One of my business clients came to a meeting with a black eye and a battered lip. I asked if she had time to grab a cup of coffee with me after our meeting and she agreed, although somewhat reluctantly.
I asked her to tell me how she had come about the injuries and after a few minutes of assuring her she was safe in telling me she agreed.
I was shocked and overwhelmingly dismayed as she told me her story, but forced myself to remain calm and have no reaction to her story.
She had been married for 18 years. The first five years were pleasant enough with no blatant signs of abuse. There were obvious passive aggressive incidents, but to Cindy they were of no significant consequence. She was willing to put up with a few bad temper outbursts because she loved her husband and believed it was because of something she had done or not done. She vowed to try harder to make him happier each time it happened.
But after ten years the abuses became blatant and more frequent. She experienced emotional, physical and sexual abuse. She was worn out and nearly suicidal, vacillating between depression and fits of anger.
I asked if she would consider leaving her husband and she said she had tried several times but he always found her and physically forced her to come back.
It’s hard to imagine anyone could be subjected to such devastating treatment, but it’s a story that happens all too often.
We worked together on a plan for more than three months. My real fear is it would be too late by the time we would be able to implement the plan.
Finally everything was in place. I bought her a plane ticket and she was able to move to Southern California where she had a new job.
Through several friends we were able to find her a room with a single woman that was within walking distance to her job. She threw away her cell phone and petitioned to change her name through the courts there.
These drastic measures were the only possible method of protecting Cindy and fortunately, she stayed strong enough to see the plan through.
I refrained from contacting her as another precaution and she agreed to not contact any of her friends nor her family from a traceable phone.
It was extreme, but effective. About five years after Cindy had moved I received a call from her telling me that her life was what she wanted it to be. Her job was wonderful, she had several promotions and she even went back to school to gain new skills.
She met a man who was gentle and respectful, but she wasn’t ready to talk about marriage. She felt she still had more healing to do.