Domestic Violence is the hidden shame behind doors. Domestic violence does not have a dress code that matches what an abuser looks like. They can be police officers, fire fighters, preachers, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, not just the drinking pot belly slob that is shown in TV.
I was called to the admission office to interview a new patient. In the brief shift report I was given, the patient sitting in the waiting area did not match what I was expecting to see. There was a well dressed middle age women sitting quietly in the big armed chair softly crying. She had a Kleenex in her hand and was fiddling with it until it fell apart.
As I walked in the door I reached over and snatched two fresh Kleenex out of the box and walked over to her. I stopped, she looked up and smiled. I extended the Kleenex and said "Hello my name is Angela and I would like to talk to you for a few minutes if that is ok with you." She nodded her head up and down "ok" as she reached for the fresh Kleenex.
With a hand motion I lead her to the office to ask the million and one questions that go along with being a new admission in order for the hospital to serve the individuals needs.
For the sake of confidentiality we will call her Sue, even thought that is not her real name. Sue was a well dressed lady that held herself in a very proper fashion. She was not the normal mental patient that we received in the hospital. Actually, she reminded me of June Cleaver from the show "Leave it to Beaver" that had the TV perfect mom and dad.
When she spoke the pain that I heard in her voice was deep; she had very little eye contact while she was being asked the many pages of questions. She was so embarrassed to be sitting in that chair.
I asked, "Do you work?" She slowly spoke. "No, I have never had a job. I stayed home to raise our three daughters and a son." I chuckled, and said, "You were a home engineer and that is a hard job. She looked up and we both smiled. She said, "I loved my job, raising my children and being home to raise my family. I have two grandchildren and I keep them for the girls sometimes" As she talked about her family her face lit up and the tears stopped rolling down her cheeks. Her true passion of being a home engineer and the home organizer made her back straighten as she talked with her hands as she described her grandkids. I listened. I smiled.
I said, "So what brings you here?" Her shoulders dropped and her back slumped as she told the story of how her husband of over 30 plus years came home from work and told her she was leaving ; he had a new younger woman and he wanted her out of his house. She explained how she had never had a job and he paid all the bills, bought all the things inside the house, paid for the new cars they purchased every other year. He handed her $500 and told her to leave. She looked up at me and said, "I am homeless. He told me not to contact the kids and that I could not speak to them." I smiled gently "Do your children live in your home?" She replied, "Oh no they are all married."
I pushed the phone toward her and asked if she would like to let one of them know where she was. She paused…"but he had said". The voice of mental abuse speaks even when the abuser is not in the room.
We finished the papers and moved her to the next floor with a diagnosis from the Doctor of depression. Can you imagine how she got depressed? This woman worked at home; she had a brand new car to drive every other year, a Cadillac. She prepared a home cooked meal daily for over thirty years and served her family as a home engineer. Her 30+ years of marriage were going down the drain.
The next day when I came onto the unit I once again saw her sitting at the end of the hallway alone with her hands over her face crying. I placed my hand on her shoulder and with a smile said, "Hey there stranger, how are you?" She looked up and wiped her face forcing a smile with as much as she could muster. "Hello," she said. We sat and talked a few minutes when I asked if I could alert a few of our internal connections to get her some help. She agreed that it was ok. I told her I also had a surprise I would like to share with her if she felt up to it. Sue looked at me funny, but had a sparkle in her eye waiting. I walked over to the end of the unit, unlocked a door and her oldest daughter walked in. A beautiful young women just like her mother. They embraced each other and I walked away to make a few phone calls.
|ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM! Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women
Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.
Who Are The Abusers?
If your partner repeatedly uses one or more of the following to control you;
- pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, or biting
· threatening you, your children, other family members or pets
· threatening suicide to get you to do something
· using or threatening to use a weapon against you
· keeping or taking your paycheck
· puts you down or makes you feel bad
· forcing you to have sex or to do sexual acts you do not want or like
· keeping you from seeing your friends, family or from going to work
YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED!! 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY)
Anonymous & Confidential Help 24/7
Sue had been mentally abused for so long in her marriage that she did not even notice it any more. He paid the bills so he got to be in charge. Their family was well known in the community and no one would believe that her husband was an abuser. They attended all the church functions as a family. They had the nice home, the new cars, and four kids who all went to college.
Sue’s story ended better than most. She received a lawyer that took care of her case and allowed her to maintain her life style, plus divorce. Her abuse was not with her husband’s fist, but with his words that left deep scars in her self confidence. He twisted the emotions to meet his needs and leave her speechless. Behind the smile that baked the fresh chocolate chip cookies for her children after school was a woman who had lived for years in a prison she did not even know she had entered.
Words—just simple words—cut deep like a knife and punched her in the gut like a fist; they left bruises no one could see. The face she saw in the mirror was June Cleaver performing her job as a home engineer. However, she was an abused woman hiding the silent shame.
Angela Brooks has worked in a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Kentucky for 21 years as a nurse, assisting sometimes-dangerous patients who come in shackled and cuffed. At AngelaBrook.com, she offers stories of life on the inside of a psychiatric ward, and the site, as well as her company, offers support for nurses in the mental health field and helps them bring passion into their role at work.
On her BlogTalkRadio show, Mental Happiness with Angela Brooks, she shares some of her experiences “learning to love those others have forsaken” and gives tips on how to bring peace to your own life.
* Please note: I am not here to CURE, DIAGNOSE, Treat or suggest replacements for what a doctor prescribes – I am sharing my nursing adventures with you.
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