Sandra Charite
By Sandra Charite

The pallbearers from the funeral home rolled her casket into the
church as family and close friends proceeded behind them. Hundreds of
mourners within the congregation were at a loss for words as emotions
exploded. This was a day that no one saw coming.

Her smile was her signature but the tears that hid behind that smile
were invisible to those who loved her the most. A devoted wife and mother
of three, she spent her life doing so much for others. She served as a
deaconess at her church, president of the Parent-Teacher Association, a
part-time nurse at the local hospital, and volunteered at the Big Brothers &
Sisters weekly.

At 25, she met the man of her dreams. She had been through so
many bad relationships in the past so she avoided the dating scene but
when she met him, she couldn’t resist. His charm was everything. He
romanced her with fancy dinners and introduced her to his family after their
third date. She believed he was the one that she wanted to spend the rest
of her life with. A year later, they married and formed three beautiful kids.
Yet, after 10 years of marriage, things changed.

He became distant and angry from the stress at work. In return, he
turned his frustration on his wife, the one who always had his back. Each
time, he apologized or said he would never hit her again but those were
just words on his tongue. Not only was the abuse physical but it was verbal.
She never told anyone of her family and close friends about the abuse.
After each attack, he reminded her that no one else would want or
love her. He called her, damaged goods. Finally, one night, a fed-up wife
packed her bags to leave. Before she could make it to the front door, her
husband beat her to death while their kids cried and hid inside their

The morning after, the father was arrested and the kids were sent to
live with relatives. Still, the murder shocked family and friends. They were
such a perfect family, people said. Those who were close to the couple
found the abuse allegations to be unbelievable. As the kids began to share
their accounts of the abuse, the wife became someone that many didn’t
know. Her silent tears never reached her loved one’s ears.

As women, we have been told for years that if he hits you then leave
or don’t give him a second chance to abuse you no matter how many times
he apologizes and professes his love. Yet, the number of battered women
in the U.S. continues to climb.

Many times, battered women are afraid to leave the relationship
because of their children or financial security. They might even refuse the
help and advice of friends for fear that the abuser will find out and become
even more violent. I know this because I have had family members and
friends who have been victims of domestic violence.

For years, my mother suffered physical abuse at the hands of my
father. He even threatened to kill her. Some of her kids witnessed the
abuse and she knew that she wanted to give them a better view of love and
exhibit self-worth. So, one night, she gathered the little that she had and
decided to leave my dad. She took her three daughters with her. Even
though there was a possibility that my dad could retaliate, she knew she
was loved by the Most High and did not deserve that abuse. “The LORD
your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over
you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with
loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

There are mountains of pain that have no words but they are visible.
Check on the strong women in your life because what you see as a smile
may just be a mask for silent tears. To the battered victim: Your voice has