09 September 2018

He Had Plans For Her: Part Two 




by Mary Fernando

When Eve escaped, she took her children and went into hiding. She remained nervous and constantly vigilant. He had resources. He was cunning. He could show up at any time. She tried to shrug these fears off, but they haunted her. 

Four months later, Eve was in her kitchen. The children were in their rooms. The lights were low. It was night. As she emerged from the kitchen, she saw the end of his gun highlighted in the moonlight. It was pointed at her.

A ten inch cast iron skillet was in reach. She grabbed it and held it at by her side. As she walked up to him, with the gun pointed at her throat, she hit him in the head with all her strength and he went down. She looked at him and thought: I could hit him again and end this threat.

She suddenly saw her young son, looking at her from the hallway. Her eldest. He was his son too. She didn't kill him that night. She couldn’t. She called the police. 

This is not the end of this story. There is no happy ending with police stepping up and protecting Eve.

After being in jail for a little over a week, he bailed himself out and then went to a neighbouring county and filed charges of assault against Eve. Yes. That is the nature of abusers: they feel that they can manipulate the world into allowing them to abuse and kill. They have no shame. They are – in their own minds – the one who is the real victim, forced to hurt this woman because, above all else, she deserves it.

Even now, after many years have passed, Eve remains vigilant. Eve remains in danger: over half of all the murders of women in the United States are related to intimate partner violence.

The most pervasive danger Eve faces, despite the safe life for herself and her children, is that reality can’t protect her. Whether asleep or awake, without warning, she is right back there, in his clutches, being abused and beaten, with fear flooding her and making her unable to breathe. At any moment, something can remind her of a terrifying moment and adrenaline floods her brain and sends her heart racing. At times she is numb. At times she is frightened. At times she simply withdraws and hides.

This was his plan for her: to never let her go, to never let her live her life without his presence forging her into a fearful compliance. 

Eve is now both free of him and yet haunted by him. This in-between place is what we call PTSD.

Eve has said, unequivocally, that you can’t talk about domestic violence without talking about PTSD. Eve is not alone in drowning in her past: of the 1 in 3 women and 1 in four men who have been victims of domestic violence, over half experience PTSD.

His plans for Eve was to forever keep her fearful of him. PTSD allows him to haunt her.

Treating PTSD is a critical part of fighting domestic violence. A specialist told me: PTSD treatment is long, hard and of variable effectiveness. We need investment in more research on methods of treatment and more investment in making treatment available for patients.

The best protection for women and men in situations of domestic violence is to give them a safe haven and to prosecute their abusers. The best vengeance against domestic abusers is something altogether different: it is for their ex-partners to finally and decisively put them in the rear view mirror and watch them get smaller and less important as they move forward with life.


3 comments:

O'Neil De Noux said...

An excellent, informative blog again, Mary. Thanks for putting these up.

Eve Fisher said...

Absolutely 100% true post. Abusers always try to twist the narrative to make themselves the victim - and then, when they've got their prey back, use it as another weapon.

mary fernando said...

Thank you so much for reading O'Neil.
Eve- yes. Disgusting is the word that comes to mind.