Women's Issues/Abuse

6 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

This is the true story of a woman who has navigated her way through hell. She felt that the story was too shameful to tell any one. Ever! She didn’t tell her family, she didn’t tell her best friend of thirty-five years, no one. And yet she has spent her entire life helping and defending young girls and grown women from abusive men and that’s just the beginning. 

The best place to start is at the age of eighteen. That was back when 18 meant you were legal for everything. You could drink, smoke, vote, join the military, get married, and get a loan.

 This story is about Catherine who was a true goody-goody girl following all of the rules. She has a large Irish Catholic family. Her friends called her Saint Catherine because she was so pure and wholesome and a bit naïve. As it turns out she really was a St. Catherine who was a martyr. A martyr is a person who endures great suffering over a principal or a belief (for those who may not know).

St. Catherine dated a guy that was tall, thin and handsome. He was three years her senior. He was very likable and at ease around people he didn’t know. St. Catherine’s

friends were so impressed and told her how lucky she was all of the time. St.Catherine had one friend  who was very jealous because she had a big crush on St.Catherine’s boyfriend and felt that she would be the one to date him and marry him. She tried to pretend it didn’t bother her that St. Catherine was dating him but it was fairly obvious to every one around them.

    It was most noticeable when St. Catherine’s boyfriend would surprise her with roses or jewelry for no particular reason. St. Catherine’s boyfriend was kind, polite and respectful to St. Catherines siblings and parents. St. Catherines father really liked him and got along with him very well. As time went on and they dated for a year he became a regular at St. Catherines dinner table. Her boyfriend often spoke about their future, their home and the children they would one day have. It made her nervous and uncomfortable for him to assume he was ‘the one.’ St. Catherine had plans for college and travel. Her ideas about marriage were somewhere far into her future.

 On holidays and special occasions  it was St. Catherine’s  sister who helped chose the  gifts that would make St. Catherine happy. Especially the day she helped pick out St. Catherine’s engagement ring.

            St. Catherine was proposed to in the spring. She was so happy she could only think of that moment. She wasn’t thinking about college or her future right then, just her engagement. After all, engagement was just the promise of marriage one day, not right away. 

Just one month later, seemingly out of nowhere St. Catherine’s father told her that the family would be moving to the West Coast. St. Catherine could not believe that her parents would up and move and leave her behind like that. St. Catherine’s father told her she could move her wedding up so the whole family could be a part of it but then they have to leave for his new job opportunity. St. Catherine was nearly finished with high school any way. They wouldn’t be able to comeback so quickly for her graduation either.

St. Catherine went from being the happiest young woman to the saddest young woman in a flash. She had plans for her life. She wasn’t ready to live with a man, not even if she were married to him. She needed her mother around. How could this happen? St. Catherine loved her siblings very much and didn’t want to be shoved out into the world. Though she wouldn’t be technically be alone she felt very alone and the world somehow seemed much larger.

On the day of her wedding, St. Catherine’s mother was buttoning up the small white buttons on the back of St. Catherine’s wedding dress. St.Catherine said she didn’t want to get married because it was too big of a commitment and it was forever, until death. Her mother told her all brides get nervous and that it was normal to feel that way. After some protesting St.Catherine decided it was too late to back out so she married the tall, thin and handsome young man. It would be so lovely to say they lived happily ever after but that would be the biggest lie ever told.

After the wedding St.Catherine’s heart began to break because she had to say goodbye to her family. They were leaving for the west coast while she was on her honeymoon and her friends were on spring break. When she returned as a married woman her family would be gone.

St.Catherine’s mother assured her that they would talk often and there were great new adventures for her in her new life as a married woman. St. Catherine didn’t want to be a married woman. She wanted to be a care-free girl.

After all of the good-byes St. Catherine was off to her honeymoon with her new husband. She decided it would fine because she did marry the man she loved and her family had given him the stamp of approval. She was really looking forward to her honeymoon. 

When they got off the airplane they rented a car. ST. Catherine felt free and very alive. She was happy and her new husband was happy too. When they were loading their luggage in the trunk of the car St. Catherine decided that all was right with the world and she felt as though she was embarking on a new adventure. When she got in the car and rolled down the windows. She wanted to feel her long curly hair blowing in the breeze and soak up the beautiful scenery along the coast. She turned to look at her new husband and tell him she loved him. She barely got the words out of her mouth when she was struck with a blow that made her head spin and her mouth bleed. It all happened so fast she literally didn’t know what hit her. The car swerved and she wasn’t able to focus right away. Several seconds later she looked at the drivers seat and her husband wasn’t there. Sitting behind the steering wheel was a complete stranger. Catherine starred at this man in disbelief and wondered where he came from. When Catherine asked him why he would strike her like that his reply was, “Shut the fuck up!” 

Catherine was terrified. How? Who? What has happened she wondered? One minute things were glorious and the very next she was petrified that she was alone with a monster. She was so scared she didn’t dare speak. Her mind was racing. How and why were the only two words she could think of. She couldn’t put a thought together. She was no longer aware of her surroundings. She felt as if she was in a soundproof tube and no one could hear her.

