Today I spent time talking to a woman who would like to leave her abusive, alcoholic husband. He says she can go, but she can’t take the kids with her. They’ve been together since she was 13 years old. She says they met at church and she thought he was a good guy. Now, 19 years and 3 kids later she’s still stuck with him.
It’s one thing to read stories like this (which I realize you, my reader, are currently doing), but it’s another thing entirely to sit across from a woman and know it’s her life. I’m looking at her little girl’s black eye. I’m hearing the woman say that kids shouldn’t be kicked around like they’re animals.
Twice he’s been put under a restraining order. Once he was ordered to stay away for six months and undergo therapy, but he told the system that he was a changed man and they let him off the hook.
She’s willing to walk away and leave him, but unless he signs a paper to give up the kids, she says the police will follow her and take the kids from her. Talk about a backwards system!
Now, I don’t think there’s such thing as a perfect system, but can you imagine living in a place where there isn’t a helpline to call or a shelter to flee to? She has no options: no money and nowhere to go where he can’t follow. Honduras’ laws to protect women and children are perfectly fine on paper, but there is a MAJOR disconnect here between the law books and real life.
Abuse is so normal here that people hardly bat an eye. I heard today from someone who knows 15-year-old moms that give the baby a bottle and then leave the house. And that brings up the issue of teen pregnancy: in Honduras, the average age for a first time mom is 15 years. I also heard for the first time today that a family of kids we know well get beaten. We’ve wondered and asked before, but never knew.
Here we are, working in this country to help and yet we are so helpless to change things! Sometimes it’s overwhelming to see what a broken world we live in. We can’t possibly fix all the hurt and neglect that surrounds us. I guess we are all called to concentrate on cleaning up our corner of the world, wherever that may be. So, with God’s mercy, we will be doing our best here, to make a difference through the ministry of Give Hope 2 Kids.