When People Abuse: What Panics Me Part 3

This is the last part of a three part series about my own personal panic. Part one involved pot lucks. Part two? Friendships gone south. And today? When I see oppression or abuse.

During our church planting tenure in France, we had an incident where I experienced one person who yelled and demeaned another. Something in me welled up in that moment–first panic, then anger. I reacted. I said something like, “You will not treat him that way.” I was firm, and the belittling stopped.

I can’t handle abuse.

As in many types of panic, this stems from the past. (My hunch is that if you explored your panic buttons, you’d find their origins in childhood, based on a trauma small or great.) As a girl who had been sexually abused at five, I longed for someone to step in, rescue me, and tell the bullies to stop. But no one did. Not even my babysitter who knew what was happening.

I wrote Watching the Tree Limbs because I wanted to invent a hero who would say, “Enough!” and not allow abuse to continue.

I think the panic comes when I see oppression or abuse and have an internal battle with myself. Part of me (human nature?) wants to leave well enough alone. The other part must see justice in the moment. A third, more tactful approach is usually what is best.

Ironically, when I firmly but kindly said those words during our church planting experience, a leader over me rebuked me and told me I had been reactionary. Ouch. It took me a long time to unpack then, think back through the situation, and see that his assessment was wrong. Sometimes you have to do an uncomfortable thing to stop abuse. I don’t regret it.

What about you? When have you stepped in when someone was being hurt? What happened? Has there been a time in your life when you wished someone would’ve rescued you?

 

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