A Disclaimer: this is very graphic and not for readers below the age of 18.
Addendum: I’ve added a companion video (one scene from my feature film “Abridge” that I wrote/produced/directed/edited back in 2006).
This is not based on any one person I know but an amalgamation of women I’ve met, stories told to me and those I’ve read. It was hard to write and I know many people find it hard to read. But there is violence against women and children every day and we have to put a light on it, we need to stop it.
I’ve met women who got out of their marriage the day after the wedding and women who stayed with the same abusive man for 25 years. If you are in this situation, or know someone who is, understand this: it is okay to leave, the world won’t end, there is someone better for you, and being alone is okay. Yes you can and will love again, you can and will feel that sweet bliss of being with someone who cares, respects and loves you.
Most of all: love yourself first and all else will fall into place…
Need help or want to help? Go to the Vancouver Rape Relief and Woman’s Shelter
Also visit Women Against Violence Against Women
Dedicated to all women who’ve suffered…
I left my body
Behind and wondered
Off into the mist
When I returned
I found me
Battered, bruised, alive
I let this happen?
It’s society’s fault?
I have nowhere
Else to go?
I’m afraid to be alone?
I’m not worth it?
Tell me again
Tell me again, and again
Until my skull is cracked
Lessons to be learned
About stepping away
From such anger and pain
Not quite late
Not quite late does
It sink into
Mending bones, and
Clouds how they break
Finding me waiting
To leave behind
To leave behind
A single spot lights up on the stage. A forty-year-old Sandra limps into the light. Her face is worn, scared and bruised. Her clothes are ill-fitting and she doesn’t smile.
I turned forty two months ago. You know how I celebrated? By being brought to the emergency ward with three cracked ribs, a cracked eye socket and a concussion. It was a good birthday too. Last time I, well, it doesn’t matter. My mistake was I reminded him of my birthday. I disturbed his football game cause I wanted to have a cake. Just a small cake to remind me I’m still on this earth. Our kids? Sarah and Daniel were well out of the house by then. Pete kicked Daniel out when he turned 16 and Sarah when she was 15. He was tired of them. I didn’t say anything to change that. Why would a mother allow that to happen? But, but, I did ensure they were taken care of. My aunt in another city took them both in. Pete doesn’t know that. He still thinks they’re out on the streets somewhere. I couldn’t make them go through what I did.
A spot to the right of Sandra lights up on a seven year old girl. She is holding a blanket and a teddy bear and is quietly humming a song to herself.
It was the mid-sixties. My mom and dad were both working to support me and my three brothers. My favorite time was playing with my doll. I named him Henry. Henry went with me everywhere until dad came home one night. He’d been drinking.
The child looks up and is suddenly scared. She holds out the bear and a hand grabs it away from her. Then a sharp slap is heard and the spot on the child goes out and Sandra feels her cheek.
He went through each one of us with his belt. It only got worse until…
A spot turns on to the left of Sandra and a 10 year old girl is standing there wearing a night gown.
Daddy? What are you doing? Daddy no!
The girl throw up her arms and screams as the spot light goes out.
From the age of ten I was sexually abused by my dad. Anytime I was alone with him. He did
horrible things to me. Horrible. Then, something snapped in me. It was three days after my sixteenth birthday. I was alone in the house with my dad. I couldn’t take anymore.
A spot turns on to the right of Sandra and a sixteen year old girl is standing there. She looks frightened and has something hidden behind her back.
Daddy no. I don’t want to. No Daddy! No.
The girl brings her hands up to show she’s holding a large knife with a wide blade. She brings is down with a scream and her spot turns off.
After I stabbed him, I took all the money out of his wallet and ran. Never looked back. I never found out what happed to him. I hopped a bus to another city, changed my name and lived on the streets for a while. Got into some bad things. Really bad things. Drugs, prostitution, I could do no more than breathe at that time. I finally saved up enough to move to yet another city. Cleaned up and somehow got a job as a janitor. Then, my first apartment. I was getting on my feet. Then just before I turned eighteen I met Pete. He got me a better paying job with him at this bottle factory. When I turned eighteen we moved in together. I thought everything was great. But even then I was often drinking to smother the pain from his punches. I, I think I didn’t know anything else. You know? Well, he stopped when he found out I was pregnant with Daniel. The day after I returned home from the hospital with him he started up again. Then stopped again when I was pregnant with Sarah. But he changed after Sarah was brought home. He quit drinking, cleaned up and stopped hitting me or Daniel. I could never figure out what it was. Anyway, for seven years he worked hard to gain a management position at his work. Then one night. Sarah was seven and Daniel was ten. He returned home after losing his job.
At the same time the two spots to the right and left of Sandra turn on. To the right is a frightened and quietly crying girl of seven. On the right is a boy of ten, also crying and frightened. Sandra bows her head and her spot fades out as incoherent screaming ramps up. The boy and girl react as slaps and punches are heard over and over. Then there is one sickening crunch and it is silent.
Girl and Boy
The sound of an ambulance ramps up and then fades down as the spot over Sandra fades up.
It was the first time I ended up in the hospital. He used a baseball bat on me. Cracked my skull, broke my arm and my right leg in three places, giving me a limp. I didn’t care what he did to me. I wanted to make sure he doesn’t touch the kids. The kids. Well he did anyway. I know he beat them. I hope to god he didn’t sexually abuse them. I always made sure they were never alone with him. I couldn’t stop the beatings, but I hoped to god there wasn’t any sexual abuse. I often wondered why I stayed with him. Really? What the hell was wrong with me? Of course I see it in hindsight. I truly felt I had no other choice. Where was I going to go? After Daniel was born he forced me to stay home so I never had my own money. He controlled everything. Money, where we go, what we’d do. I couldn’t buy extra food for the kids with out an argument about it. Soon this, understanding sank into me. That I could either return to the streets, like I did when I was sixteen or, stay here. Here at least I’d have a roof over my head and food on the table. At any cost. At any cost. Three years ago my Sarah had enough and left. From then on Pete would randomly beat me. One night I woke up to him hitting me with a bat. It got worse and worse until two months ago. On my fourth hospital visit in as many months this woman, Barbara came to my bedside. She said I had a choice. I could go back, or I could escape and start a new life.
Start a new life? With what? What do I have to offer? Then Barbara told me her story.
A spot turns on to the right of Sandra and she turns towards Barbara standing there.
I was also sexually abused when I was young, by my uncle. My husband would beat me with his belt until the skin broke on my back. He’d let it heal, then he’d beat me again until it broke open. One day I’d had enough. I walk out the front door with my suitcase. But then he shot me in the back. He was charged with attempted murder and is still in jail. I healed, joined a woman’s group and picked up my shattered life. You can do the same. You can. You are so worth it.
Barbara’s spot fades out as Sandra turns back to the audience.
This got me to thinking. Maybe I could leave. So, after I was released I got home and found him drunk and passed out. I packed what I could and ran. I went to the woman’s shelter and stayed there for three weeks until I found a job. But then the third day of my job he showed up. Pete was standing there in the hallway. He was shaking he was so angry. He raised his arm and then I saw the gun.
A shot is heard and…
Sandra’s voice in the darkness.
Why is all I can ask. Why.
The events depicted in this play are fictitious as a whole. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.