Next Door Terrorrists

Photo: Dreamstime
While I was outside our house watching the grandson play in the sandbox, I could hear loud sounds in the neighbor’s house. I guessed someone was crying and a man’s voice was shouting. This continued for minutes. Then the back door burst open followed by several very loud vulgar words and something crashed. A woman’s voice joined the disturbance while my dog responded with barking from our yard. The neighbors went back inside but I could still hear the argument. I grew more concerned as I sat in the sun attempting to make sand “cakes” with the two-year-old. I decided that if I heard screams I would call the police.
Years ago when we were young and living in a city apartment high-rise building, the neighbors used to fight. We could hear her yelling and crying followed by thumps against our shared wall. At that time I was pretty ignorant about the dynamics of intimate partner or family violence. Now, after almost 30 years assisting abuse victims in some capacity, I do not have an excuse.
Self preservation is a natural instinct. For those of us who are in safe and loving relationships, we like to avoid the possibility of dangerous encounters. I know neighbors on each side of our house — enough to greet them when I see them in their driveways. But I’m not always sure who else lives or visits with them. We have exchanged Christmas treats or I’ve given extra citrus fruit. Mostly, I have wished for them to be quiet and maintain their property.
I believe domestic violence occurs on a continuum from families all the way to nations. It is a sin symptom of this damaged world. That doesn’t mean it should be tolerated. The “Hear Something, See Something, Say Something,” advice for thwarting national terrorism, also applies to our neighborhoods. So far, I have not seen a neighbor lying in my street wounded. But the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) pricks at my heart. People need to know that others are paying attention and care about their welfare. Even if it is inconvenient or troublesome. What goes on behind closed doors ultimately affects the community.
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion: 

1. How do you define “a good neighbor”?

2. What is your approach for dealing with a family member or neighbor who might be in a dangerous relationship?

Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida. All rights reserved © 2016 Click here for content usage information.