Posts Tagged ‘abusive relationships’

She had it coming for a very long time. And no, I feel no remorse about it. In fact, every time I think about it, I smile.

Her name was…Janet. Yeah, we’ll use that name. It’s a good name and nondescript.

I’ve learned that by the time something results in violence, there is a whole, long history there.  I mean, most things that turn out like this didn’t happen suddenly. It started long before the actual incident and there is all sides to the story. This is especially true for people like myself who are not violent and don’t deal with things in that nature.

That night had been the culmination of close to 10 years of her verbal and mental abuse. It’s interesting how people talk about abusive relationships between romantic couples, but not so much about the kind that can occur between friends. Women friends, to be specific. It happened to me and I didn’t even know it was going on.

I was in my mid-20’s when I first met Janet, via my good friend Pam. I remember when I first met Janet, I wasn’t sure at first that she was a woman until I heard her name. She was taller than me, older by about 10 years, and had this very direct manner about her. I liked her because she was a friend of a good friend.

We began hanging out together over the next few years and formed a close friendship. One of my first clues that something wasn’t right about her was my husband could not stand her and would have nothing to do with her. He was always cordial towards her, but always had to be some place else when she was around. He loved my friend Pam and they got along great, but when Janet was around, he would leave.

It was becoming obvious over time and I finally asked him about it. He had never said anything to me and just left us alone.

“I don’t trust her and she’s nothing more than a blow hard. I’m sorry, I know she’s your friend, but I just don’t want to be around her and I don’t want her coming over.”

I tried to convince him that she was fine and that was my second clue. Why was I trying to “sell” him on her? He was a likable person when he felt like it, but not everyone liked him. (That’s another clue – if you’re dating someone and your friends don’t like him, run away quickly. Remind me to blog about that sometime.)

My husband was the most amazing  judge of character of anyone I had ever seen. He was NEVER wrong. It was a gift and I should have paid attention to what he was saying, but I didn’t. I learned to never to do that again. It wasn’t they way she acted that he hated. It was HER. The person that he couldn’t stand.

Anyway, I made sure that the two of them didn’t interact and that seemed to keep everyone happy.

Over the years, Janet began to drink heavily. This was gradual and was unnoticed by me. I did not see her that often as she lived out-of-town with Pam. They were roommates since both were divorced and raising their children together. I would go up for a weekend every few months and spend time with them. That’s when I started to see how badly Janet had deteriorated.

I had some training to do one Saturday way up North, which was close to their house. The next day was Easter and the plan was for me to stay over Saturday night, spend Easter with them and the kids, and then drive back home Sunday night. It was a great plan.

I had not seen the two of them in over a year between work and family schedules and I only talked to Pam which was fine with me. Janet was someone I would never have been with friends with on my own. She was too abrupt, rude and crass for my taste. But because of my friendship with Pam and her friendship with Janet, I accepted her as a friend.

When I arrived at their house that night, I was shocked at what I saw. The house was a disaster, the 3 kids were running around and they had a look of scared animals about them. I didn’t know what I was seeing, but I didn’t like it. Pam looked horrible, as if she hadn’t slept in a week and sitting in her recliner (or throne, if you knew Janet) was the Queen Bee herself – Janet.

She glared at me when I came in and actually snarled. I nodded my head in her direction and she looked away. I didn’t know why she was being so rude, but I didn’t care. I was worried about Pam.

I said hello to the kids and hugged them. All three try to sit on my lap, so I opted for the floor and talked with each of them. They were happy to see me and I started to calm down when I saw their smiles.

Janet refused to talk to me, so I played with the kids for a bit while Pam was in the kitchen. She was fixing me a late dinner. I got away from the children and went into the kitchen. Pam was at the sink. I walked up behind her, placed my hands on her shoulder and turned her around to look at me.

“OK, you want to tell me what the hell is going on? In all the years I have known you, I’ve never seen your house look like this, I’ve never seen you this tired and I don’t even want to know what’s up with Janet. Talk to me, please.”

Pam’s eyes teared up and she looked down at the floor. “I don’t know what to do anymore. Janet is drunk all the time, I don’t have the money to move because she has refused to work and I’m worried about the kids. I can’t leave here without them and I can’t stay. I just don’t know what to do.”

Pam had one child and Janet had two. Pam had been raising them for years, so the idea of just walking away from the was not an option. This I understood because I would not have done that either.

I hugged her and told her it would be OK, that we would figure something out and she calmed down.

I grabbed some food from the frig and made her sit down and stop waiting on me. The kids came running into the kitchen and it became obvious everyone was avoiding Janet.

I walked back into the living room and she snarled at me again. I sat down and looked at her. She was drunk and she was not a nice drunk. She was one of the nastiest drunks I had ever seen and I now understood what a horrible position everyone in the household was in. I was angry but I stayed calm. I took the drink out of her hand and put it on the table. It was time to get her sober and try to give the kids a decent Easter.

She looked at me and said nothing. I was tired of her abuse of my friend and the children. It was one thing to put up with her barbs and snide remarks to me over the years but it was a whole other thing to pick on my friend and upset children.

She didn’t drink the rest of the night and was quiet. Anytime she would start to say something, I would look at her and she would shut-up. We spent the evening playing with the kids and when it was time to put them to bed, they were cheerful and excited about the Easter Bunny coming that night.

