I don’t listen to ‘The Archers’ ….in fact I don’t follow any soap. However, one can hardly ignore the furore that has been caused by the ‘Domestic abuse’ storyline. I mean, the trial verdict was even reported on the BBC Breakfast programme this morning, and my Twitter feed has been full of comments from ‘Archers’ fans.
Apparently the story involved the classic ‘Control freak’ ….isolating his victim from friends and family and mentally abusing her.
I think that form of abuse is, actually, much more common than we realise and it happens in all manner of households ……..
In fact, I strongly suspect it is gradually happening to one of my neighbours……. but, though I have tried to intervene, she just can’t see it. I really hope she comes to her senses before things go any further …..but, sadly, I doubt it …………
I wrote this over a year ago ………….. and have re-blogged it before. But I believe it is worth re-blogging again ……
Caroline sat on the floor and watched as the orange rolled slowly towards her. It’s waxy, pitted surface taking on an almost amber hue, as it traveled from the pools of rainbow sunlight that glinted through the window and came to rest in the shadows beside her.
She reached out, as if in a trance and picked it up; digging her fingernails into the thick skin, the zest sending out little spurts of citrus oil, scenting her fingertips. She put the fruit to her lips and tasted the slight bitter-sweetness, smelled the fresh fragrance, breathing it in. Then she held the cool orange against her reddened cheek and calmly surveyed the room.
The remains of the china fruit-bowl were scattered all around her and nestled amongst larger pieces of glass; huge chunks from the shattered, glass, coffee-table. Apples, oranges and pears had tumbled across the carpet and were now coming to rest against the sofa and rolling under the TV.
The loud crash and confused chaos that had filled the room, had now turned into an uneasy silence and Caroline sat, gazing at the scene before her and smiling wryly.
It had been a strange day.
From the moment she had woken, leaping quickly into the shower, not daring to be late, she had felt something was about to happen. But she had no time to ponder on this, breakfast had to be on the table promptly, or she would suffer the consequences …. again !!
She dried her slim body and pulled on underwear and a high-waisted, grey jersey dress. It had long sleeves and came down almost to her ankles, completely covering her body; hiding any scars and bruises. With her red boots and wrap, she would resemble all the other middle-class women in the supermarket; her secret would be safe.
Breakfast passed with only one broken mug and a twist of her wrist.
He was in a good mood; he was off to the football later, with his pals. She kept out of the way as he gathered his coat and scarf and departed. He would be gone until tea-time, he would meet his pals in the pub. She knew that they cruised all the bars in the area, until match-time. Saturdays were always the same, she dreaded them.
She made the bed, washed the dishes and then pushed the vacuum cleaner around the already spotless sitting-room. Everything had to be perfect, she didn’t want him to find any dust …. that always incensed him. She rubbed her hip ruefully, remembering the last time ….
The phone rang and she answered it, reluctantly, fearing bad news, but it was her daughter asking if Caroline could call at the chemist and pick up some teats for the baby’s bottle. They chatted for a while; happy voices, betraying nothing and then Caroline said her goodbyes and, checking her hair and make-up, she popped on her wrap, grabbed her shopping list and her handbag and set off to purchase the weekend’s groceries.
Caroline hurried around the supermarket, filling her large trolley with all his favourites; making sure that his every whim would be satisfied, hoping for a peaceful couple of days. She was so engrossed in her list that she backed into another shopper and turned to apologise,
“It’s okay, honey “ said a cheery voice and Caroline looked into the eyes of a friendly-looking woman, about her own age. The stranger had long, untamed hair and a rather casual appearance.
“Good god, lovie, you feeding an army ?” enquired the woman. Then she grinned, impishly and added “Sorry, that was rude of me. I was only kidding. But, you look so hassled, you remind me of myself …. how I was a couple of years ago “
Caroline smiled, shyly and the woman laughed; a huge, happy, joyful laugh and said,
” Look, I’m Maisie. I’ve seen you here before and often wanted to say ‘Hello’. How about we have a cup of coffee, when you’ve finished shopping …… to recover from those queues for the checkouts ? I need to talk to you”
Caroline paused and backed away slightly, hugging her wrap closer to her slim body in fear. He had always discouraged her from having friends …… He liked her to be reliant on him; wanted no idle, girly chatter about their life. He had made sure that she lost contact with all her friends; stopped her from working so she had no cheery colleagues; even her family barely saw her. He enjoyed the fact that she was isolated, had no-one to turn to.
Dare she ? ….. But, this was an unusual day …… something inside snapped and with a rebellious tilt of her chin, she smiled and said,
“Hello, Maisie, I’m Caroline ! Pleased to meet you, I would love a coffee “
She couldn’t believe she had been so bold, but, as they sat down in the little cafeteria, a feeling of contentment swept over her and she suddenly felt stronger; less afraid.
Maisie and Caroline sat for over an hour and many secrets were spilled out over the formica-topped table.
More coffee was bought and eyes were dabbed with the rough paper napkins. Telephone numbers were exchanged and Maisie, who knew from bitter experience, just what agonies Caroline was suffering, offered help, advice and support.
Finally they hugged and parted, going their separate ways. Caroline to her smart, two-storied, detached house, in the suburbs, where she lived in dread and fear. Maisie to her homely, one bed-roomed flat in town, her refuge, her escape, a happy place.
He was roaring drunk when he returned and pointed accusingly at her,
“You bitch, where the hell is my tea ? I told you I wanted it on the table when I returned. You lazy slut, you’ve done it this time, I’m going to give you something to remember, you will be sorry……. I’ll fuckin’ kill you ” ………………………………………………………….
Caroline sat on the floor in the sitting room, holding the orange with one hand and rubbing her knee with the other.
She had banged her leg against the bookcase when she had fallen. Mmmmm, yes, her head was a little fuzzy from the slap across the face, but she remembered hitting him back. Yes ….she had actually struck back ……….
Her new-found courage had startled him and he had cursed and lashed out again as she had turned and run, defiantly, into the sitting-room, losing her slipper in the flight.
She tilted her head and looked at the blood, it was seeping into the carpet. Oh, how on earth was she going to remove that stain ? Erm….. hadn’t she seen something on one of the TV adverts ? Yes…. maybe …. oh, she couldn’t think.
The “drip, drip” was distracting; annoying even !
Ruining the peace and quiet.
But, she supposed, it would drip for some time yet.
He was so drunk, that when he pulled off his belt to beat her, his trousers had slipped and then he had tripped on her discarded slipper and crashed headlong onto the coffee table. Now a huge, sharp, shard of glass pierced his throat,
“Drip, drip, drip”.
He was quite dead.