violence and shame: 2

Author: angiem, 02 06th, 2010

They were cuddling on the couch watching the 11 o’clock news.  The house was silent, except for the TV, kids tucked in hours ago.

“There’s that woman.”  She said straightening up.  ”Her husband shot her three times in the head and she played dead.  For seven hours she just lay there.”

“What did she do to deserve it?”  He asked.

I watched her telling me these things, wondering if today would be the day she would spill her secrets.  The morning was bright, the sun streaming in across the table of the breakfast joint we’ve frequented every first Saturday of the month for 12 years now.  She slides her cell phone across the table, a brave smile trembling on her lips.

“He’s keeping track of me.  Wherever I go, he knows.”

I glance at the text she had received from her carrier, a text telling her that another number is keeping track of her phone’s location.  Her eyes glisten and she wiggles her nose to keep the tears away.

“I just want you to know.  Just in case.  I know you write about these things.”

I know better than to ask what he does.  There are things she cannot bring herself to say, even to me, one of her closest friends.  And I know better than to ask why she stays.  I know the church she is part of.  Her family’s reputation within it.  The fact that no matter what, she would be found at fault and not he.  And then of course, there are the children. It goes without saying.

I had an inkling that things weren’t what they seemed.  A certain wince she’d quickly mask with a smile whenever I’d hug too tight.  A sad look in her eyes when the subject of husbands came up.

The things that happen behind closed doors.  Who can tell?  Sometimes the children wake up with nightmares of things real (and imagined, to be sure), in their pretty princess and cowboy bedrooms, their little hearts heavy, their spirits dragging.  Wondering if it was something they did.  Feigning sleep, and praying for it all to stop.  And you go driving down the street of beautiful homes, manicured lawns, luxury cars in the garage, and think how perfect it is, and how you wished you lived right there, in that particular home with the silk Bergere chairs framed by the leaded window, and Savonnerie rugs throughout the house.  The lamp left on in the downstairs hall has such a welcoming warm glow.  But you don’t know.  You have no idea at the horror the pretty things are masking.


46 Responses to “violence and shame: 2”

  1. Jena Says:

    It’s such a difficult thing to do being supportive, yet keeping your cool. I would not put up with it as her friend.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    I often have to remind myself of this, that the trappings of success and beauty don’t mean that all is fine.

    And the intro to this: what did she do to deserve it??? Oh. oh. oh.

  3. Ava Says:

    Those words just break my heart. I know if it was me, I wouldn’t stay. To live like that?

  4. Mary Moon Says:

    You write this from your heart and it is beautiful in its sadness. I have struggled with this issue myself with a friend. It’s so hard. I think that she gave you permission to ask with the cell phone. I think you should.

  5. Beth Says:

    I have heard of so many sad, tragic tales, I would never presume to know what goes on behind those “pretty masks.”

  6. angiem Says:

    Jena- You have a point… Yet, I feel that she may not want my doing anything other than listening to her. I don’t know.

    Jennifer- I know. Who says something like that?

    Ava- Exactly!

    Thank you, Ms. Moon. I should. And I will.

  7. angiem Says:

    Beth - I haven’t. I have heard and glimpsed, yet have never been so close to anything like this.

  8. Corinne Says:

    Oh good luck Angie… what a difficult position to be in, and to watch unfold.

  9. krista Says:

    oh, my heart. the worst is not being able to do anything. because sometimes getting involved only makes things worse.
    i hope your friend finds what she needs to get out from under this.

  10. krista Says:

    ugh. that last comment of mine sounded crass.
    not how it was meant.

  11. Kirie Says:

    Listening is the best you can do, and it is a lot. She is brave for even hinting at the abuse. I know, from first hand experience, what that is to be in a relationship like that. For several years, I didn’t believe I had any choice but to stay, as he had convinced me he was my only reality. I managed to get away only by the grace of God, who helped me believe that I could have a full and blessed life without that damaged man.

    Regardless, the violence and abuse was big, burdensome secret I carried with me for years (even after the relationship was over) before I really told anyone about it. I have wondered many times if I had talked about it, if someone have been able to help me get out from that bad situation. I still don’t know the answer.

    I hope she shares more with you, and relieves herself of the secret, even if just a little. Opening up and admitting that there is abuse can be a first step toward envisioning a different and happier future for herself. I so hope she can make that for herself! She is lucky to have a friend like you to be in her corner.

  12. Vanessa Says:

    I apoligize in advance for the long comment/rant to follow. I caution Ava and anyone else from saying “never”. I know I did at one time in my life. You have no idea of the strangle-hold one life can have on another until you have experienced it…and I pray none of you do.
    Though I was never physically abused by my ex-husband I know the confusion, pain and self-denial that an emotionally abusive relationship can cause. Even with the assurance of friends that it was in fact abusive, I question to this day that it ever happened or wonder if it was just my perception of events. Ghosts of 10 years worth of thoughts such as “it was my fault” and “I shouldn’t have said/done that” and “I asked for it” still linger in my mind after almost 3 years. So, I beg, never say “never.”
    Constant support and reassurance that she is a woman deserving of real love, an ear and a safe haven for a her should she ever need it is the best thing that you can do for a friend in an abusive relationship…and LOTS of prayer.

