A friend

[The subject of this post has not seen it, does not know what I’m writing in it, and has not approved it.]

She’s smart. Articulate. Thoughtful. She’s funny as hell, and has a sharp, clever, filthy wit. She’s young – in her early 20s, courageous. And her husband beats her mercilessly.

In the short time I’ve known her she’s been hospitalized twice by, operated on as a result of, and lost a job as a result of her husband’s beatings.  Recently, she fled home with nothing but an iPhone and a single withdrawal from the family’s bank account at an ATM.

Less than two days after fleeing, her husband found her and beat her again. The beating was sufficiently severe as to send her to the hospital again, and him to jail. Now, she awaits the first of two surgeries resulting from this latest beating (last Monday).  In the hospital, she has given statements to the police about her treatment at his hands, has met with counselors, and has reduced a doctor to tears with her tale.

She doesn’t think she has it in her to take him to court for his abuse of her. She worries that he’s going to press charges against her because he says the $300 with which she left belonged to him, not her. And, for a moment this afternoon, she entertained the possibility that she could go back to him, that this time, things would be different – that “maybe this is enough to make him realize he can’t get away with the abuse, maybe it would be different now.” Immediately after she typed those words, she typed, “ACTUALLY FORGET I SAID THAT,” and, “NO. I didn’t just say that.”

But over the last few days, her fear, anxiety, weariness, and confusion has led her a number of times to imagine returning to the hell she knows, rather than the new one she’s enduring. As it is, she worries – she worries for her parents, for whom she fears (her husband, she says, would happily harm them, has threatened them). She worries for herself – she sees clearly that she’s starting from scratch, that she truly has nothing. She sees this more clearly than she sees that she has nothing to lose – though at times she sees this, too.

She sees a potential court battle ahead of her, against a strong man with money. And her court-appointed lawyer has been AWOL, at least so far. She sees a counselor once a day, and hasn’t yet begun participating in a group of women facing similar challenges.

It’s no wonder she imagines that returning to the hell she just fled might be better than the one to which she has fled.

But here’s the thing:

She is smart. She knows – in her bones – that no human deserves to be beaten mercilessly, repeatedly. She knows that a woman whose husband breaks her ribs, beats her about the face, such that she requires multiple surgeries, must leave that man.  She knows what awaits if she stays – that she will soon bring this man children, that her life will never improve, but that his cruelty will increase. She knows what she must do, but, understandably, she is scared. And tragically, she is alone.

She has no one to turn to, no real friends, no community of like-minded people to sympathize with her plight, to help her strategize a wise exit from her prison. In spite of that? She made her exit – she left, on her own. Now, she’s sitting in a hospital bed, her iPhone in her hand, wondering what to do next.


  1. I am not a religious or spiritual person by any stretch of the word, the exact opposite in fact, but I will hope with all my heart that your friend is able to stay away from that man. She will certainly be in my thoughts.

  2. Finding the strength to get out of a horrible situation when the alternatives seem rough as well must feel like a catch-22. I’m a stranger to this woman, and presumably far, far away as well. I don’t feel like there’s much I can do except hold out hope that she’ll find whatever resources (internal and external) she needs to find freedom.

  3. This comment was left on Google+, where I also put this post. The comment was from Kassia Winters, a friend of the blog and the author of the blog “Red Silk Diaries.”

    You have taken my breath away with her story N. I don’t live in NY so I have no concept of the laws or services she has to work with. I can say, as a child of an abused woman….she has started a journey that will last her whole life and gain her a peace and hope I am sure she has suffered without for too long. The one thing that got my mother though the fear, the lonliness, the loss was a mantra she spoke to herself time and again….”Don’t waste this pain.” When it hurts and its frightening perhaps she can benefit from reminding herself that she has already paid a terrible price and more is to come in the recovery process…to turn back…to give up or give in would be to waste what she has suffered, to render it valueless. Thank you for sharing her story…my heart goes out to you both…the friend of the wounded suffers as well. <3

  4. I have no words of comfort, though I wish with all my heart I did. I can say this—if you had friends you were cut off from, reach out to them. I waited six years for a friend to come back to us. There was no time or love lost, I was just there, so we’re others.
    Take one day at a time, make small choices: don’t go back, don’t stop, don’t lose what you’ve gained no matter how little it seems. It’s not. It’s huge.