Her next thought was that she had dozed off and this was a nightmare. She touched her mouth with her trembling hand and then pulled it away to examine it. Her hand was filled with blood. She tried to scream but she could not produce a single sound. She sat there with her hand full of blood and looked over at the monster that was her new husband. Tears were streaming down her face.

            When he saw all of the blood in her hand and on her face he looked shocked as if some one else had done this to his new wife. He quickly pulled the car over and said, “Oh my God, oh my God. I am so sorry.”

He held her very tightly and rocked her while she cried quietly like a little girl. He stroked her hair and whispered his constant apology to her. She felt numb. She wanted her mommy and daddy. She no longer wanted to be married.

When they stopped to get gas she said she needed to get cleaned up. He ran around the car to open her car door like he always had. He held the door open for her. She looked up at him with dried blood on her face and said, “I want a divorce right now! I can get this marriage annulled.”

He closed the car door enough to pin her leg as she was getting out. He told her that getting a divorce was not an option and then he helped her out.

Catherine headed inside the gas station to find a restroom to clean the blood on her face and got some ice for her swollen and bruised lip. The owner of the gas station saw her and stopped instantly. 

            “What happened to you pretty lady?” he asked.

As Catherine opened her mouth to answer the man she felt her husband reach for  her hand and grasp it tightly.

            “She wasn’t wearing her seat belt and I had to slam on the brakes. Her head went forward and hit the dashboard.”

Catherine couldn’t believe what she heard her husband say. How could he come up with that lie so fast? Did the gas station owner believe him?

The gas station owner called his wife over to assist Catherine.

Catherine’s husband protested. He said she would be fine and there was no point in making such a big fuss over her.

The gas station owner’s wife disagreed and looked at Catherine’s husband with disdain and suspicion.

 Catherine’s husband followed them to the ladies room.

“I can handle it from here sir.” She said to Catherine’s husband.  All we need is the first aid kit and an ice pack.”

Catherine’s husband said he would wait outside the door. The woman gave Catherine’s husband a quizzical look and she clearly was uneasy.

 He explained to the woman that he couldn’t possibly leave because he was so worried about her and loved her so much and after all they were on their honeymoon.

“Oh, that makes perfect sense doesn’t it? For a moment there I thought maybe you did this to her. The way you are hovering around her. Now I realize, you are just a man in love.”

Catherine felt as if she was having an out of body experience. The woman helped Catherine and cleaned her up just the way her mother would have done if she had been there. Tears began to stream down Catherine’s face.

“What’s the matter dear? Why are you crying?” the woman asked.

Before Catherine could answer her husband coughed loudly and said, “Is everything alright in there?”

Catherine realized that she had better not tell the truth. Somehow she could feel her new husbands anger through the door and it made her feel sick.

“Oh, I just miss my mother,” Catherine lied. Although she did miss her mother she wanted to scream that the man on the other side of the door was a horrible monster.

Catherine hugged the woman tightly and thanked her for helping.

As Catherine and her husband were driving Catherine was thinking about how she could get out of her marriage.  She no longer wanted to be on a honeymoon. She felt cold and empty. 

The first night of their honeymoon was quiet and awkward. Every time her husband got close to her, Catherine would look at her face in the mirror and then look at her husband with disgust. Later in the evening her husband took her hand and pulled her onto the bed. He told her he didn’t know what came over him. He had no idea why he behaved so badly.  He professed his undying love to her. She sat still as a statue and glared at him. He tried to get her to speak to him. Finally she stood up and said, “I have no idea who you are. Have you been pretending to be a great guy but you are really a monster? Why in heavens name would you do this to me?” she asked pointing to her face.

He began to sob uncontrollably as he begged her for forgiveness. After an hour of pleading Catherine felt sorry for him and forgave him. He made love to her. He was kind and gentle and whispered over, and over how much he loved her. He told her she was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He told her that she was beautiful and that he didn’t deserve her. He told her that she could never leave him because he couldn’t live with out her.                                                                                                          

Catherine and her husband both had good jobs and worked hard. Catherine still wanted to go to college while she worked. When they got back home she went to the community college and talked to a counselor about her options. She was late getting home that day. Her husband was waiting for her in the driveway. She got out of her car with a big smile on her face.

“Where the fuck have you been?” was his greeting.

She reminded him that she didn’t like that language and he told her to shut up.

When she showed him the paperwork she had gotten from the college he ripped it into pieces and threw it on the ground. He told her to clean it up and make his dinner.

Catherine’s first thought was to get back in her car and drive away. Then she realized she had no place to go. She hadn’t seen her friends since her wedding and her parents were a thousand miles away. She went in side and began to prepare dinner. Her husband had already drunk a six-pack of beer in a short period of time. She began to wonder if he had been drinking all along and she didn’t know that either. She fixed dinner without saying a word. She could barely eat. She didn’t want this life and realized that her husband really was a monster that pretended to be a great guy. 

It made Catherine furious that this monster pretended to be an amazing thoughtful man. She wondered why. Why did he bother to be a good guy? Why did he want her parents to like him? Why did he pursue her if he was going to mistreat her? What makes a person do such things and be so cruel? Why would did he want to be married so badly if  he hated being married? Why would he lash out at the person he loves and physically hurt them and apologize later? Why would he verbally abuse her and put her down constantly?

