I went to a domestic abuse vigil to support a friend of mine. And it was sensitive and triumphant and a simple beauty. I sat and observed and took in the night.
There were probably 20 total people there and one could assume that most of them have had a personal experience with domestic abuse, or like me they were supporting one who had. There was an older man sitting there who raised his hand and spoke at some point during the night and he offered up his lack of understanding about the whole situation and cycle. He didn't understand how you could love someone who hurts you, how you could stay with them - the whole thing really blew his mind. He told briefly of the solid, wholesome foundation of his nuclear family, and of his adoring relationship with his wife. This is what he knew and he admittedly did not understand the speakers, the survivors or the turmoil and grief.
I was surprised to hear a man come to a domestic abuse vigil to say that he didn't get how all this even went on and how these women could find themselves in this situation. Yet, I was silently grateful for his openness to admit his naiveté and in this forum. It's like going to a rally against cancer to say you don't get how people get cancer. After taking in his questions and responses, I regarded him as brave to have the conversations, and to attend the vigil. He engaged in something he didn't understand and when you put yourself beyond your comfort zone, it enhances you. And engaging yourself in something you don't understand expands humanity.
We tend to stay with what we know, and only by being thrown into an experience is how we experience it. But I think more of us should attend targeted groups and focused rallies. If I know nothing about Alaska, I should watch the show about law enforcement in Alaska. And if I care nothing for weddings, I should attend a bridal show. That is how I will expand myself. That is how I become more human - not by indulging in that which I already relish.
Kudos to the older man who can't grasp domestic abuse! He showed up, naïve and simple and all and he expanded himself.