  13. pamela Says:

    Absolutely terrifying.

  14. bethany Says:

    Oh gosh Angie. Such powerful, true writing about something so awful. A tough place for you to be too. I’m glad she has you.

  15. angiem Says:

    Corinne - I feel so helpless. As if I could do more. But what exactly, I have no idea.

    No, it didn’t Krista. I hope she does too.

    Oh Kirie, I am so sorry to hear you had to suffer so. I am so glad that you got out. She is braver than she thinks. And I am ready to listen to her, and not judge.

    Vanessa, you too? I am so very sorry. Of course you didn’t do anything wrong! The mind games and control these men exhibit must be truly terrorizing the women if like you, years later the questions still linger. I am appalled at how prevalent abuse is.

  16. angiem Says:

    Pamela - It is. It breaks my heart.

  17. Elizabeth (@claritychaos) Says:

    wow. I’m so sorry. I’ve wondered about this in the abstract. How to help a friend when you suspect or even know there’s abuse. I don’t have anything other than questions to add here.

  18. Simona Says:

    Angie, I saw your link from facebook and I had to write to you- I will pray for you, and your friend. God will light the way and you will say and do the right things. It’s amazing that there’s woman out there like you that are willing to lend a hand and help and not gossip and judge. May God bless you!

  19. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    Delicate situation, to say the least… At least you are right there, listening with your heart. Don’t let go of her, because many probably have or will. Advance with care. Reading stories like this makes me wish I could just take all the bad in this world away… but no can do. Just have to act the best we can, knowing that we’re only people.

    Sweet Sunday to you my dear!

  20. French Fancy Says:

    You just never know what is going on in a house. Our lovely French neighbours who are sweetness and light and seem very loved up - well another neighbour told us (gossips one and all) that he (first neighbour) used to be an alcoholic that regularly beat this lovely lady. We found it hard to believe but it has now been confirmed by yet another neighbour.

  21. Jessica Says:

    Wow. :-( That is so horrible. You’re right that children see and hear so many more things than we think.
    I’m saying a prayer for your friend. i can’t believe her husband said, “what did she do?”
    I hope she can get out of that marriage, and I hope her church would stand behind her. At least she has you. :-)

  22. deb @ talk at the table Says:

    I keep thinking about this , how I would act if it were me and a friend was sharing and trusting.
    I feel so terribly for all of it. You will do the right thing.

  23. angiem Says:

    Bethany - Thank you. It is indeed tough. There is only so much I can do.

    Thank you, Elizabeth. I feel the same.

    Simona - Thank you for your prayers. Judging has never solved matters, has it?

    Susa - I hope for you a lovely week, my sweet Parisian friend. I wish stories like these wouldn’t have to be. I wish men would not intimidate with words, or raise their fists.

    Julie - I have have noticed that in some instances. Publicly the men are so very loving to their wives. More to increase their hold over them. It’s part of the manipulation.

    Jessica - Thank you for the prayers.

    Deb - It’s a difficult situation to be in. Thank you, Deb.

  24. Francesca Says:

    This sad story somehow makes me think of your earlier tale, about the woman who got red of her past and fled. There are always closed doors - sometimes grotty, sometimes pretty - behind which are truths that women cannot and will not tell. I hope to raise a daughter who’ll be part of the generation of women who tell.

  25. Ava Says:

    I admit I have never encountered domestic abuse personally. I don’t know how I would react. I would hope to get myself out of the situation

  26. Bebe Says:

    Harrowing story. My heart goes out to your friend and all the victims of domestic violence.

  27. julie Says:

    You know Angie you often touch on subjects that are intensely personal to me and I often wonder whether to discuss or just leave a so so comment..

    My mother put up with a ranting abusive alcoholic for all of her marriage. She was just biding time till we children were older enough that she could afford to leave and not worry about trying to support us alone. Well she died of cancer before that time occurred. Never wait till the time is right. There will never be a right time.

    Maybe your friend needs someone to legitimize her concerns.. These people are master manipulators and leave one feeling as if they are exaggerating or even imagining their situation. It can’t hurt to discuss. I think Ms Moon is correct that she created an opening for discussion but it may be difficult for her to just blurt it out.

    Well good luck my friend whatever you decide to do. Julie

  28. Karen@SurvivingMotherhood Says:

    “You have no idea at the horror the pretty things are masking.”
    I think that’s true all over the place. People are prone to hide behind masks. And it’s so sad because how, then, can we help?
    God, give us eyes to see!

  29. Laura [What I Like] Says:

    My lord how terribly sad. But good that she’s able to reveal at least some of what goes on to you. I have a friend who didn’t say a word for ten years!

