A Tragic Return

She’s young, in her early thirties. She just realized she is pregnant, and this is her sixth child. Pregnant again. One more tie to him. She’s wished for awhile they had never met. She is the only one working now, after he lost his job and the house foreclosed. He stays at home with the kids. He is getting antsy, though. Now, he has started in on the kids. It used to just be her. It was okay when it was just her, but not the kids.

She stepped into our office, and we groaned. Not another intake. We didn’t want it to be busy that day. When she sat down, the tears exploded. Personally, I was tired. I couldn’t do another of these stories. Most of the time, I didn’t think the abuse was all that bad. I was becoming jaded about what was “real” abuse. I was wrong about her, though. She was strong, and she had been for a long time. That’s a common misconception about abuse victims, that they are weak. They are not weak. They are loving and too strong.

Her story went on for hours. She never really stopped crying. We wrote, she cried. We started to piece together the living hell of her existence. The illness came back for me again. I get ill when I know it was just that bad. I get scared for her. Where was she going to stay tonight? Where would the children stay? As it dawned on us that she would have to return to him, we frantically called shelters. There was no room for a woman and five children. So, that was that.

She could not serve him. She would have to wait, patiently, to see if she could eventually get into a shelter. She would have to return to his bed that night. And she did. And again the next night. After two weeks, still no service. We called. Should we reissue it for the court? Yes. But not a strong yes. A yes that lacked conviction.

She went home to him that night two weeks ago. Maybe not emotionally or mentally, but she physically returned. In the following two weeks, she returned in another way. This protection order will die, along with any chance for escape, and maybe along with her. This is the tragedy. This is the failure. This is the hard underbelly of abuse so engrained that she still loves him.