Once they were asleep, I began to help Pam with the Easter baskets and the hiding of the eggs. Janet remained on her throne and out of my way. There was an unspoken understanding between her and I that I would not tolerate any of her bad behavior or drinking.

It was late before I made it to bed in the guest room. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard a large bang outside my bedroom door and I heard Pam scream. Before I even knew what I was doing, I was out of bed and flung open the door.

Janet had thrown Pam against the wall and was yelling at her to give her the keys to the car. I found out later that right after I had gone to bed, Janet started drinking heavily and wanted to go for a drive. Pam had grabbed the keys away from her and that’s when Janet went after her.

It didn’t take me even a second to yell at Janet and tell her to leave Pam alone. This really pissed her off and before I knew it, she turned around and came after me. She picked me up and slammed me against the wall. My head and back hit the wall hard and I slid down. She turned around and went after Pam again. I shook my head (you actually do that, just like in the movies) and I pulled myself up and yelled at her again.

I have never in my life been in a fight. Not even with my brothers. I have never been struck, hit or slapped and I have never hit another person. I have never had the desire to physically hurt someone. I have a peaceful nature, but that all left me when I saw my friend being hurt. All I knew was that it was not going to continue, no matter what I had to do. I would never stand by while a bully is at work.

She turned around again and lunged towards me. I reacted by putting my hands up and then suddenly all the boxing lessons my brother had given me came into play. I made a fist and extended my arm and made contact with her nose. I wasn’t aiming at all. I just happen to have the right angle with her height and she ran into my fist as much as I hit her with it.

It’s hard to describe the noise it made and even more difficult to explain the immense pain that was in my hand and shot up my arm to my neck. Janet screamed, put her hands up to her nose and I watched as the blood came pouring out.

It was surreal. Pam was standing in the background, stunned. Everything had happened so fast, within seconds and now time stood still.

I felt great. I felt wonderful and I didn’t care if I broke her nose or not. For one moment, it was quiet.

Janet screamed and ran out of the house. I grabbed Pam. She was fine but in shock.

All I could think about were the children. That was my only thought. I didn’t care about the stupid adults anymore. I wanted the kids to be OK and prayed they hadn’t heard anything.

I sat Pam down and ran upstairs to check on them. They were all sleeping. I felt such relief. I ran back down the stairs and told Pam we were all leaving.

She didn’t understand. I told her again we were all leaving and going to my house for the night. I told her to start packing a few things, grab the Easter baskets and when my car was packed, put the kids in my car.

Pam nodded. She was in shock, so I tried to be as patient at I could, but I knew more trouble was brewing. Janet had run outside, tripped on a garden gnome and was lying in the driveway. She was crying and threatening to call the cops on me. I wanted out of there as fast as I could but I couldn’t leave the children or my friend.

Janet got up and walked up towards the front door. It was partially glass and I saw her nose was still bleeding a little bit, but she wasn’t dead. She put her hand on the knob, looked up and saw me. I stared at her, shook my head and raised my fist to indicate I would hit her again. I wasn’t kidding.

She screamed and ran off into the garden, still threatening to call the cops. Well, she would have to get into the house to do that, and I figured we would be long gone before she was sober enough. Plus she didn’t know what kind of car I had and if she did call, it would be obvious she was drunk.

We finally got the car packed. We had three kids to squeeze into it. Somehow we were able to move them without waking them. I grabbed my things and put Pam in the passenger seat. Janet stayed away and I could hear her in the background, talking to herself, randomly screaming but too afraid to come near the house.

As we drove off, I told her we were leaving and she could go back into the house. I peeled out of there as fast as I could.

I drove for 3 hours and held Pam’s hand. I told her to sleep and not to worry. We got to my house at 3:00 in the morning. I went inside and fixed up my bed for the kids. Pam and I carried them in and tucked them into my bed. Pam slept in the spare room and I slept on the couch. My hand was killing me but it wasn’t swollen. I put ice on it, took some aspirin and dozed for a bit.

The next morning, I got up early and went to the store. I got toothpaste and toothbrushes and a bunch of food for everyone. I came back and hid Easter eggs and baskets and made a pot of coffee. I waited for everyone to wake-up.

We ended up having a great Easter. I unplugged the phone because I didn’t want Janet to call, even though I knew she wouldn’t. They stayed with me for a few days and soon everyone was looking like themselves again.

I spent a lot of time listening to Pam about what had been going on for so long that I didn’t know anything about. It was a bad situation that occurred over a long period of time. It was gradual and insidious and had come to a head that weekend.

Pam eventually moved out and cut Janet out of her life. She and I kept in contact with Janet’s two kids as much as we could. Their father was not around – don’t get me started on him – so we did what we could.

Everything turned out just fine. I saw the two kids last summer. They are grown with families of their own. That evening was never mentioned and as far as I knew, they knew nothing about it.

I was wrong.

When I saw them last July, I hugged them. Both of them said they would always love me for what I had done.

I actually didn’t know what they were talking about. It was long forgotten for me.

“We remember the night you took us out of there. We remember the Easter you gave us and we remember you always being there for us, even if it was in the background. We’ve always known you were there for us.”

To say I cried is an understatement. Those words have never left me and they never will

Never think that children don’t know or don’t understand. They do. They always do.