Sharon examined the purplish black bruising under her right eye.  Gingerly, she tried to dab on her Cover Girl concealer, but winced and drew back from the pain.  No tears fell.  She had learned long ago that it never helped.  Actually, this time was not so bad:  a bruise or two, a small cut on the lip when it was driven by his fist into her inscisor.  She had experienced worse.  Last night, at least he stopped short of choking her, his new favorite pasttime. Maybe he was in the Christmas Spirit. She tried a mirthless laugh, but it hurt to pull in a deep breath.  

The kids had stopped crying pretty quickly after she had ordered them to bed so early.  She knew it was coming.  She had seen the look in his eyes.  A mask of rage and hatred contorted his once handsome face into the “thing”. She yelled at them to go to bed and they did so with blank faces.  They too knew of the futility of tears or protests..  

As she exited the bathroom, the house was silent save for the loud snores coming from the couch.  She walked into the kid’s bedroom, where her two beautiful daughters were dressed and sitting quietly on the bed.  She would have preferred screams and tears. The resignation reflected in their faces crushed her heart.

As she gathered them up for a sleepover at her mom’s, she silently vowed that this was the last time he would put them through this.  Tonight was New Years Eve.  She would pack up and leave tonight while he was at work.  Tomorrow would be their NEW BEGINNING: a fresh start.  

The thought of what he would do if she left terrified her. But the knowledge that he would not stop terrified her more.  How many threats had he made?  She believed every one.  How many times had she lied to the cops, the school, the social workers that everything was fine. She fell down steps, walked into doors, tripped over the dog.   They must think she was the clumsiest woman on Earth.

But she had not dared to tell the truth.  He had warned her.  He would kill the girls.  He had warned the girls.  He would kill their mommy.  She had not dared to cross him.  Even her own family didn’t know how bad it was as they put on the act of the century on the rare ocassions they were allowed to visit.  No, there was no one to help. She hadn’t let anyone in.  Until now.

She heard a radio spot about a place that would take her and the girls.  It was protected and hidden from the public.  She called them and almost cried when they told her that not only would they protect her but would help her to navigate the legal system and social systems so that she can start over with her girls in another location.  It was almost too much to believe.

She realized she was humming as she drove.  She saw the puzzled look on the faces of two little girls in the back seat.  She talked with them about behaving at grandma’s house and they nodded robotic consent.  As she took them up the walk to her mother’s door, she hugged them tightly and told them she would come get them the next day for an adventure.  They waved to her as she got back into the car and drove away.

They never saw her again.

Social Workers, Law Enforcement Officers, Judges, Neighbors, Families:  Don’t shake your head and judge her.  Don’t ask each other why she had stayed in an abusive situation. Don’t offer the platitude that had she loved her children she would have left earlier.  Before it got so bad. Before he strangled the life out of her on New Years Eve.

Don’t blame yourself either.  You will wonder.  what more could I have done?  How could I have engaged her more to build a trust.  What resources could I have offered her to help her get safe?  What could I have noticed in the children to clue me in. How did I miss it?

The only one to blame is him.  Not her.  Not you.

But we can learn.  

About domestic violence and the cycle of abuse

About resources in our community that provide safety and shelter to battered women

About early trauma in children and what that looks like.

About how to take the time to listen with our third ear.

Instead of making New Years resolutions you will not keep past March, Resolve to learn more about DV, trauma and abuse to sharpen the tools in your toolbox.  Because next week you will have another client like Sharon. 

And she needs you.

40 thoughts on “A New Beginning?

    1. No. She was killed by her husband that night. In my work I see this a lot. Not my usual blog post, but felt compelled to write this. Maybe God wanted someone who is in a DV relationship or knows someone who is needed to read it. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. this brought tears to my eyes. I know there is so much pain in the world. Sometimes I feel so helpless towards it. I would love to read sometime your thoughts on anything that someone who is not a social worker can do.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Good suggestion. I will work on that. Ellie we all touch people in some way. And we can affect such positive changes whether we have a social work degree or not. I can tell your heart is one of compassion, which is the most important ingredient in affecting others towards healing.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39

    I understand that evil is a legitimate force because it is created and is under the dominion of God.
    Therefore, God has offered us, and has offered Himself in His Son, and leads us to THE LORD JESUS.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Your writing really brought domestic abuse and violence in relationships to life – it is horrifying, and society’s habit of victim-blaming doesn’t help. Thank you for raising awareness of this.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. People really underestimate the corrosive effect of living with the constant threat of abuse and often do blame the woman for staying. Thanks for pointing out the real culprit. May our boys learn how to handle strong feelings without resorting to violence.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Your post brought to light the gravity of this matter. It was good. Overall your blog is really good not just in term of how you wrote it, but it’s content as well. I have made sure to follow to read more!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your very kind words and for appreciating My blog. I really just want in to encourage those people who put everything they have on the line every day to help others. I look forward to reading more of yours in the future as well

      Liked by 2 people

  5. A well written short story about a tragically, all too common truth! I love the premise of your blog and thank you for following mine! I’ve recently submitted an article to Recovering The Self about the impact of vicarious trauma on my social work career – waiting to hear if it will be published. I firmly believe we need to talk more about compassion fatigue, burn out and vicarious trauma in the lives of social workers and other helping professions. Writing about it is another tool social workers can put in their self-care toolbox. Your blog is a gift I very much appreciate. Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My theories on this are still evolving, however I honestly believe that making a serious effort to tackle mental and emotional abuse might eventually make everything else fall into place.
    I believe the system needs to become more familiar with Cluster B’s and the way they operate.

    Liked by 3 people

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