Downward Spiral

The following post involves a few close friends of mine, and revolves around Domestic Violence. Some of it may be difficult to read.

If you or someone you know is in a like situation, there is help out there. Get Help.

Break the silence, make the call.


"Where's dinner?" Brian had just walked through the door, cast aside his briefcase, kicked off his shoes and unceremoniously plopped down onto the recliner in one fluid motion. She knew he was in a bad mood instantly. After ten years of marriage you could just tell these things. Long gone were the days where he would greet her warmly, pull her into his arms and kiss her on the forehead.

Marie reached into the fridge to pull out a tray of marinating chicken breasts. She knew she should have had dinner on the table for him, he had what she was sure was a long day. All three of her phone calls to him over the course of the day had gone unanswered.

"Marie," Brian paused to calm his breathing. "Please tell me you're not just starting it now," He checked his watch for dramatic effect. "It's after five already!"

"I... I'm... I'm sorry... The kids were insane today. Morgan found vaseline and painted herself and the wall in her room with it. Aiden and that little brat next door got into another fight and he has a black eye. I spent the afternoon doing damage control."

Brian just rolled his eyes. He unfolded the newspaper and turned to the tech section while Marie finished up dinner.

"Daaaadddyyyyy!!!!!!" Three year old Morgan came bounding into the living room, her freshly washed strawberry blonde pig tails bouncing with each step. Brian set down the paper, his face lighting up at the sight of his daughter. "Hello Peanut, how are you?" He played a quick game of "Got yer nose" and reduced her to hysterical giggles.

Marie watched quietly from kitchen doorway.


"Dad, we're going to Grandma's tonight!" Aiden was picking at his dinner, too excited to eat.

"Oh really? Well that should be fun." He eyed Marie suspiciously. "When did you decide that," he asked her under his breath.

Marie chose her words carefully. "She called earlier. She wants to take them to the zoo tomorrow."

"THE ZOOOOO!!!!" Morgan squeeled, her hands flailing, knocking over her cup of milk.

"DAMMIT Morgan!!!" Brian stood up, milk dripping off of him. Morgan shuttered. Aiden stared at his plate.

"Brian it was an accident. Calm down." Marie reached for a towel and sopped up the puddles of milk. He stomped off to the bedroom to change his clothes, muttering under his breath the entire way.

Morgan sat at the table crying. Marie wrapped her arms around her. "Baby, it'll be okay. Daddy didn't mean to yell at you."

He meant to yell at me.

"Why is Dad so mad? Doesn't he like Grandma?" Aiden was her tenderhearted one. It had been easy over the last several months to pretend that he didn't see what was happening between his parents. Marie knew better.

"Aiden, Daddy had a long day. He loves you both very much. You know how you feel when things go wrong at school? Like when you and Jason fight, and then your teacher yells at you, and then you find out that the school lunch isn't something that you like? Like everything is going wrong, right?"

Aiden nodded slowly.

"You feel sad, and angry and upset, right?"

Aiden nodded again.

"Now imagine that you had the worst day EVER at school and then you came home and Mom and Dad yelled at you and grounded you for no reason."

"Ohhh, Okay." He was getting it.

"That's how Daddy feels today. When you come home tomorrow he'll feel better." She gave him a long tight hug.

"I hope so, Mom."

Me too, Sweetheart.

"I'm SORRY! I'm sorry that dinner was a little late! I'm sorry that I snapped at you in front of the kids! I'm sorry that I wrote a check and forgot to put it in the register!"

"Marie it's more than just that. You're fucking impossible, you know that? Can you do anything right? What the hell happened to you?" Brian stood in the doorway to their bedroom.

"You slept with my best friend, for one." Marie knew the impact that statement would have on Brian the second it escaped her lips. She inhaled deeply and put the shirt she was folding into the drawer of her dresser. Instant regret.

She had found out about the affair by accident three months before. Her entire world crashed down around her since. They had what appeared to be the perfect marriage. Even after almost ten years they still held hands, they still went out together and still managed to have fun. Up until three months before, that is. Now most nights consisted of the two of them yelling at eachother behind a closed bedroom door.

Brian alternated between being the most wonderful apologetic husband, bringing her roses and rubbing her feet, and being a raving psychotic lunatic, throwing things, screaming, and eventually hitting her. Marie was at her wits end. Trying to hold together ten years of marriage for her kids sake. Trying to figure out how she could have missed an affair that had lasted almost a year. Trying to figure out what she had done to push the love of her life into a relationship with her closest friend. Most days she felt like she was fighting a losing battle.

She wanted to believe she could fix things. She made sure no one knew what was going on. She hid the bruises well. The ones she couldn't hide she explained away easily. She did her best to keep him happy, believing that if Brian was happy, she would eventually be happy again.

"You're really going to go there? You're going to bring that up again? See, this is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. What the hell is wrong with you? Are you trying to pick a fight with me? Are you trying to piss me off?"

"No, I'm not trying to piss you off. I just want to go to bed." Marie was emotionally and physically exhausted. Her voice was shaking now. She was so grateful that the kids were with her Mother. The laundry was all put away. She struggled to find something to focus her attention on.