These were the questions Catherine asked herself every day. She desperately wanted a divorce but she remembered what he did to her leg when she first mentioned it.

 On a Friday night of the first week of marriage at home he asked Catherine to go to a party with him. She was very tired from work and didn’t feel like going but she asked whose birthday it was. He told her that she was stupid and naïve because it wasn’t that kind of party. He told Catherine that it was a party where people get together and have a few drinks and listen to music. She told him she didn’t care to go. He told her she was going. 

Catherine was quiet on the way to the party because she was afraid. She was worried drugs would be there and decided if he tried to force her to do drugs then he would have to kill her because she was not doing drugs.

The music coming from the house was great. It was Catherine’s favorite music. She began to relax and thought maybe she could have a good time after all.

            Catherine noticed that all of her husband’s friends seemed to know him very well yet she had never met any of them and none of them were invited to their wedding. Some of the men were already fairly drunk when they got there. They were making comments about how pretty Catherine was and how he had married up and that Catherine was too sophisticated for him.  He began to get very angry and told one of the guys to step outside. They got into a fist-fight. Catherine couldn’t believe her husband was so volatile and angry. The rest of the crowd kept drinking and dancing. One of the women assured Catherine that it was normal behavior for the two of them and eventually they would get tired of pounding on each other and come back in and join the party.

When they were in fact done beating one another they came in to find Catherine enjoying herself. She was smiling and dancing.  She spun around and made eye contact with her husband. His eyes were narrowed and it seemed as if he looked straight through her. She stopped dancing immediately and walked over to him. She asked him if he would like to dance with her. He responded by grabbing her by the arm. He pulled her arm so hard she thought he pulled it out of its socket. One of the men at the party that he didn’t know walked over and said that he shouldn’t treat a lady that way.

He said, “She’s no lady she a whore!”  He continued to pull her arm all of the way to the car. He was so angry he was seething. He began to scream at Catherine at the top of his lungs. He called her names and hit her while he was driving.

 His extremely unpleasant verbal abuse was more painful than the physical abuse he was delivering.

 It was too much for Catherine. She felt as if she were being attacked from every conceivable direction and she could not breathe. When she came to she was laying on her bed. What happened next was unconscionable.

He continued to scream at her like a mad man. Every horrible name he called her seemed to feel like a cut with a hot knife. She slowly sat up to plead with him to stop. He back-handed her so hard he disconnected her jaw. She tried to speak but it was entirely too painful. He continued his rampage. He was destroying the bedroom furniture while asking Catherine how she could flaunt herself all over like that. He demanded to know why she was dressed like a slut, though she wasn’t.


He grabbed her by her long hair and dragged her down the hallway. He pushed her on to a bed in the spare bedroom.

             He said, “If you want to act like a whore I will treat you like one.  He ripped her clothes off and forced himself on her. He made all of his sexual acts feel worse by narrating his every move in the most humiliating way possible. 

            When he was done raping Catherine he laughed and said, “This is where I leave you for dead right?

Catherine didn’t move. She couldn’t move and she wished she were dead. She felt as if every bone in her body was broken. She knew for sure her heart had shattered into a million tiny pieces. She lay on the bed naked, cold, battered, bruised and verbally obliterated.

When the morning sun was shining directly in her eyes, it awakened her. At first she wondered where she was. Then she attempted to get up. Her entire body was in pain even her hair hurt. It took her a ten full minutes to sit up straight.  She found that she couldn’t stand so she crawled to the shower.  She turned on the hot water and sat in the tub. She let the water run over her body until the water turned cold. After the cold water was too much to bear she shut off the water and stayed in the tub. She didn’t know how much time had passed but she hoped it was long enough for the water to be hot again. Again, she sat there until the water turned cold. She spent the entire day in the bathtub running hot water over her broken body. 

Catherine's eyes burned when the bathroom lights were turned on by her mother in law; her mother in law gasped when she saw Catherine's horribly bruised body and face.

Her mother-in-law helped her out of the tub and got her dressed. Catherine refused to eat or speak. She tried very hard to tune out anything her mother in law was saying.  The only thing that appealed to Catherine was the thought of dying quietly and alone, devoid of emotion.

When Catherine awakened the next morning she was very disappointed. She was hoping to never open her swollen eyes again so she closed them and prayed for death by internal bleeding.

Later that evening her mother in law showed up again.  She walked into Catherine’s bedroom and put her hand on Catherine’s forehead.

            “Damn it. You have a high fever. You must have some sort of infection. This isn’t good. This is definitely not good. I can’t take you to the hospital because they will want to know what happened to you. I can’t tell them or they will put my son in jail, so that is not an option. What to do, what to do,” she whispered to herself. 

Just when Catherine thought things couldn’t get any worse! She lay on the bed pretending to be delirious with fever. How could this woman look at her ravaged body and have sympathy for her monster of a son?

Catherine pretended to be asleep. She listened to her mother in law speak out loud to herself.

“You stupid little girl she said. All you have to do is behave and not get your husband angry.  You have made a mess of things. My poor son is so upset he can’t even look at you. You can’t be seen in public that’s for certain. I don’t want people to think my son did this to you. This would cause a scandal for my father and this is an election year.”

