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Beating Hearts: Stories of Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Jewish Women International is posting daily stories of domestic abuse on their blog.  These stories are shocking, crushing, and sad.  They are also inspiring and thoughtful, with lessons about courage and love. 

The following post is cross-posted from the JWI blog.  It is taken from "Beating Hearts: Stories of Domestic Violence" an exhibit of photographic constructions with accompanying text by Kate Sartor Hilburn and Terrie Queen Autrey.  This particular story is important because it reminds us that domestic abuse reaches far beyond violence.  Abuse is about control, and often involves restriction, isolation, or even imprisonment.

The Window

Photo Construction 40First, he just wanted me to stop working. He was making plenty of money, and if I wasn’t working, we could travel. This way, we wouldn’t have to pay for two separate bank accounts either. He’d just give me any money I needed.

Then, he just wished I’d stop inviting my mother over. She always ended up criticizing me and getting me upset. Besides, she never really liked him, and he knew it.

Then, he didn’t really approve of my best friend. After all, she’s divorced and kind of wild. Every time she visits, he says I have a bad attitude for a few days.

Then, he decided we should sell my car. After all, I wasn’t working or anything, so where would I be going that he couldn’t go with me?

Then he began to unplug the phone and take it with him every day. I don’t know why he didn’t trust me enough to leave me with a phone. What if something happened to me? But he said I was just being paranoid.

Finally it got to where I never saw or spoke to anyone anymore. But I could look out the window and see the house across the pasture. The kids there wave at me sometimes. But today he took a hammer and nails and boarded up the window. He said I was spending all my time just looking out that window.

 

For more stories and ways to get involved this month, visit the Jewish Women International blog.

Photo Construction 40"w x 36"h x 2"d ©2004 Kate Sartor Hilburn

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3 Comments

ZoeD: I do agree that this story is an extreme case, and does not represent the "average" domestic violence story in America. However, that does not mean it is fiction. Extreme cases do happen, and attempting to judge whose story is true or untrue based on how likely the story is, well, that reasoning seems misplaced.

First of all, why do we need to know if the story is true if it still represents and gives voice to a truth? (When asked whether his stories are true, David Sedaris says, "They're true enough.") Control is a serious, and incredibly common, element of domestic abuse. It may not usually reach the point of total imprisonment, but separating one from their social networks is one of the first and foremost things an abuser will do.

Judging the stories of survivors of domestic abuse is harmful to the cause of spreading awareness. If this story could happen (it could), and there is no legal/judicial reason to prove or disprove the facts of the case, no good will come from questioning it's veracity.

I'm sorry - but I cannot believe that vignette is true. Anyone with any depth or perception can follow the step by step progression of control so simply displayed here.

I fell it belittles the more usual form of domestic violence - driven by ignorance, trapped by poverty, hidden by fear, betrayed by friends and family.

A women trapped behind a window, viewing the world distant that is soon boarded up, is very poetic. And, an interesting construct. Just remember that domestic violence is ugly, unpoetic, painful, and destroys life.

When I read stories like this it makes me angry that other men can do these things to anyone... especially their wives. My wife is my best friend. We do many things together and other things where we follow our own individual interests. I know she loves me and I know she enjoys doing things with her circle of female friends. I cannot fathom depriving her of that enjoyment. Really, if it makes her happy then it makes me happy for her. Control freaks are an embarrassment to the male population. I will pray for you ladies... don't give up hope. casino online

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How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Beating Hearts: Stories of Domestic Violence." 7 October 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 21, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/domestic-violence-awareness-month>.

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