  5. I’m sending positive vibes her way because it’s the only thing I can do. I hope she finds it in her to walk away for good. I hope people on the outside try to help, try to understand what a difficult situation she’s in. People give up on women like your friend. I really , really hope they don’t .

  6. No one is every truly alone although it’s often hard to see that when you are in the middle of the storm. I hope not only that she finds the support she needs but that they find her when she has trouble reaching out. No one should have to go through the trauma of abuse much less go through the recovery from it alone. I hope she finds the community she needs to give her the courage and strength to move forward.

  7. My heart aches for her, wishing there was more I could do for her besides thinking of her and hoping with all my heart that she will get the help she needs and deserves. I hope she can realize how valuable her life is, how strong she is for taking this huge step and that she finds it in herself to never go back to that monster. I can’t even begin to imagine what she is going through but I hope so badly that this will be a new start for her. As for you, sweet N, you have a great heart and I can only imagine that being witness to her story and writing this is painful too, you’re a good man <3

  8. I can never, nor even try to imagine, the pain, anguish, torment,confusion and everything else that our friend is going through N. All I can do is hope and wish that she has the to start over and see what is awaiting her when she does. I also can not, nor will try, to understand what you are going through with her on this journey. From reading your blog, I have come to see you are a man of passion and compassion as well. I hope for you to have the continued strength to stand by your friends side as she goes through this.

  9. Last week I read a story about a grandmother/school bus driver in upper state New York who was mercilessly bullied on the bus by a bunch of 7th graders till she cried her eyes out. Some wonderful soul started a campaign(I don’t remember the name) but it was where anyone could donate to this women’s cause. Now the person who saw the video of the bullying was so appauled he just wanted to raise enough money to send this grandmother on a nice vacation. His goal was to raise $5,000. Within 36 hours of the story going viral people donated over $250,000 to her cause.
    Here’s my point, why can’t something like this be done for this woman? I personally would donate money if it meant she never returned to that asshole. A place to live, money for therapy, etc. I can’t think that this can’t be done. N, if you’re willing to do some leg work, and I’ll see if I can find the sight that handles the donations…I’d be willing to help and know others that would too.

  10. N — I don’t understand. I read your tweet “I just wrote a heartbreaking story. Go read it. And write encouragement. A human’s life depends on it.” How, exactly, does this person’s life depend on people’s encouragement on a blog post she hasn’t approved and doesn’t know exists? Who are your commenters supposed to be encouraging?

    Obviously, I don’t know the details of your relationship or know anything about her level of comfort with you posting her deeply personal story on your own public blog. All I know is what you’ve said–that she doesn’t know about it and hasn’t approved of what’s in it.

    Perhaps you might explain to your readers why you’ve posted this and what you want you want to achieve with it. More importantly, you might ask her if she’s okay with what you’ve said and whatever it is that you’re doing here.

    Without her permission, this seems like an incredible violation of her privacy and her trust (especially when she’s dealing with so many other horrific abuses right now).

    1. I understand and appreciate your points, and I should have done a better job of explaining just how you can help.

      But first, I’m confident that I didn’t “invade her privacy.” I’ll write more about that in coming days, but for now, suffice it to say that I’m confident she’s just fine with what I wrote, but it’s not in her interest to communicate that, and I respected her safety by NOT clearing what I wrote with her. She is aware of what I wrote, and I have no reason to believe she is anything other than appreciative.

      As to what you can do – she has no community, no people encouraging her, and she is vulnerable to her husband’s manipulations. I’m eager that she read sense from people who have her best interest at heart, ideally including some women who have survived abuse. Some new relationships, even virtual ones, could only help.

  11. Strange thing to read here. This is sick, shocking and upsetting. It’s not entertainment. Getting Past your Past blog – I think the author and abuse survivor is based in NY. There is a community of help and survivors, a blog, book, workshops. Get her to the website fast. Show needs a lifeboat right now. This is addiction (to a person) and denial. People like this die from physical or mental stress (or self medication) to deal with the pain. Recovery is possible.

    1. I don’t know the blog to which you refer. My friend, alas, isn’t in New York – but I’m with you on the urgency of her finding a community of people with similar experiences.

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