Diagnosis of the Battered Wife

Lady liberty’s easy to talk about. She’s big and green and she touches two oceans. Her abuses are easy news. Her litmus always rings the true acidity of the American standard.

Like all convenience, it’s a dodge.

She’s alright now. Her face is healed. Her husband is in anger management. He hit her because she wouldn’t clean the house. He took anger management to avoid prosecution. She arrived to defend him. It’s his culture that’s different. It’s his way.

They hear it all of the time. Sometimes, policemen do their jobs well. When it involves battered wives, I’m always surprised, given the stats on police and domestic violence. But some do their job well, and they put the man who uses his wife as a punching back in handcuffs.

It’s the other side of darkness. We always know it’s there in him. He’s the guy. He’s the dude. He’s our best friend. He’s our drinking buddy. He’d never do it. He has too much at stake.

He does it. He doesn’t regret it. He’s a friend who beats his wife. He’s a man who strikes a woman for not doing what he says.

He is 6’4″ if he’s an inch. He’s nearly 300 lbs. He once competed in martial arts.

She is 4’11”. Her weight is negligible. She is defending him, now that her face has healed.

We defend him. We adore him. He kills in our name, the disposable dude. The guy who does it for the team. He’s the guy who makes all the right moves. He’s the guy who plays all the right games. There are a million of them out there, and their alternative is an effeminate pansy with no nerve.

A friend complains about persistent guys, guys who don’t know when to quit asking. You try to tell them. You try to explain that’s what the girl wants, the woman with the puffed out eye. This is what works, the bad animal blues spilt out across the court docket day in and day out. My friend, who beat his wife. My friend, who juggles Child Support indigents. My friend who’s never had a women. My friend who lies about her lies.

We are a bad animal. We love ourselves for it. In the broader outlook, on the broad sheet in broad daylight it’s blindingly plain and typically false. The mind rebels. The eyes see only reflection off of gilt. Every look, though. Every simple, sad, twisted little smile to undo the look of denial. He who denies he did it. She who denies he’ll do it again.

A girl I once knew was systematically abused by a family member for most of her life, from childhood to young adulthood, so regular you could set your calendar by the shaking, twitching, abominated remainder she was the day after. She never could smile it away.

He died in an accident. Nobody lives forever. The smile breaks eventually. What we are, naked before the lamplight, torn and beaten and shredded in our uniform and smiles is us. It’s what we wish we weren’t but can’t buy away.

She’s bleeding into the pavement now, she and all the others. Lady liberty drinks her blood to nourish the rats of Eros.


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