we wouldn’t have stopped. We wouldn’t be here right now. You are somebody. You are somebody beautiful and special. I don’t know who told you you weren’t but they are liars. I see you are breath-taking and worth so much more than you know. I KNOW you are somebody… and I hope you believe that about yourself someday too.”
“That’s really nice of you. You don’t even know me.”
I tell her, “I know enough.”
I wrote down my phone number for her. And my email address (just in case), handed it to her and said:
“I’m hoping you don’t go back to him. But I know you might. And in case you do, and in case you find yourself in this situation again, I want you to make the situation different because you have the power to do that. This is my number. Call me. I’m just around the corner and I will come get you. Do you understand?”
“Yes. Thank you!”
And then I asked if I could pray for her. For her and him. She said yes… and she cried straight through my prayer.
We’re finally home. Our “5 more minutes” became “an hour later.” We had enough time to explain to our boys what happened. We talked about why we stopped, why Daddy was so brave and why we do the right thing even with people we don’t know and EVEN when it may not be safe to.
Chance had some questions and thoughts… like he always does. Pax wanted to know why we weren’t at the hotel anymore (he was more enamored with the flashing lights on the police cars. I’m ok with that.). We did the best we could with both of their questions.
** Quick note: if you’re a Joanne… read the bolded italics up above again. Tell someone. And if you think you have no one, tell me. Click on the “CONTACT” square on the left column near the top. I WILL get back to you and we’ll find you resources together. YOU are beautiful and made with a purpose. NO ONE gets to lay a hand on you like that. NO ONE.
For the rest of you out there: if you ever see stuff like this going on in public… STEP UP. It IS your business. What if that was YOUR daughter/sister/mother? Do the right thing. For humankind.
My husband is valiant, brave and a hero. He proved that tonight. In front of me and in front of our boys. Not because he was trying to prove something… but because he was going with his gut and doing the right thing. He could have gotten punched. He knew that. He did the right thing anyway. I am so proud of him!
What would you have done?