I am going to take a little break now. I will post more shortly, it is very draining. Also, I should say that I am telling this as a story because it makes it a bit easier to handle I think.

When Catherine opened her eyes again she was very groggy and found out that two days had gone by. Her monster in law had brought in a doctor friend who fixed her jaw and injected her with antibiotics. He had also taped up her broken ribs and left a set of instructions for her to follow.  She heard him say, “She needs plenty of rest and she should not be upset or bothered by any one.  I mean it. 

Catherine couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. She slowly made her way to the kitchen. Every thing she picked up felt as if it weighed one hundred pounds. She was suddenly startled when she thought about work. She panicked and was sure she had been terminated. She got dressed and went to work despite the fact she could barely walk, let alone drive. 

             When she got to work her boss ran over to her and said, “You shouldn’t be here. Your mother in law told us about your accident. My God, I didn’t realize it was this bad. Take all of next week off too. Go home and rest. Did you drive yourself here?” he asked.

All Catherine could do was nod. It’s a conspiracy she thought. They have all of their bases covered. She felt as if she couldn’t tell any one what really happened to her because no one would believe her. Her boss insisted on a co-worker driving her home and he would follow to bring her co-worker back.

Lee was one of Catherine’s co-workers. Lee was a quiet Asian woman that Catherine was friendly with. Lee helped Catherine get into the car.

Lee began to drive and said, “Catherine I am going to talk and you are going to listen. You have been completely different since you got married. I know what is going on with you and we don’t have to talk about it. I want you to know that I know. I also want you to know that you need to leave him. If you don’t he will kill you one day. I will help you and I will keep your secret. Your time is running out and I don’t think you realize that.

He is so, so sorry after he beats you and he promises that it will never happen again. He turns himself into the victim and you end up feeling sorry for him. Since your mother in law called to cover for him I assume she knows he is a monster and she is covering for him. You may not have had time to think about it but most likely her husband beats her.”

Catherine gave nothing away. She stared straight ahead, emotionless. When Lee pulled Catherine’s car into the driveway she said, Please think about what I have said before it is too late. I will help you any time, day or night.”

Later that evening Catherine’s husband came home to find her sitting in the dark. When he turned she recoiled. She could tell by the look on his face that he was shocked to see what he had done to her. She didn’t know what her face looked like. She refused to look in a mirror because she knew the image would be burned into her memory and she wanted nothing to do with. 

He sat down on the sofa next to her and touched her arm. The feel of his hand on her flesh made her vomit instantly. She vomited all over the coffee table and then leaned back on the sofa. She thought well, go ahead and kill me right now, I don’t care. To her surprise he cleaned up the mess right away and asked her if she had eaten. She didn’t answer. He asked her if she wanted to watch T.V. She didn’t answer. She stared straight ahead. He asked her if she wanted to go to bed. She jerked her head to look him in the eye which caused her a great deal of pain. She tried to kill him with a glare. She stared him down for what seemed like a minute. He got up and went to bed. 

Some time had passed and Catherine didn’t bother to keep track of it, she didn’t care. She was joyless and dialed up happy emotions when they were necessary at work and then turned them off instantly. Her husband was putting pressure on her to stop working. He told her that every day that she went to work was like a slap in the face for him. He screamed at her saying, “You embarrass me by working. You are saying I can’t take care of you. Your actions are putting me down. You are making me a laughing stock. You don’t give a damn about me. I took you in. I married you. You had nowhere to go. Your own family didn’t want you. No one wants you! You are worthless, you are weak and my whole family is mad at me for marrying you.     

       My grandfather doesn’t want you to be seen in public. He says you are an embarrassment. No wonder I have to drink! It is your fault. My family said you are turning me into an alcoholic!” 

His rant went on like that for over an hour. I am leaving out all of the vile swear words and the verbal ugliness.


When there was a lull in his rant, Catherine said in a soft and sympathetic voice, “If you are so unhappy you can divorce me, it would be okay with me.”


Boom! Her comment came at him like she fired it from a cannon at close range. He punched her in the stomach so hard she felt paralyzed. There was no breath for her draw. Her throat was dry and there was no air to be had. When she fell to the floor in writhing pain and he kicked her. Then he walked on top her to get to the door as if she was the carpet beneath his feet. He slammed the door and screeched out of the driveway. 

His rant went on like that for over an hour. I am leaving out all of the vile swear words and the verbal ugliness.

When there was a lull in his rant, Catherine said in a soft and sympathetic voice, “If you are so unhappy you can divorce me, it would be okay with me.” 

Boom! Her comment came at him like she fired it from a cannon at close range. He punched her in the stomach so hard she felt paralyzed. There was no breath for her draw. Her throat was dry and there was no air to be had. When she fell to the floor in writhing pain and he kicked her. Then he walked on top of her to get to the door as if she was the carpet beneath his feet. He slammed the door and screeched out of the driveway. 

To Catherine, it felt as if she lay holding her breath for an hour. Unless you have been punched in the stomach very hard, you cannot begin to imagine how badly it hurts, it defies definition.

            She didn’t know how much time had gone by but it hadn’t been long enough. She heard a car screech into the driveway. She thought to herself, the monster is back with a vengeance. The door swung open but it wasn’t the monster she thought it was. It was the monsters brother. Catherine still lay there on the floor in a fetal position. Her husbands brother burst into her house to scream at her.

