My heart quakes within me,
and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling have come over me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest
I would flee to a far-off place
and make my lodging in the wilderness."
For had it been an adversary who taunted me, then I could have borne it;
or had it been an enemy who vaunted himself against me,
then I could have hidden from him.
But it was you, a man after my own heart,
my companion, my own familiar friend.
We took sweet counsel together,
and walked with the throng in the house of God.
My companion stretched forth his hand against his comrade;
he has broken his covenant.
—Psalm 55:5-8, 12-14, 20
Two policemen were standing on the elevator. I stepped on, wondering what had brought them to my apartment building. A robbery, a rape—"What happened?" I asked.
"Just a domestic," one of them replied assuringly. Just a domestic. In the shelter for battered women where I had lived and worked, "just a domestic" meant black eyes and disfigured faces, broken bones and traumatized children. Sometimes it means a miscarriage, maybe even a woman's death.
I cannot think of this violence—violence against women that takes place at home—without remembering women I have known: Anna, Barbara, Linda. I think of how they suffered, how God suffered with them, and how often those around them stood by in silence.