  30. Crystal Says:

    oh man, this is so sad. But seriously, not to detract from the subject, you are an AMAZING writer. The way you described this was just beautiful, in a very SAD way :( It’s so true though, you never know what’s going on behind doors. I personally have never met anyone dealing with physical abuse (that I know of), but my little sis has had her share of struggles with her husband. She found out he was cheating on her recently, but doesn’t have the heart to leave him because of her kids. So sad.

  31. Kary Gonyer Says:

    Angie…this left me breathless..speechless….

    you never know…and the lamplight left on leaving a cozy glow….but who knows what’s inside…….

    brillantly written

  32. Cindy La Ferle Says:

    You have written beautifully about a very difficult, painful topic. And about someone you clearly care about. It sounds like you’ve cracked open a door with the recent conversation you had with your friend, and maybe soon you can open it more until she lets you totally in to help…?

  33. adrienne Says:


    i don’t know why you would leave a comment with me saying that you wish you were creative.

    it is clear that you are infinitely creative in your prose as well as your love.

    blessings and peace to you and your friend.

  34. Mwa Says:

    I have my suspicions about some neighbours. I wish I could give the woman more courage.

  35. rochambeau Says:

    Dear Angie,
    Thank you for this riveting post! You are an excellent writer. One with a conscious.
    Abuse unfortunately happens more than people realize. It effects the poor, middle class and the rich.
    There are homes to help woman and children in these situations, at least in all large cities. There are restriction orders too! She needs help. She needs to believe that there WILL be a brighter life ahead if she will take action to protect herself and family. That she deserves it! God wants us to live in peace, not fear.

    Many blessings to you and this dear woman and children. A prayer for her husband too.


  36. angiem Says:

    Francesca - I hope so too. These crimes against women must be stopped.

    Ava - I see you’ve read Vanessa’s comment. :)

    Bebe - Yes it is. Someone told me that just being aware of this happening is a positive step forward.

    Thank you, Julie. Sharing your dear mother’s story took courage. How she must have loved you! I am so sorry to hear that she didn’t make it out of there. A life in such a marriage is really no life at all.

    Yes, Karen!

    Laura - Ten years is a long time! It’s heartening to know that she did reveal the abuse, even if 10 years later.

    Crystal - Thank you. I am sorry to hear about your sister. It’s trust and respect that are trampled on in both cases. The things women put up with for the kids’ sake.

    Kary - Thank you. You just never do know…

    I certainly hope so, Cindy. She might be ready to trust more, little by little. I know she’s reading all the well wishes, and has that newfound courage only arrived at through the support of the kindness of others.

    Thank you, Adrienne. It isn’t quite the same, you know. You create with your hands, the things your mind sees.
    Your beautiful wishes and blessings are received.

    Mwa - It is so difficult not knowing how to give the courage, isn’t it?

    Constance - Yes, there are places like that. And she knows about them. Thank you for your prayers.

  37. Mama Zen Says:

    Too many times, for far too many women and children!

  38. Bunny Says:

    Angie, This is so difficult to read. I hope she finds the strength to leave because it will only get worse. What makes people so evil?

  39. christina Says:

    i send prayers to all. prayers and strength.

  40. rick Says:

    Angie- it’s good that a writer of your ability would take on such important subjects. I can’t help but wonder where such twisted anger generates from and how one can be attracted to it for even a moment. But the word vulnerable comes to mind. Excellent post. ~rick

  41. She Writes Says:

    Yes, a house is facade. One never knows what happens between two people.

  42. Holly L Says:

    I am constantly amazed by what is really happening with in people and relationships especially when their facade seems so “perfect.” We all do things and have to do things for a reason. It i so hard to watch a friend “suffer” without any hope of really being able to do anything other than be there for her when/if she needs it.

  43. Phoenix Says:

    Oh God, this story makes me so sad. Having never been in an abusive relationship but having been raised in a home where my parents had one, I can’t say that I think it’s easy for her to just leave with the kids - but the kids know. And there is a very real possibility that those kids will pick up the patterns they saw with their parents and create them all over again.

  44. Bridgette Says:

    My Mother was a victim of domestic violence, she stayed with him for 25 years…for the sake of her children.
    Still, 35 years later, when I see old neighbors, they had no idea.
    I’m glad he’s dead.

  45. audrey Says:

    i just want to sweep her and her children up in my arms, and run real fast, away from all that breaks her heart.

  46. angiem Says:

    Mama Zen - So true. And so tragic.

    Bunny - I don’t know. I wish I did. And I hope she does too.

    Thank you, Christina.

    Rick - As long as she remains in the situation, she is vulnerable.

    Amy - Yes it is.

    Holly - It’s often the people who put up this “my life is perfect” facade that have underlying issues.

    Tracy - That is the scariest thing! That the kids will pick up this pattern of abuse and display it later in life is where the real tragedy lies.

    Bridgette - I am so very sorry for your mom. I’m glad he’s dead too.

    Audrey - You are so sweet. Thank you! Missed you, girl. :)

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