“Maryanne” She said to me. “We are going to get married”.
Ginny and Eric had been going together for about five months. Finally! A happy, comfortable,
relationship. This after a horrific series of relationships with “strong” men. That is a euphemism
for controlling, demanding, and at least verbally if not physically abusive. She had turned up at
work in tears with circles under her eyes, bruises and even sexually transmitted infections.
“Ginny, are you sure you’re not jumping into this? He’s the first guy in forever that’s treated
you nicely. Could it be you’re mistaking that for love?”
“No. We are really easy together. We like the same things. He is thoughtful, buys me presents.
Clothes mostly. And he cooks. He keeps me out of the kitchen. I don’t have to worry about
anything. Just do the dishes.” “And the sex. Wow! We do have to be careful with my herpes,
but he gets it – uses a condom when I have an outbreak. He doesn’t love it but who would?”
She balked at the suggestion that they give it time. They were in love and please would I be her
maid of honor.
I put a smile on my face. “Sure, I’d be honored.” Two months later, on the lawn by the lake, the
vows were spoken. “I do!”
The next two, three months were blissful. Buying a home. An old farmhouse. It wasn’t her
choice as it needed a lot of work. But Eric was good with tools and felt that he could tackle the
project. She acquiesced. Then the pregnancy happened, and an outbreak and the concern of a
herpes birth. Still, no real complaints, the house was coming along. A caesarian delivered their
son without problems. All was good.
Eric was losing sleep. And patience with the crying at night, and during the day, and the
breastfeeding took too much time. Couldn’t she go back to work? Why was dinner late?
“Lazy. Stupid. I can’t work on the house with all this baby stuff around.”
So, she did get back to work, and she dropped off the baby on her way, though it was out of her
way and on his way. And she picked up the baby on her not on the way home even though he
was a teacher and got out of work two hours earlier than she.
And on it went with belittling, name calling, limitations on where she could go and who she
could go with. Eric just could not be appeased. There were more days of missed work, bruises,
It is hard to witness a friend’s torture. Offers to help cast off, treading the line between support
and interference, knowing when she left work, she would be reentering a world of abuse. Every
“How is it all affecting Baby Billy?” We would ask.
“It can’t be good.”
“Call if you need to talk.”
And so, it went on for the next few years.
One day when Billy was four. Ginny was in the kitchen; Billy was at the table playing with a
stuffed bear. It fell to the floor.
“Pick it up, Cunt!”
Were the words she needed to hear out of a babe’s mouth to begin the process of extricating
herself from the Hell she was living in. Ginny tried broaching the subject of separation which
brought on wrath, threats of custody battles and bodily harm. She needed a plan. Start
squirreling away cash. Contact a lawyer. Getaway Bag at a friend’s house. Another three years
of silent purgatory. Always trying to avoid conflict. Pushing down the deep sadness at the
hateful words hurled from the man she once loved and the boy still the dearest to her heart. No
matter that her friends were at the ready for support, buoyancy, love. Ginny felt alone. Alone
to meet with her attorney. Alone when she left work. Alone in her bed at night.
It took three more years for the contentious divorce to be final. Lies. Blame. Negotiations. In
the end, they each took what they brought to the marriage, sold the house, settled on shared
custody. But the damage was done. Billy had been brainwashed. Love and counseling were not
enough to undo the hate and anger he had witnessed. Ginny couldn’t make it work. She gave
up. Gave Eric the custody he threatened her with.
A woman lost her son.
A boy lost his mother.
Another abuser won.