Thursday, April 01, 2010

It is, really, all about blood.

There was blood on my front door. There was blood on the pedestal of the toilet, from a cut on her leg. There was blood in the sink--less blood than you might expect, but enough to stain it. There was blood on a door frame, where she'd richocheted off in coming through to the bathroom, where I put cold cloths on her ruined face.

An old friend of mine went looking for a beating and got it. Or maybe not; maybe she was looking only for resolution of the awful telephone calls her ex-lover had been making, and she didn't think he'd actually get violent again.

He did, and she showed up on my doorstep late at night, her face a mass of bruises and blood and snot, all mixing with her tears and her inability to speak.

I had never seen the damage one person could do to another, not up close without warning or intermediary. I've always seen it a couple of days after the fact, or in the clean environment of a clinic or shelter. It's never invaded my house and my peace before, not like this.

There were phone calls after that, and a conversation with a very nice cop with a twisted sense of humor, then trips to the police station and the emergency room. I found myself at home at two o'clock in the morning, making unanswered phone calls in an attempt to decompress. Eventually, unable to sleep, I called Nurse Ames, who I knew was working, and met her for breakfast a few hours later. Nurse Ames is sweet, soft-voiced, unflappable, and the toughest bitch kitty I know.

I got home to an email message from Land's End. Apparently, Sane Me had taken over and ordered Freaked-Out Me an entirely new set of bathroom towels. I needed them anyhow; the old ones are ragged and literally coming to pieces, even if they hadn't been spotted with blood.

There wasn't a lot of blood, but it wasn't blood I was prepared for or shielded from. It was blood that was born of a series of really, truly, amazingly bad decisions on the part of somebody I'd hoped would be smarter. It was blood that I didn't want to have to deal with, that should never have dripped on my floor, gotten smeared on my wall. There were myriad better ways to handle this that would've never meant bloodshed, and all those myriad ways got ignored. That left me to deal with the aftermath and the consequences and the public records and the police statements.

I am angry, and I am sick. I'm sick because the person who did the damage was methodical, almost scientific in his application of fists. I'm angry because the person to whom it was done knew better. She crawled back to the tiger cage after the tiger had taken off her leg. Nobody, ever, anywhere, deserves a beating--but you have a responsibility to your own self not to place yourself willingly into that situation when the alternative is easier.

There was no need for this. From start to finish, there was absolutely no need. I've had trouble sleeping since that night, and I've had trouble finishing both meals and sentences. I don't know what happened to my old friend; my first reaction--and I think it's a good one--was to offer help, and when that help was refused, I cut off contact. I don't need that brand of crazy coming around. Willfully putting oneself in harm's way without a larger purpose is not something I can support. Especially not when everyone around you has been campaigning against it for a year or more.

Things tonight are quiet. The dew has already risen; it's humid out, and we'll have storms in a few days, but for now everything smells fresh and new and, most of all, clean. The salvia is getting ready to explode in that way that it does, out in the front beds. Tomorrow I'll buy tomato plants and lavender and basil, scrub the remaining blood off of the grout in the bathroom, and change the sheets. In the afternoon I'll mow and plant and then lift weights.

I used to be annoyed by the amount of hair that my boys shed. Between Max and Notamus and Flashes, there's a lot of hair balling up and rolling around my floors. Now, though, I'm grateful that I can turn on the vacuum and have it be out of sight, out of mind, and gone.


AfterGirl said...

I am so sorry you had to go through that. It is hard to see someone we care for make such bad decisions.

Just My 2¢ said...

In a sense, it's too bad that we're thinking humans. If we were wolves, we'd drive such antisocial individuals out of the pack or get together and tear him apart with our teeth and claws. Nobody in the pack ever hurts a female wolf.

It's also a real shame that we've given up our individual responsibility to protect women, children, the infirm, the aged, etc and delegated it to law enforcement and the judicial system.

When my son-in-law hurt my daughter, the black eye I gave him was a better learning experience than a meeting with disinterested police and a judge, followed by a trip through a boring anger management class. He'd been through that once already and it didn't stick.

