It takes women, on average, six to eight times to leave an abusive relationship.
There's no comfort in that. Sure, it normalizes the situation a little. But normalizing doesn't get her the hell out of there.
I suppose it's easy for me to attribute the sense of helplessness crouching at the bottom of my stomach to the more than 3000 kilometres distance. Truthfully, though, I don't know how much more in control I'd feel even if I lived next door.
I'm just so fucking angry. Enraged. I don't know if I can ever manage to take a single breath in his presence again.
The funny thing is, I've worked with criminals before, and was often surprised by the ambiguity of the situations, the profound regret.
Yet I don't know if I ever can bring myself to see the shades of grey in a man who would touch her like that.
It was weird when I thought he was just awkward, insensitive and maybe a little old fashioned in his ideas about gender.
It was awkward when they would argue in my presence.
It was difficult when I began to realize how much of his seeming nuances were actually indirect ways of having control over her.
It was worse when I caught wind of the misogynistic things he would say when the door was closed, his rants about what a good wife should be, and what she was not.
It was frightening when she called me in tears because he was senseless in his anger, and she was scared he would lose control.
Before I left, she told me of how he would tower over her, inches from her face, screaming at her. Then she told me how he'd grabbed her. And shook her. We spoke about her leaving. How she could tell him, how she would manage in practical terms. She confronted him. He agreed things were bad. They negotiated the notion of a trial separation, discussing how they needed to do things differently in their relationship. Then his family came to visit, and they fell back into the husband and wife pretence.
We spoke yesterday. And things went bad. Really really really bad.
And then she came back.
It almost scares me how textbook the whole thing is. He says it was a wake-up call for him, that things will change. But two days later, he's already telling her to shut up again. I can tell by his tone of the voice in the background that nothing has changed. I'm so scared about what's going to happen next time. And I hate the fact that I'm so convinced there's going to be a next time.
If there's one spark of a blessing, it is the people that are there. They got her out this weekend, and I know they'll do it again, as does she. I'm talking to them, we're trying to figure out what we can do to keep her safe.
Even worse, though, is that one of her friends actually told her to stay. This woman, you see, used to be physically abused by her boyfriend, but in her eyes, they worked through it. So now she's put that impetus upon my friend to "work through it". And my friend has somehow used this one woman's self-centered advice to frame it as though there is debate amongst her friends about whether she should leave. If there's any leftover capacity for anger that isn't directed at him, it is clearly directed at this woman.
But I'm 3000 km away. My rage can't do a lot from here.
I'm trying to figure out what exactly I can do from here.