Sunday, October 16, 2011


The leaves aren't quite as pretty as usual in New England this year, but they're floating down in big bunches and they're pretty enough. The breezes have become wind; the cool nights, cold. The little kids next door stay inside more and it gets dark earlier.

Fall is a bittersweet time for shelter residents or anyone living with a batterer. This is a time when the holidays of every country and culture bring families together. For most families it's a good time to catch up. To talk, plan ahead, share dishes, meet the new babies, and generally renew relationships.

This is not a good time for most victims of domestic violence. If they've escaped their abuser, every gathering can renew anxiety, dredge up resentment toward family and friends who didn't help or didn't believe them, and slap them with painful memories. Sometimes their abuser "shows up" at a party and isn't made to leave. Sometimes he follows his victim to the party, or home. Restraining orders are worth much to the really obsessed abuser.

The women I've talked to or whose experiences I've heard or read about, may take many years to stop looking over their shoulders. Sometimes, they never stop looking.

Too bad we can't figure out a really effective way to bestow these burdens on batterers. Let them look around before they leave the car or enter the house. Let them look over their shoulders.

Let them be afraid.

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