I recently dropped a couch on my foot. I was really lucky and ended up only black and blue. But the colorful marks reminded me of a woman I worked with years ago who showed up at work with a black eye. She was an officer in our company, back when that was rare for a woman. Although we worked together only a little, her office was just a few feet from my cube so we were pretty friendly, exchanging small talk nearly every day. Knowing what could have caused her injury I nearly didn’t say anything, but given her education level and position, I assumed there was a now semi-humorous story of some kind of accident involving a garden tool or night time trip to the bathroom. I was wrong. She admitted her husband had hit her, but said she had deserved it. She had been upset, “uncontrollable” after learning, I believe, that her friend’s husband had died. She had deserved it. I’ve never forgotten those words. I would respond differently today, but then I was young, and she significantly outranked me. Plus I had made her explain what had to be a painful and embarrassing incident. I left her office as quickly as I could.
I’ve never understood why women put up with abusers. I certainly don’t fault them in any way, but I feel fortunate that my mother was the role model she is. I’m strong, and my daughters are strong. Poor Russ probably suffers some from living with three strong women, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he does. His late mother was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. She had to be to raise her twelve boys and two girls with never enough money, and those two girls were tougher than the boys–they had to be, too. We don’t worry much about our girls from this perspective; we’re deliberately raising them to be strong-willed and opinionated. Heaven help their husbands, but they will be able to take care of themselves, and hopefully the odds of them–or their daughters–ever saying “I deserved it” is zero. Because nobody deserves that.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline (800) 799-SAFE
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anyone else in the universe, deserve your love and affection.” –Buddha