Perspiration trickled down the back of my neck as I tried to discreetly glance at my watch, twenty minutes until our session ends. Pushing hair back from my face I became convinced that between menopause and the broken air conditioner that I’m going to die. Closing my eyes I tilt my head back while a rather pregnant young girl spoke. Sophia’s voice sounded soft matching her personality. I thought “her voice suits her”. Opening my eyes, I tried to feign interest in what she was sharing but was rapidly losing the battle to the heat. As she explained the events of the week, elephant tears dropped from her big brown eyes. In an effort to reassure her one of the older women slide over and wrapped an arm around Sophia’s shoulders saying, “It’s going to get easier, Honey. Things always work out.”
Now I was interested, “Don’t tell her that!” I blurted out. Followed at once by, “Sorry” for disregarding the no interrupting rule.
The older women’s eyebrow lifted as she replied, “I’m trying to be nice!”
“We’re not here to be nice! We’re here to help each other! You can’t promise her it’s going to get easier or work out because you don’t know,” Turning my attention to Sophia and ignoring the glares I press on, “I’m being real with you. You need to be told the truth not a half-truth; Life will be tough; no one can guarantee that anything will work out!”
Karen, the counselor, tossed me the speaking ball, “Okay, We’ll let Teri start the feedback for Sophia.”
Taking a second to gather my thoughts I paused and lowered the volume of my voice, “Sophia, without question you need to leave. Ted is going to kill you. You’re covered in bruises. Your eye is black and you’re pregnant!” I pressed my lips together drawing a deep breath. I began to speak as air gradually exhaled, “You’re barely married you should be in your honeymoon period. If you leave him, he won’t be able to beat on you, but precautions will have to be enforced to keep you safe. A few things may change right away. One effect might be the intense tension that comes from being under constant surveillance will fade. You’ll be able to sleep deeper at night and breathe easier during the day, hopefully, without glancing over your shoulder.” leaning forward “I wish we could guarantee that Ted will leave you alone, but more likely than not, you’re going to have to make that happen. There are other things too, for instance, what a Judge says is fair and what you consider fair may be two different thoughts. I pray family will stick by you, call and visit you. Many families don’t. This group will help in every way possible, but the truth is it will be hard and you must be tough.”
After work, I use to drive home and park in front of our house. I sat staring at the front door dreading what was on the other side. More than once I became tempted to drive away, far away. To get my body to walk through the door, I told myself how much easier life would be once I got a divorce. I knew better. In the shadows of my mind lurked uneasiness. It’s that feeling you get when you are only being told a half-truth.
I wasn’t the only one telling me half-truths. In an effort to be supportive friends, family, loved ones reassured me that life would be better and easier. On one occasion when picking my daughter up from her counseling session the counselor made this statement, “all the stress will be gone and you will notice an over whelming sense of relief! Life will be great.”
In our little group, we have seen that statements like “Don’t worry things always work out for the best” or “Everything will get easier!” isn’t the norm. Few women have families that jump in to help, find the courts reasonable, and the ‘ex’ to be decent. Most ladies are fortunate to get even one of these.
Just to name a few examples:
- Lady 1 was killed in front of her four-year-old by her husband the day she left.
- Lady 2 receives $100 a month in child support. She has two under age children and two in college.
- Lady 3 shares custody of her two daughters with her ex who beat her so severely that she spent a week in ICU.
- Lady 4 never gets her child support. So she and her 3 kids moved into her parent’s three-bedroom apartment. Three of her siblings likewise live in the same house.
- We have several women with ex’s who won’t leave them alone. No matter how often the police are called.
I don’t believe people think much about what a survivor’s life will be like during or after the divorce. People put more thought into what is being escaped than what victims are facing. Victims generally aren’t concerned with their present circumstances in other words what’s being escaped; they recognize the wrongness, but for the most part, know how to maneuver through it on a daily basis. When the decision is made to make the move from victim to survivor you analyze and agonize over every prospect of what is in front of you. It’s foreign territory every obstacle is new terrain. So when someone tells us a half-truth not to worry, or things will get easier, or it will get better it comes off dismissive as if you don’t understand, don’t care, or you are belittling their circumstances.
I don’t accept everything always works out, gets easier, or even gets better. Unfortunately, sometimes the abuser wins whether it’s by taking the victim’s life or because the victim is so bruised, she unable to move forward. Sometimes even with taking all the right steps life won’t give her a break.
Instead of telling a half-truth, I assure her I will pray, show her I will listen, tell her I will lend a hand in any way I am able. Then I follow with action I pray, listen and lend a hand in any way I am able.
Generally, I am a happy person. I smile and laugh often. Not really an outgoing person but not an introvert. Unless asked I don’t give my opinion. This Journal entry is my perspective and opinion that formed from personal observation and experience. What I have absorbed in group and life. It’s not optimistic, but it’s the truth as I see it.