I'm not a bully. I'm a 52 year-old gray-haired, old fart who loves his daughter too much to allow a 35-year old strapping construction worker to hurt his kid. I actually expected to be decked, but hoped that it would buy her enough time to get out the door.

I wish every woman (of any age) could pick up a cel phone and say, "Dad, please come now. He hurt me." At least it would level the field of combat.

Shannon said...

I've always said that if a guy hits me, he better make sure I'm unconcious because if I'm not I'm getting up to kill him. I know its not that simple, that by the time violence enters the picture a person (because it happens both ways) has been criticized and controlled into thinking they deserve it.
My cousin married a 'man' this summer who posseses, controls, criticizes and isolates her and I wait with fear for the day when the call comes that he's hit her. I tried to make her see things straight but she believed that without him she would have no one and being alone was scarier to her than being with someone that has the potential to turn violent. We haven't spoken since I told her I didn't believe in her marriage and as such wouldn't be able to be a part of the ceremony.
Best of luck to your friend as she enters what will hopefully, finally be a recovery period.

AtYourCervix said...

All I can say, from being on the abused end of that type of relationship, is to listen and be there for her. It takes so much strength to finally leave -- for good - from an abusive relationship. Don't give up on her. Please.

Maha said...

That's horrible for everyone involved. Hope your friend can eventually put this behind her and I hope the asshole who did this to her rots in hell.

Homemaker Man said...

I'm sorry for your friend. Also, that was really good writing

Dr. Alice said...

My God. I don't know what to say, except that it's a truly good thing she could count on you to help when the chips were really down. I've been struggling with a patient in the same situation. They go back to the abuser: I don't know why, but they do. Hopefully this will be the last time.

woolywoman said...

so sorry. you were brave.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why they go back, they do not know how to get away. literally, they do not have the skills. Please don't give up on her - speaking from experience, having friends making you feel ashamed for not leaving makes you feel even more deserving of the abuse. That said, I'm so glad she knew she could go to you - I would want you in my corner too!
I echo above - great writing Nurse Inspiration Jo! love Biscuitx

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

I am really sorry to hear about your friend. Domestic violence is cruel to both parties in a marriage and made worse by the indifference of the cops and the judiciary. In India, cases pertaining to domestic violence are hushed up to safeguard family honor. I am sorry to see that in different parts of the world it continues to happen like this. Hope you have overcome the shock.

pelican said...

Okay, I know this is an old thread, but this story stuck with me and I needed to check back.

I didn't want to comment before because I didn't know how to say what I want to say without triggering a flame war, but ... Jo, if you want to walk away from this, WALK.

You have ZERO responsibility to stick around and watch helplessly while someone else fucks up her life.

I hear what some other commentators are saying, that it helped them to have friends who did stick around, BUT- a lot of people don't EVER leave abusive relationships.

I really have a problem with the idea that "good friendship" involves being willing to watch someone destroy themselves.

Cutting off contact with someone in an abusive relationship- whether the abuser is a person, drugs, gambling, whatever- is modeling having a boundary.

It's saying "Hey, when you do this, it feels like shit to me and I don't like it. I asked you to stop and you won't. So go away. I don't want you around anymore."

Jo's friend needs to learn how to put boundaries into practice. Jo refusing to stand by and watch is modeling those boundaries.

Jo, you're a good friend.

Anonymous said...

I was a victim before. Though he didn't hurt me physically, he abused me into believing that I was a useless, ugly no good for anything woman. It was hard to leave when he convinced me i was all that. It hurt so much i thought i could kill myself. Till this day nobody knew what really hurtful words and treatment he did to me.

As he didn't leave any physical marks on me, my family members and friends couldn't believe this 'good' son of bitch ever hurt me. What woke me up when my sis told me if i wanted my son to grow up believing its ok to hurt others emotionally or physically.

Please support her until something really wakes her out of her nightmare and gives her the courage and strength to stand up and walk out of the hell hole. I did and she will too.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, men get abused to by their wives too. Unfortunately, daily verbal abuse is not illegal, it's impossible to prove in court. So divorce is the solution.