He demanded to know how she could be so evil and heartless. How could she mistreat his brother so bad. He screamed at her just the way her husband did but with more emotion. Catherine began to sit upright. She wanted to look him in the eyes. She thought to herself, this makes you the bro-monster in law.

His face was red from shouting. The he paused and said, “My brother just drove his car into a telephone pole because of you.”

            Catherine said, “Is he alive?”

            The bro-monster said, “Yes, but…” 

            Catherine interrupted him with her response, “Too bad.”

            The bro-monster drew his fist back like he was going to hit her.

            Catherine got up ( in horrible pain) and screamed, “DO IT! DO IT! I DARE YOU!”

            The bro-monster spewed some curse words at her and left her driveway on two wheels.

The next day at work Lee walked up behind Catherine and put her arm around Catherine’s waist. Catherine winced in pain and tried to muffle a gasp.

 Lee pulled Catherine aside and said, “Meet me in the ladies room.” 

Catherine did as she was instructed. When Lee walked in to the ladies room she put her fore finger to her lips to shush Catherine. Lee opened every stall door to make sure they were alone. Lee reached under one of the sinks and pulled out an out of order sign and hung it on the outside of the door and shut the door and locked it. Lee spoke in a soft and sympathetic voice.

            “You cannot live this way. I hope you have taken my advice about the money and put aside as much as you can.”

Catherine nodded yes.

            “Is it in a safe place?”

Catherine nodded yes.

“I know what I am talking about Catherine. You must leave this man. I know he has threatened to kill you if you leave him.”

Catherine looked surprised. She wondered how Lee could know this.

            “Yes, I know these things. We don’t have a lot of time and I know your husband keeps track of your time.”

Catherine looked surprised again.

            “You see, I know what I am speaking of. Before his violence gets worse, and it will, you must have a plan of escape.  I will help you plan if you like but if you do not have a plan you will be dead. At lunch every day we can formulate a plan. It will be a big sacrifice for you because you must leave everything and every one behind. You cannot call your parents, no one, not even me once you leave.”

No one had attempted to use the restroom while they were in it and Lee was very grateful for that. Lee knew how important it was for things to appear normal to keep a nosey person from being curious. It would be much better and safer for Catherine if every one was shocked by her eventual sudden disappearance.

Lee and Catherine spent some of their lunchtime together. Lee was careful not spend her entire lunch hour with Catherine and they only had lunch three times a week, then two times a week for the next couple of weeks. During that time things had indeed gotten worse for Catherine at home. Her husband was drinking more than ever. He stayed out all night and didn’t come home until morning. Subsequently, he lost his job. He blamed his unemployment on Catherine. He told her if he didn’t have to worry about what she was doing all day and whom she was throwing herself at work then he wouldn’t drink so much. He demanded that she quit work because he could not have a woman supporting him. Catherine tried calmly and sympathetically to point out that they had bills to pay and it would be a good idea if she continued to work. 

Boom! He backhanded her. He began to scream and swear at her in that madman voice that terrified her. He told her that she enjoyed humiliating him and she lived for making him look like a joke. He said he tried to make a nice life for the two of them but every time he turned around she was doing something to embarrass him. He said it was her fault he couldn’t hold on to a job. He ranted like that for an hour.

Catherine sat in the corner in the kitchen on the floor where she fell. She stayed curled up in a tight ball. She knew he would kick her on the way out. It hurt less when she was ready for it.  


The next morning at work Lee noticed right away that Catherine was covering up her newest beating with makeup. When they had lunch later in the day she asked Catherine if he lost his job yet.

Catherine had a look of genuine shock on her face.

            “I told you, I know what I am talking about. It is your story that matters now and we need to speed it up. I work as a waitress at night and I can get you a job there too.”

            “I didn’t know you were a waitress,” Catherine said with surprise.

            “I am a very private person. I don’t talk about life or myself. It is no ones business. I keep my life simple and plan on retiring by the age of fifty. You need another job.”

            “I think that is a bad idea. Isn’t that making his drinking problem worse? I feel like I will be…”

            “Don’t say it. He is going to drink no matter what you do. He will drink more and more no matter what you do. It is going to take more and more booze for him to get a satisfied drunk on. You work hard, I will teach you and you will give him half of the money you make. You put the other half away for your escape plan.

“He wants me to quit this job. I can’t get another one,” Catherine said in a terrified tone.

            “Smile. Smile Catherine to get that look off of your face. These women around here are like sharks in the water. If you look like you are afraid it is like blood in the water for them, smile.”

When Catherine smiled Lee laughed out loud. She made it look as if Catherine were telling a story or a joke.

            “You see, that is how you keep it normal. Show nothing, give away nothing, it is important, Lee advised. He will be furious that you want to work at night but when you come home with some cash and he uses it to go out and drink, it will buy you some time, literally.”

Lee was so far ahead of where Catherine could let her mind go.

Catherine waited until her husband was feeling better from his hangover. She made his favorite dinner and was especially nice. Not that it mattered, there were so many times when she was especially nice and he still attacked her for no reason. When she told him her intention about the waitress job he flipped over the kitchen table.