"Maybe I wouldn't have to sleep with other women if you were more of a woman yourself. You're nothing but a lazy slob. You do nothing around here to contribute. You're a shitty mother, and an even worse wife. "

A switch flipped in Marie. "Excuse me? Are you serious? Everything, Brian, EVERYTHING I have done over the last ten years I've done for us and our kids. YOU are the one who decided to lose his fucking mind and go screw that WHORE! I take care of these kids, I clean this house and make your meals for you. I take these kids everywhere they need to go. I do everything for them, and for you. I can't even believe you're saying this -- You have lost...your...mind!" She found herself screaming at him, months of rage attempting to come out. She wanted to throw something, but quickly thought better of it.

The sting hit her before she even realized what happened. A wave of warmth ran through her face. Her nose was bleeding. He had hit her. Again.

Marie was pissed. She shoved him as hard as she could, but his 6'5" frame didn't budge. The two of them struggled for a brief few seconds before Brian pinned her down to the bed. "IF I've lost my mind, it's because you've forced me to it. If I've fucked that WHORE as you call her, it's because I needed to be with a REAL woman." Brian's face was inches away from hers, screaming. Spit flew from his lips as Marie struggled to free herself. She managed to knee him between the legs, he let out a yell and rolled off of her, onto his back on the bed. Seeing her opportunity she lept to her feet and bolted for the door.

"You... BITCH!" He cried out. Adrenaline coursing through his veins he got up and chased after her.

Marie could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she fumbled with the front door.

Why didn't I switch out that old lock like my Dad said I should? Dammit... Open up... open up...

She struggled with the lock with shaking hands until it turned. Brian reached over her head slamming the door closed. He dragged her back to the bedroom by her hair and shirt. "You're...going... to pay for that..." He panted. Marie grabbed on to anything she could.

Oh my God. He's going to kill me.


"Hey Joe, How's Lisa doing?" I pull on my purple gloves and jump out of the squad.

We had just rolled up on the scene, our red and white lights bouncing off the houses that are stacked so close together that they almost touch. Neighbors peer out of their windows trying in vain to figure out what's going on.

Joe is one of Toledo's Finest. He's also a good friend of mine from high school. We had remained in contact off an on throughout the years. "Uhm, hey Epi. I was kinda hoping this wouldn't be you responding."

I stop short of retrieving the stretcher from the back of the truck. "What the hell, Joe?"

OCD Partner laughs out loud. "Obviously your reputation precedes you, Epi!"

I look at OCD Partner with a look of disgust that startles her.

NOT Funny.

"Joe? What's going on?" I'm getting frustrated. Joe, for his part, is white as a sheet. "Dude, you're scaring me."

"It's Marie, Epi." Joe is nervously twisting his wedding ring around his left ring finger. "She's not going to want to see you... She kicked me out of the house already."

"Marie?!? Marie Jackson? What happened, is she okay?" Marie was a mutual friend of ours. Her son went to school with Future Cardiologist.

"Brian beat the shit out of her." Joe wiped the sweat from his brow. "She's refusing to press charges."

"Where is Brian now?" OCD partner and I pulled the stretcher out and made our way to the sidewalk, Joe walked beside us. From what I remember about Brian, he was a big guy.

"He's in there. She's saying she fell down the stairs. That's her story and she's sticking to it. Of course he's all sweetness and fricking light now." Joe led us into the house. "Epi, go talk to her, I'll get him out of the house for a little talk of our own."

Marie's house was just as I had remembered it. It was the house she had grown up in. It was the house that we had countless sleepovers in. It was in Marie's back yard that I learned my flag corp routine for the tryouts. It was in Marie's basement that I was first kissed by a boy.

"Marie? Baby where are you?" I heard a commotion coming from the back bedroom, the room that had been Marie's parents.

"Back here..." A female firefighter waved me and OCD partner back.

OCD looked completely lost. "Epi, what the fuck is going on?"

"I know her," was all I could get out. We rounded the corner into Marie and Brian's very crowded bedroom. Three Firefighter/Medics, a police officer and Marie and Brian.

"Marie?" I could barely recognize her. Her face was bloodied and starting to swell, her beautiful strawberry blonde hair matted with blood and sweat. Brian was holding her, rocking her, and running his hands up and down her arms. Marie cringed at his touch.

"Epi? Epi? How are you girl?"

"Uhm... I'm okay... " What the hell... Nothing here is making sense.


The conclusion later on tonight.


Chris said...

Shit, Epi, hope you're OK. That's bound to have got to you.

Poor woman. You say she did a good job of covering it up. I don't know whether you had or not, but if you hadn't realised, don't beat yourself up - people hide things like this very well, and it can often be harder to notice if you know them.

Carol said...

Epi - your friend is a victim - a victim of a failed society, a shithead for a husband, and years of trying to be all things to all people.

I hope she will trust you enough to let you help her. Her abuse is no longer a secret.

I will keep hoping that she finds the strength to have that violent SOB locked up. But to do so she has to understand that his actions are not her fault. And after so many years of being convinced that all of this IS her fault ... well, she's going to need you.