Falling off the ladder…again



NOTE: Domestic violence trigger warning

For a moment she marvelled at her stupidity. As her partner had picked up the four socket power board on its metre of cord, her first thought was that this weapon would not be used on her by one who’d promised to cherish her.

But now she stood there, mute, more angry with herself than her frothing lover who continued to lash her left, then right, miraculously missing the lamp shade with every swing. Initially she’d bobbed and weaved, standing her ground, but soon found she had to block the blows as their accuracy increased and her assailant found a rhythm.

She blocked one with an elbow, then her side, then her head. She stood there hoping trying to make contact with the human she knew lived behind the crazy eyes. But she knew that when it got like this, there was no way through. The blows no longer hurt and were just dull thuds. Surely, soon, exhaustion must set in and the beating would stop.

It wasn’t the first and, she knew, it wouldn’t be the last. She’d suck this up, as she always did and probably always would. Well, at least until the kids were grown. Trying to do it on her own, she knew, was too hard.

Without cover for childcare, she’d found herself in trouble with her masters at work one time too many. If one of her masters decided to work late, she had to stay, apparently, and summons a genie to pick up the child from aftercare at school, lest CYFs got called.

She treated him with the same dumb insolence as she treated the person on front of her, working up a sweat with the effort of the beating. She could take the heat from the bosses and despite being defiant and on a warning, they chose not to push it.

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But she was pushing it here as she stood there. It was an impasse. Her partner wouldn’t stop until she backed down and she wouldn’t back down until it stopped. This, she thought, was nothing compared with falling off motorbikes the way she’d done many times in the past. These injuries were nothing. No bone would be broken by this powerboard whose fragile internals could already be heard rattling inside.

She would never tell anyone how this happened. Perhaps they were used to her lies and never inquired further. She would be seen as so weak if she cried to her friends. She should leave, they would say, but building this family was the work of a lifetime and1 she’d tolerated worse than a few cuts and bruises getting here. She wasn’t going to give it up now. Yup, falling off the ladder again, it would have to be.

The very thought of being named a victim was enough to dissuade her. She’d seen it before – the loss of control experienced by those who raise a hand for help. Courts, cops and lawyers could not fix this situation. They were merely the clean-up crew rather than the creators of the dynamic.

To ensure her career prospects in a world which didn’t support single parents, she was beholden to this person. And this was the price foisted on her in a game where she had no choice but to pony-up or face poverty.

The trickle of blood from an unfelt wound flowed into her eye, breaking the spell. She realised the futility of absorbing more, turned and bolted for the door, the ever present faces in the mottled linoleum kitchen floor screaming as she fled. In the carport her child had been sitting on his tricycle within earshot. He saw the blood and his face filled with fear and concern.

She sat in the garage, an old rag clutched her bleeding head, assuring her son that it wasn’t much and that everything was ok. The furrow in his little brow showed he wasn’t convinced. His friend came down the drive. She took some change from her car and sent them to buy icecream.

The house was silent and the door to the bedroom was shut. She went inside and gently pulled the rag away from her head. It adhered, but the bleeding had all but stopped. She looked at herself in the mirror. Ever the optimist, she realised she was looking in the hope that it wouldn’t be so bad. Perhaps nothing a bit of foundation wouldn’t hide.

But before the image registered, she already knew the hope was forlorn. Her battered hands alone said too much. She went into the kitchen, poured herself a drink and read the newspaper, still there from the morning. A musician was planning to come to the country, but would be unlikely to get a visa because of his history of violence against his partner.

A primary plank of his plea was that his partner had forgiven him. She laughed and her face hurt. The whisky stung the cuts inside her mouth. Yup, she thought, we forgive them. And that’s how they get to keep at it.

With that forgiveness, she knew, came an implicit recognition of her worth. Her blood could be paid for with a sorry. The inequality of this trade said it all. She picked up the phone and rang her ex, explaining that she had to go out of town for a few days and asking if the boy could be picked up and accommodated.  She said she’d make it up to the ex and she would, like the last time she fell off a ladder.

She cleaned the blood off the wall before it dried completely, hurting her face again as she laughed, wondering how she managed to get “doormat” stamped on her forehead. For that was what the wounds said to her. But, she thought, this doesn’t last forever. When the kid’s old enough we can both cut a gap. But until then, she knew she was there for the duration.

She knew she could not speak up for herself and smiled about the newspaper as she folded it and put it in the recycling. We need powerful messages out there like this. We need to deter these people who visit violence on us at home. And while our voices might often be silenced by economic constraints, this at least was a message of hope for her.


      • It’s seems one where words about
        tears gratitude and affirmation clearly rattles empty cages.