The dinner, plates, glassware and silverware crashed to the floor. He picked up a kitchen chair and threw it through the kitchen window. Catherine was very afraid. She thought today may be the day I die. The monster raved like a lunatic off his meds. She said nothing and stood perfectly still. She followed his moves with her eyes only. He picked up a lamp and smashed it against the wall, flipped over the coffee table, pulled books from the bookshelves and kicked their dog.

He grabbed Catherine by the throat and dragged her over to the front door. He hit her head against the doorframe and left. She gasped for air after he slammed the front door. She didn’t move until she heard the car squeal out of the driveway. Catherine hesitantly crept over to the window and pulled the curtain back. She wanted to be sure he was really gone. She was very uneasy because his pattern was different.

She thought is this a better or worse reaction? Will he come back and surprise her? Will he be waiting down the street to see if I leave? Will he run me off the road? Will he kill me on my way to work? The one thing she did know is that she wanted to be anywhere but where she was. Living in constant fear was taking a toll on her and her health. She felt as if she hadn’t had a good nights sleep since her honeymoon.

The monster did not come that night. Catherine put a couple of large black plastic trash bags together with duct tape and covered the window. She purposely chose black because she wanted to draw attention to the window. She wanted the monster to answer any questions that may have resulted in the reason the window was broken. Not that he would tell the truth but still she wanted to put him on the spot.

Catherine never knew where the monster went when he left after one his tirades. She didn’t ask and she didn’t want to know. She went to work the next day and brought a change of clothes with her for her first night as a waitress.


Catherine really enjoyed being a waitress. She liked the pace, the way things changed with each shift and the fact that the customers were different every night. It was a nice atmosphere and there was good energy in the air. After two weeks of work she felt as if someone had pulled her from a thick fog. She forgot what it was like to feel  alive and relax a little bit. She told Lee that her idea to have her waitress was a good one.

 She said,  “I actually smiled today for the first time in a long time.           


Lee didn’t rejoice in Catherine’s happiness, instead she looked upset. Lee said, “Come to the back and lets look at next weeks schedule with me.” When they got to the back of the restaurant Lee said in a very serious and worried tone, “This is no time to let your guard down Catherine. Things are not better for you. They will never be better for you until you leave him.”

Catherine said, “No, you were right. When I give him half of my money he is happy. He thinks I am giving him all of my money. He has no idea how much money we make here. He hasn’t touched me since I began working here. He goes out all night with his brother and his friends and he sleeps it off all day.”

“It won’t last Catherine, it won’t! Some one will say something to him that will make him feel bad about himself and he will take it out on you. It will happen, I promise.  Lee was the one who look terrified now. Tell me you are still leaving him.”

“I am. I have nearly eight hundred dollars saved. I am leaving. It just feels so amazing to feel like I can take full breaths. I didn’t realize until recently how much I walk around while holding my breath.”

The next evening was Friday night. The restaurant and bar were packed with people. Her fellow co-workers were complaining about how busy it was but Catherine was thriving from the energy. The manager came by and told her the bartender was in the weeds big time and needed help. He told her she needed to help behind the bar.

When she protested because she had no experience he told her she would be fine. He said she would work the service bar and the servers could tell her what was in the drinks. Despite the fact that she was very nervous she looked forward to the challenge. Several hours had passed like minutes. It didn’t take Catherine long at all to catch on. She became very comfortable.

The bartender told her since she was a superstar she could wait on some of the bar customers near the service bar. That was something Catherine really enjoyed. She liked talking to all of the different people and groups of people that came in together. Everyone was in a good mood and happy. The regular customers applauded the bartender for putting Catherine behind the bar. They yelled out things like she’s gem and Catherine is damned good for her first night behind the bar.

The manager had gotten some positive feedback about Catherine as well. He decided to put her behind the bar on the weekends. He told her that she would have to dress like a bartender instead of a server. Her uniform would be a tuxedo shirt and a black bowtie with black slacks. Catherine decided she would look good in that uniform. It would be elegant and professional.

Lee and Catherine worked their day jobs and their restaurant jobs at night Lee was thrilled to see a sparkle in Catherine’s eyes again but she was more afraid for her than ever before.


On Wednesday evening of the following week Catherine’s husband told her she had to be off on the weekend. She told him it wasn’t possible to get off from work with out notice. Despite the fact his eyes narrowed and veins began to bulge from his neck and forehead she tried to hold her ground. The fact that she didn’t cower immediately made him so angry he could not speak. He looked at her and blinked. Catherine was petrified instantly. Surely he couldn’t be at a loss for words she thought. Her next thought was he is short-circuiting and this was definitely the end of her life, right here and now. He fell to his chair and began to sob uncontrollably. Catherine couldn’t believe what she was witnessing. She dared not move. She stood still and watched him carefully. At first she thought it was a trick. Maybe he wants me to bend down and then he will grab me by the throat. Maybe he wants me to bend down and then he will lift his head with great force and smash my face with his head. What happened next took Catherine by complete surprise.

The monster reached out and took her hand. The very touch of him made her tremble with fear.

