Marriage without hope

She was checking me in to the doctor’s office and asked if I felt safe at home? Has your partner or ex-partner threatened you with physical harm? Have you been hit by your partner or ex-partner?

She had several more similar questions and as I repeatedly said “no”, I thought of yesterday’s blog post. Because in it I was upbeat about the mutuality and possibility in marriages.

As I often do, I reread as if I were one of my readers out there. I had left something out. Some marriages have no hope. Sound too resigned or negative? Not if you have seen the terrible repeating pattern of domestic abuse time and again. In real life, not just on TV. Some marriages are just torturous prisons.

Please read these questions without judgment or fear. They were created to help people talk, in a protected place, about their personal experience. So here they are for information but also for self examination. Please remember, they are only for you not so you can “diagnose” someone else.

• Are you afraid of your partner? Do you feel you are in danger?
• You mentioned your partner’s problem with temper/stress/drinking. When that happens, has he ever threatened or hurt you?
• Every couple fights at times – what are your fights like at home? Do the fights ever become physical?
• Have you been hit or scared since the last time I saw you?
• Has anyone at home hit you or tried to injure you in any way?
• What kinds of experiences with violence have you had in your life?
• Do you feel controlled or isolated by your partner?
• Does your partner ever try to control you by threatening to hurt you or your family?
• Has anyone close to you ever threatened or hurt you?
• Does your partner ever hit, kick, hurt or threaten you?
• Have you ever been slapped, pushed or shoved by your partner?
• Have you ever been touched in a way that made you feel uncomfortable?
• Has anyone ever made you to do something sexual when you did not want to?
• Has your partner ever refused to practice safe sex?

Someday little girls will grow up

The other day after all the students were off my school bus I found a photo of a little girl. I pinned it on the dashboard and the next day a third grader said  “Hey, that’s me when I was two years old.” She is one of my favorites, which probably started Halloween before last when another kid,  referring to my costume, said of her “She is afraid of clowns”. That afternoon,  having taken off my rainbow wig to look a little less threatening, I chatted with her about it. Her conclusion: “I don’t think school bus drivers should be clowns.” So there, ‘…out of the mouths of…’

As cute and sweet as she is, she is not the only lovable child on my bus route but her photo from over five years ago was made achingly poignant by a fresh not-guilty verdict in a rape trial involving Dartmouth students. My little friend should grow up to be a young woman full of life and love and she should have all the protection we can give her so that she can thrive with strength. Agreed? Then how is it that in 2014 America on an Ivy League campus, a young woman,  asleep in her own dorm room be awaked to an unwelcome invader having sex with her and then find her accusations ignored by a jury?

I am sure some of you will try to justify the man being acquitted. You will talk about legal issues or substance abuse or maybe even use archaic male-superior arguments but imagine the female student is my beautiful third grader a few years in the future or is your daughter or niece or granddaughter. Then, if you can see through your tears of anger and sadness, try to come up with something, anything, rational about such a conclusion to this trial. I defy you.