Sunday, May 6, 2012

An Inkling of an Understanding

It doesn't really make sense to me, these rolling waves of domestic violence touching people I know. First, I discovered a few weeks ago that someone I (formerly) greatly admire was arrested for it. And then, yesterday, I read of the clearly tortured father of a classmate of Daughter's who took his estranged wife hostage and threatened to kill himself. But the final wave came yesterday afternoon, brought even frighteningly more to the forefront when such an act of violence against a wife and children was witnessed by someone very close to me.

I had already been dwelling in the past given the morning's report on the classmate's dad taking his wife prisoner and finally surrendering after close to six hours.

I remember so clearly fearing that my dad would go off the deep end and kill my mom. Worse than that -- yeah, worse, selfish me -- was the very real fear I had as a teenager that he would one day kill me as well. I remember.

Here I sit, then, feeling relieved that this one father had the presence of mind to make sure his kids were not a witness to his hostage-taking. And feeling so afraid for that other family still out there. To react so violently against your wife and son in a public place, where anyone could -- and someone did -- witness it makes me feel that, however well they might have managed to hide their dirty little secret before, they won't be able to hide it much longer.

What do you do? It so clearly isn't the first time it's happened. No one who observes the father on the soccer sidelines can doubt he is a brute. But a brute who beats up women and kids? Is that so clear to the other parents? Do the parents who engage in conversation with him suspect he's a wife beater? If they do, how can they talk to him? What power does he wield over them that makes them complicit or, if I am to be generous, submissive? How can anyone sit idly by?

We can't, can we? Do we say, "It's her choice. She has to stop it"? Do we say that about the beating of children? If we say nothing and do nothing and try nothing, we are complicit. We share his shame and their shame.

My fears of my dad coming to kill my mother and me were amplified when my own classmate's father managed to kill his ex-wife and then hang himself in jail. I wonder if her fears of what's next are amplified given what just happened in this same small town. I wonder if her boys' fears are. Maybe she'll do it for them now, if not for herself.

Maybe, just maybe, now that there's a witness, she can see a way out. We can be your way out. We all can be.


Josie Two Shoes said...

This is the hardest most heart-breaking situation, Patty. Many of us have either been in this place of fear and knowing no way out or knowing someone who was and trying desperately to convince them it was time to leave. I wish there were easy answers. Every time we look away another child suffers and dies. Every time we ignore the signs, another spouse is battered or psychologically beaten down. Would I call the police if I suspected, you bet I would! Would it help, I can only pray so but at least I could live with having tried. And if I had a friend I suspected was in a situation like this I would be brave enough to sit them down and say "look" do you see what is happening here. I wish someone had done that much sooner with me. Shame keeps dark secrets, no one know, no one had a clue. I'm sure the same was true for you.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had words of wisdom or comfort to offer. I hate that I have neither. Know how much I love you. And Pete and the kids. But you, most of all. Ginny


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