“You don’t care about me anymore he sobbed. I haven’t been home in two weeks and you haven’t asked me where I have been. You have your day job and your night job and you don’t need me any more. You don’t even love me anymore,” he wailed.

He was so childlike and vulnerable. She was astonished. Still she didn’t move. She was waiting for the monster to blow like a volcano. When she didn’t tend to him he became more childlike.

            He was saying in between sobs and gasps, “You don’t love me, you don’t care about me. I don’t matter. No one has ever loved me, not even you. I love you but you don’t love me. I tried to be good for you but you don’t care.” 

When Catherine’s shock began to wear off she kneeled down beside his chair. He didn’t look at her but he reached out and grabbed her and pulled her in close to him as he continued to sob.

Catherine was at a loss. She had no idea what to say or do. She just let him hold her, albeit too tightly.

            “Take me to bed.” he said. Catherines entire body tensed up. He noticed it immediately. He stopped sobbing and said, You don’t love me! I knew it! Are you afraid of me?” 

Catherine did not answer him. She had never seen him like this and she had no idea what would happen next. 

“My grandmother said you don’t love me. Is she right?”

Catherine did not answer. She dared not move a muscle. She thought if he was doing all of the talking she couldn’t say the wrong thing to make it worse. She was thankful that she didn’t have a shift at the restaurant that night. She stood there praying the phone wouldn’t ring and distract him.

“My grandmother said you are a gold digging slut. I told her that you aren’t a slut and that you love me. I told her she was jealous because I love someone other than her.”

Catherine’s eyes shot open. What the heck did that mean she wondered.

The monster had turned into a little boy. It was as if he were really a child. He was talking like a little boy and his sobs subsided.

“I want you to love me Catherine.” That was the first time he called her by her name since their honeymoon and it sounded strange to hear it.

“My grandma says girls like you want too much and nothing can make them happy. Is that true Catherine? She says that is why you are working two jobs because I am not enough for you. She says that you will find a real man and leave me. Is that true Catherine?” 

Catherine felt like her brain was short-circuiting now. She thought each one of these monsters is sicker than the next. She decided the gran-monster may be the sickest of them all.

            “Take me to bed Catherine. Make it all better. Love me Catherine. I will be good, I promise.”

Catherine had no idea what to do next. The thought of him touching her repulsed her 

Catherine didn’t know if this was a psychotic break, a nervous breakdown, or a split personality.

She helped him to his feet. He lumbered along as a little boy would. She pulled the comforter on the bed back as he watched. She pulled the sheets back and he stood there. She looked at him and he looked at her. He still had the façade of a child so she unbuttoned his shirt for him. He stood still and didn’t speak. Catherine was very reluctant to remove his trousers but she did. She prayed the entire time that he would remain in this childlike state until he fell asleep. She helped him into bed and pulled the sheet and blanket up to his throat.

            Catherine said, “There you go, you will feel better in the morning.” She said it in a sing-song voice that she would use if she were speaking to a child. He smiled at her with his little boy charm. Catherine walked over to the door to turn out the lights.

            “Catherine, he said in a small voice. Can you leave the light on in the hallway?”

            “Sure,” she said and began to walk away. 

            “Catherine, you forgot to kiss me goodnight,” he said.


Catherine got into her bed  down the hall and felt fairly safe. She had no idea what the next morning would bring but for tonight she would sleep.

            The next morning she got up very early and was as quiet as possible. It was like tiptoeing around the sleeping grizzly bear. When she got to work Lee said,  You look well rested.” Catherine kept on walking.


Catherine felt like maybe Lee was upset with her. At lunch Catherine asked Lee if she was angry with her.

            “I am afraid  for you Catherine. Have you ever heard of the calm before the storm?”

            “Yes, she replied with a smile on her face. It was what Lee had taught her to do. You should smile Lee. You look worried. Lee laughed and said, “I am glad to see you are paying attention.”

            “My husband wants me to blow off work this weekend go a big party on Saturday night. Apparently it is a very big deal for his Grandmother’s birthday. His grandfather throws this huge party for her every year and invites every one whose anyone. I don’t want to go. I hate all of those monsters.”

“Monsters?” Lee smiled.

            “Yes, we have the monster I married, the monster in law, his mother, the bro-monster, his brother, the gran-monster, his grand mother.”

They both got a good laugh over that. Catherine told Lee that she had to do something to keep herself sane.

Friday night. Catherine was at work changing into her bartender uniform and feeling pretty good about her self for the first time in a long time. She carefully applied her make-up and lipstick the way she used to do it.  This time when she looked at herself in the mirror she liked what she saw. One of her co-workers said her hair would look great if it was curly. She offered to curl Catherines hair with her curling iron.

 When she was done with it she said, “Look at you miss sexy bartender! Your tips will be good tonight.”

Catherine looked at herself again in the mirror. She looked amazing. I do look sexy tonight she thought. She couldn’t wait to get behind the bar.

Catherine had a great time at work. All of the customers seemed to notice how great she looked. Everyone was complimenting her and tipping her well. That night she made three hundred dollars in tips. She couldn’t believe it. When the shift was over Lee asked Catherine if she was going to wipe the makeup off of her face before going home. Lee handed Catherine a barett to put her hair up with.

“Good point, thank you Lee.”