        As a survivor of child and domestic abuse I have been subjected to worse and more humiliating things than down votes from cowards who hide behind anonymity and I pride myself in growing stronger from it all.

        The words Kelly wrote resonated through me and brought me to a place of tearful remembrance, then thankfulness that all that shit is way behind me

        No one can ever hurt me again either with words or physically,
        Never ever again
        Having had martial arts training a number of years ago and counselled women who have much more horrifying stories to tell than mine,
        I have become the protector of my mind and body.

        The sun is shining and all is well in my world today.

      • Down voting can be a method of anonymous trolling.

        When questions get down voted, that’s particularly amusing.

        I can get a bit disappointed when my comments don’t get down voted.

        And – once again, Kelly underscores her value as a contributor to this site. Thank you.

  1. This govt. spews lies about their funding and what they prioritize. Clearly they prioritize trade; economics; TPPA ; Big Oil and Big Pharma etc. and allowing lobbyists to influence all over the show.

    But when it comes to properly funding the social service programs and properly funding vets and disabled etc. and those in need, clearly they have failed and continue their fuzzy logic defenses. Look at how the suicide rates have exploded and violence has not declined much with these “out of touch” elitist at the helm. ALL ABOUT PRIORITIES.

    Ask any Natz politician and they will agree that they are doing a fine job and things are so much better now. Yeh ! what a crock of enriched super dung.

  2. There but for the grace of God go I.

    And still, I lost my child for seven years due to finances. Because I had no job, suffered from PTSD, had no income.

    What kind of society are we that blames women for being beaten? That separates mothers and babies? That does not support mothers and babies?

    Damn sick. That’s what we are.

    • The down votes on comments here outlining people’s pain…..

      To those people voting such comments down, I just don’t know what to say.

      I despair for this country. We seem to be turning into a bunch of “me me me” individualistic self centred nasty mean judgemental people.

      It’s enough to make one buy a small bush block and retreat from “civilisation”.

      Because it’s not very civil, is it.

      • @ Lara: “To those people voting such comments down, I just don’t know what to say.”

        Lara, I suspect that it’s one or more adolescent males doing this. They haven’t yet got their empathy genes switched on, so they don’t really get this stuff.

        They better be careful their mothers don’t find out they’re doing this instead of their maths, like they said they were…

        • I would like to believe that it’s just teenagers who are too inexperienced in the world to know better…

          But my experience tells me it’s reasonably as likely to be adults. Most of them men, but some women.

          We like to state that in NZ we do not condone beating, killing and raping women. But the fact is it happens on a daily basis.

          The conversation must always revolve around diversion from the facts, it must always be about how women are violent too and men get raped too, lest we be accused if misandry or being sexist.

          But the facts are women in NZ are dying each year at the hands of violent men, and the vast majority of violence in NZ is perpetuated by men.

          Up to July this year I counted 6 dead women in NZ, violent deaths, all at the hands of men. In that time I counted 12 dead men who died violent deaths, all bar three at the hands of other men.

          That’s 18 violent deaths, 15 killed by men and 3 by women. So no, women are NOT as violent as men. The dead bodies don’t lie.

          I stopped counting in July, it is just too depressing.

          Male violence is a real problem in NZ. But to point out that fact using dead bodies is apparently being sexist, and so we never are able to get the conversation into finding out why we have such a problem with male violence and how we can change it.

          And I’m so fucking over it. I’m withdrawing more and more from this society. I hate it.

          • @ Lara: “But my experience tells me it’s reasonably as likely to be adults. Most of them men, but some women.”

            I completely agree that misogynist attitudes are widely-held in our community. We wouldn’t have the levels of violence against women that we have, were that not the case.

            However, there have been some instances overseas of adolescent males being responsible for egregious abuse of women online. I’d be surprised if it isn’t happening here as well. Not only are their empathy genes not yet switched on, they’re in full rebellion mode: against everybody and everything. Especially women… I remember it only too well! Those of my acquaintance grew out of it eventually, though clearly many don’t, given the problems we have here in NZ.

            And here’s the thing: if it is adults doing it, telling them that they’re adolescent males is bound to annoy them!

    • I also do not understand how when you ask a couple of valid questions you get down voted. I think I understand how hard it is to break the cycle. It is easy to look on and say why don’t they leave. Norm Kirk introduced the DPB so that women could leave violent relationships but it is still not easy to leave.
      We blame the women because if we didn’t we would need to stand up to men with violence issues and NZers are notorious for not standing up for our women or our children!

      • Instead of asking “why doesn’t she/ he just leave?”

        We need to ask “what’s stopping them from leaving?”

        But that’s not how the conversation goes in NZ. Blame is always heaped on the victims, because apparently they’re responsible for crimes committed against them.

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