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Domestic Violence Week (A Literary Interpretation)

October 20, 2009 | Comments Off on Domestic Violence Week (A Literary Interpretation)

You’d have to get close to see the red-purple bruises on her dark-brown skin.  The impressions of his thumb in the top of her collar bone, branching out to the thick twin lines that curved, almost, to the back of her neck. She covered them with make up and remembered how she couldn’t breathe.

The other bruises could be covered with clothing. The ones on the arms she’d brought up, uselessly, to try and push him away. She’d thought, in her anger and fear, that’d she would have been stronger. That she could have done damage.

God knows, she’d tried. The words that came out of her mouth, swear and others, had been said in anger, some chosen to provoke him. Fed up, she’d gotten in his face. Had been inches from his face, screaming. How tired she was, how he was never home and couldn’t be working all the time–since there was never any money. Every cent seemed to be going to the essentials. Food. Rent. Cars. Gas. Credit Card. Heat. Light. Cable. Clothes. Loans they’d had to take out for the food, rent, cars, gas, credit card, heat, light, cable and clothes. Marcus, their son, who’d slept through the noise or stayed in his room, was two and went through clothes almost as fast as he went through diapers.

Fed up, frustrated, tired, and lonely, she’d yelled at him. Gotten in his face, called him names, accused him of things she didn’t really believe were true. (Yes, he worked late, at one temporary job after another since he’d been “downsized,” but had never given her reason to suspect he’d been unfaithful.) She wanted him to understand where she was coming from–feel the hurt, get angry, maybe, and somehow do better. Instead, his hands had wrapped themselves around her throat.

She blended the make up carefully over her bruises. She didn’t want questions. Her sisters, mother, cousins, friends, co-workers, offering advice she didn’t want to take. Saying that they would have killed him, or at least called the cops. All the while they’d be looking at her in pity and amazement, asking “how could she have chosen/stayed with/had a child by a man like that?” Thinking that the woman they knew was stronger and smarter than that, that she, and her family, had seemed to have it together.

She was strong. Strong and practical enough to see the foolishness of their suggestions. The cops? When had they ever helped anyone who looked like her? And what–restraining order? Kick him out of the house she couldn’t afford by herself? Kick Marcus’ father out of his life, and chance that he’d pay child support? Marcus needed to keep his father, and she needed to keep him too. He was a good man. He worked hard and hadn’t cheated on her. He loved her, and he loved his son. She didn’t want him out of their lives–much less in jail, another black man. A good black man.

He was a good man, and she was strong. She would talk to him about it, gently, and he would apologize. He would promise not to hurt her again, and probably wouldn’t. She, in turn, would be more supportive. She’d be nicer to him and keep her own anger in check.

Finished. Even from the short distance between herself and the mirror you couldn’t really see the bruises.  To see them, you’d have to get close.

Fact  As with women of other races, among African American women killed by their partner, the lethal violence was more likely to occur if there had been incidents in which the partner had used or threatened to use a weapon on her and/or the partner has tried to choke or strangle her.–American Bar Association, Commission on Domestic Violence;



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