Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
Twenty years ago, my responsibility at a church was to sing with a worship team at the beginning of each service. Because we were on stage, our belongings had to be somewhere else. One Sunday, my purse was stolen from the office where I usually kept it.
One Sunday, it was gone. As some suspects were confronted, my purse was found. A church member returned it saying, “You shouldn’t have left it where [the thief] could find it. Of course he stole it!”
On another occasion, a friend was taking her groceries into her home. A young neighbor boy with a bad reputation keyed her car while she was inside. When my friend confronted the boy’s parents, the dad said, “You shouldn’t have left your keys where the boy could find them.”
About ten years ago, coming around a corner on a city street, I saw in front of me a driver doing a forward-then-back-then-forward U-turn in the middle of the road. He broadsided my van, oblivious to other traffic. He was cited for an illegal turn, yet when I told the story to my family no one asked what it was like from my side of the road. Instead I heard, “What were you doing that he hit you?”
A woman was drugged in a bar, raped outside the bar, and in the morning had vague memories of trauma. It took her a long time to tell a friend what she remembered of the incident. When she finally dared, she was accosted with, “What were you doing there? What were you wearing?”
A wife was repeatedly assaulted by her husband of nearly twenty years. Several bruised ribs, a broken bone, and a bottomed-out self-esteem later, she tried to report he had raped her on numerous occasions. “You are making your husband look bad and need to be quiet,” she was told.
Do these stories turn your stomach? Whatever the wrongdoing, it is always the fault and responsibility of the wrongdoer. Period.
Most of us would agree that only evil men do evil deeds. Yet somehow we turn that around to suggest that an evil man’s victim somehow created a no-win situation for him, and the poor guy had no choice. This mentality suggests men are puppets incapable of following a moral compass.
Crime occurs when someone takes advantage of a vulnerable person. Period.
Why should I or anyone have to explain this? Shame on us for not protecting our vulnerable citizens. Shame on us for shaming victims. Shame on us for teaching evil people they are not responsible for their actions.
What a woman is doing, who she is with, where she is, what she is wearing, what she is thinking or feeling, her intelligence, her mental health, her self-esteem, her social position, her faith, or any other detail of her life are not factors making her responsible for crimes and abuse committed against her.
That is because evil people do evil deeds. Compassionate love does not accuse victims.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.
*picture from qualitystockphotos.com