She was young and it seemed he had always been in her life. Years before he had dated her older sister and although she had ended it, the mom saw the guy had a poor home life and so “adopted” him, telling him he would always have a place at their table. He came often, spending hours, bringing gifts, even to the little girl.
He was a war hero, a Green Beret. It was a time of divisiveness in the nation. The girl hated the war but she felt some pride that he took that challenge and faced something she could not even imagine. He showed her some shrapnel scars but told no stories.
The summer she was twenty he started making his moves. He kissed her in a way brothers don’t kiss sisters and it confused her. She was off for the summer on a job and he wrote often. She found she looked forward to his letters and when he suggested she come to where he was working for the summer instead of returning home, she agreed.
The first night he made her comfortable and did not touch her. The next day he made small moves and by that evening, she was prepped. Things progressed and when he finally drove her home, he declared he loved her. She responded, as her mother had taught her, to the words of promise.
She still had two years of college to complete, but she had been taking extra courses all along and by taking classes that next summer, she was ready to graduate a semester early. They got married and he whisked her away to his home, 1000 miles from her family. It was an adventure.
She got a good job following her graduation. She sometimes had to travel and used a company car, as she had none of her own. He would not let her use the car, often taking his motorcycle and leaving the car sitting in the driveway. She did not press for a key, as her mother had taught her that the man is the boss.
He’d come home angry. He hated his job. Each day, as her mother had taught her, she would try to be pleasant, to ease him out of his foul mood. Days later, weeks later, months later, she tried different tactics to reach him. When she tried to be more reflective, speaking calmly but clearly that his action was affecting her, he got angrier.
Each night, as her mother had taught her, she prepared for sex by inserting her diaphragm. Just about each night he would force his way into her unaroused body and she would send her mind somewhere else. She did have one niggling thought that if there had been any foreplay to get her aroused, maybe he would not take so long to climax.
He took her to a range to show her how to shoot a gun. He gave her his .357 magnum as the weapon to shoot. It was heavy but she aimed as he instructed and somehow hit the center of the target. She stopped there, handing the weapon back to him. For once she had the position of being the one causing confusion. It was clear he wanted to intimidate her. He never pulled the guns out again.
She discovered she had a breast lump during some rough sex. In the days before scans and needle biopsies she had a surgery scheduled and signed away her boob if the tumor was malignant. He told her not to come home if she was deformed. It was benign and he picked her up, making her wait a few hours for him to get her.
Finally, 15 months into the marriage, they took a belated honeymoon. She bought a new negligee and anticipated a walk on a secluded beach culminating in some reawakening of the passion he had claimed prior to the marriage. He refused to go for a walk on the beach, ripped the new gown to shreds and continued as always. The next night, when she plainly said she wanted some love making, he hit her.
Immediately her head cleared. Suddenly she knew she could no longer be the compliant wife, the good little girl there to please her man. In that one strike she realized that he could kill her.
It still took another month before she told him to leave the house and not come back for 3 hours. She had been sharing what was happening with a girlfriend who came to rescue her. She moved out that day, New Years Day 1977 and started to get her life back. She had nightmares for years, but over the years, she learned to rely on herself. That a man could be a good companion but was not the keeper of her life.
We have men in this country who believe that women are playthings, not people with equal rights. That there can be no rape in marriage, that the man should just take what he wants. Some of those man who speak that way hold public office and at least one is running for the Republican party nomination for President. He is highly popular and it confuses me that any woman could be in reality and prefer him.
Our daughters need to be taught that they are precious and deserve equal and fair treatment. Our sons needs to be taught that women must be respected and treated with love. They all need to be taught that lust is not love and that choosing a partner needs to be based on behavior and actions, not words.