But let's let Melody's story tell of their first encounter:
On the only occupied bed in the four-bed ward lay what appeared to be a broken doll. She was on the bony side of slender, and her face was a pale background for the dark bruises that stained her eyes, cheeks and mouth. Her long, dark hair was coming loose from its confining braids. She had stitches on one cheek, and her left arm was in a cast. Her eyes were so swollen Melody couldn’t tell if she was awake or asleep. Above the neckline of the hospital gown more bruises colored the girl’s collarbone.
Melody’s stomach clenched. How could anyone do this? God, help me help her.
“Hello? Nila?” she called softly, not wanting to scare or waken the girl.
One bruised eye opened slightly. “Who are you? What do you want?”
“We’re your neighbors, Nila. I’m Melody; I moved into the yellow house down the street from you a few weeks ago. And this is Bobbie. She lives next door to me. We’re concerned about you and want to know if there is anything we can do for you.”
“Just take your concern and leave me alone. There’s nothing anyone can do.” Her eye closed again she turned her face away.
Melody felt tears fill her eyes at the hopelessness in that weak voice. “That’s not true. We can help you.”
She was surprised at the smoothness of her voice—not a waver to betray her nerves. “May I sit beside you? I promise I won’t hurt you.”
Nila’s slight one-shouldered shrug gave permission, and Melody moved to the chair beside the bed. She glanced over at Bobbie, who was still standing just inside the doorway.
“Nila, I know you’re in a lot of pain, so we won’t stay long. But I do want to help you. Is there anything at all I could do for you? Perhaps bring you something to read? I notice you don’t have a television in here. Would you like one? Or something special to eat?”
“Eyes hurt too much, and I can’t eat much yet—mouth’s too sore.” The words came with their own pain, causing a spasm in the young, battered face.
“What if I read to you? Would you like that?” Melody stroked the slender fingers protruding from the stark, white cast.
“If you want. One of my foster moms used to read to me when I was a kid.” Nila turned to look at Melody. “But why would you? I’m nothing to you.”
Melody smiled through unshed tears. “Oh no, that’s not true, Nila. You are very special. God loves you so much he pushed me to come to you even though I was afraid. He cares, and now that I’ve met you, I care too. I think I should read you my favorite psalm. It gives you a clear picture of just how much God cares for you.”
Melody pulled her small Bible out of her purse and quickly found the page.
“Here it is, Psalm 139:
O Lord, you have searched me, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depth, you are there…”
The girl’s eyes were closed when Melody looked up, but she looked much more peaceful then when she’d arrived.
That's who Nila was. But that's not who she is.
I hope you'll enjoy both Melody's Song and Nila's Hope, available through all online booksellers, the publishers, and I have copies on hand.
Now it's your turn. Have you ever dealt with an abusive situation? What did you do?
Please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.