“Be careful and goodnight.” Lee said.

Saturday was a picture perfect day for a big outdoor birthday party. Catherine got to the party a little bit early to offer some assistance. Her husband’s entire family was there and they all had a cocktail in their hand. Catherine thought it was too early for drinking but didn’t dare say a word. Catherine walked up to the Gran-monster and said happy birthday. The Gran-monster didn’t reply.

“I came to offer my help. Is there some thing I can do for you?” Catherine asked cheerfully.

“Have a drink, she replied curtly. I have help, that’s what they get paid for.”

“I don’t drink thank you,” Catherine replied, ignoring her last comment.

“Well, you should!” the Gran-monster said with disgust.

“Look at you, look at YOU!” one of the cuz-monsters said. It was a cousin of her husbands that she actually liked. He was the black sheep of the family, so they had something in common.

“That sundress looks amazing on you. You should dress like that more often. I approve,” he said.

“No one asked for your opinion though. Go drink something.” Catherine’s monster in law said. Then she gave Catherine a once over and a look of disgust and disapproval.

“Go to hell, won’t you Grand ma-ma?  Then he grabbed Catherine by the hand. Let us see if we can get some music going so we don’t have to listen to the drunks.”

Catherine laughed and ran across the perfectly manicured lawn her cuz-in-law. 

It wasn’t long before people gathered under the massive white tents that covered the vast lawn. Catherine and her cuz-in-law where dancing and having a good time. At any of the family events he was the only one who would talk to her. Her husband didn’t seem to be jealous because he thought he was gay. 

He wasn't but he liked that they thought he was. Catherine asked him why he let them think he was gay. He said, “Because it makes them crazy and it embarrasses the hell out of them and that gives me joy!” Then he spun her around on the dance floor. 

“I wish I could stay and dance with you. This is the most fun I have had in a very long time.”

“How can I grant your wish Cinderella? He asked.

“You can’t she said. I have to work tonight.”

“Oh you little dare-devil you. Does your hubby know you are leaving early?”

“No. I didn’t tell him I decided to go ahead and work. Would you distract him for awhile?”

“While you make your get away? I’d love to. Besides, he’s well on his way to getting really drunk. He may not notice you have gone. How does he treat you by the way?”

“Don’t ask me that. Thank you for your help. You are a doll.”

He kissed her goodbye and wished her luck. They both noticed the Gran-monster staring at them.

“Uh, oh, you had better say goodbye to her or you will never hear the end of it.”

Catherine walked over to the Gran-monster with a birthday greeting and an apology. Gran-monster seemed to be boiling over with anger, a family trait Catherine recognized.

“What the hell do you think you are doing with my grandsons cousin?”

“Dancing and having fun.” Catherine said with a smile on her face.


“You really are an unworthy slut aren’t you?” the Gran-monster said in a hushed voice and a smile on her face.

Just then a well-wisher walked over to them. The Gran-monster exchanged niceties and excused herself.

“Come with me dear,” she said grabbing Catherines elbow.

Once they were on the side of the large white tent where no one could see them the Gran-monster slapped Catherine across her face.

Catherine was taken by surprise. She put her hand to her face and attempted to rub out the stinging sensation.

“Well, now I know where the abuse comes from!”

“Who do you think you are? You are some nobody who convinced my grandson to marry you and…”

“You and your family think are important and something special. You aren’t! You are all monsters. You are abusive and ugly people. You pretend to be something you are not. If people really knew you and the things you do you would be treated like the trolls that you are.”

Catherine turned to walk away.

“How dare you walk away from me when I am speaking to you. Come back here!”

Catherine kept on walking and she felt great about it. Every step forward she took felt as if a huge weights were being shed from her shoulders. She was tired of being controlled and abused by every one in that horrible family. By the time she reached her car she felt as if she had floated all the way. She decided to set her plan in motion. It was time to escape. She was looking forward to working and she knew she would make good money.

When she got to work she went into the restroom and applied her make-up the way she had the night before, but she did it with more confidence. When she stepped behind the bar she could feel her own energy. She worked hard and fast. She kept a great pace with the other bartender and the tips were being jammed into the tip jar. The entire restaurant and bar seemed to have an amazing synergy. The men seemed to be paying special attention to her.  When the drink orders slowed down at the bar Catherine found a moment to drink a tall glass of water and re-hydrate herself.

The regular bartender made an announcement to the bar. “You all need to help me congratulate Catherine on her outstanding achievement as bartender. She picked it fast and she’s damned good! Am I right?”

The bar erupted in applause and compliments.  Catherine’s face turned bright red instantly. She hadn’t been complimented like that in such a long time. She was feeling a bit overwhelmed. One of the regular customers at the bar said, “Not only are you the best bartender behind the bar you are the best looking bartender this place has ever had!”

He held out a twenty dollar bill for Catherine. It was difficult for her to reach it because so many people were packed in to the bar. As she reached out to get it a hand reached out for her and grabbed her by the bowtie and collar and tried to drag her over the bar.

            Catherine grabbed herself at the throat trying to break free of hold that was choking her. It took a moment for people to realize she wasn’t just leaning over the bar in the crowd.

The bartender jumped up on the bar and said, “Hey, asshole! Let her go!”




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