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Love Tap--An Essay on Domestic Violence

Updated on July 15, 2010

Daylight--and the boldest coffee available is brewing on the Labor and Delivery unit. Irene (name changed), the charge nurse, is cleaning up the assignment board, as the phone rings. It's the ED (emergency department). They want a labor nurse to go down for fetal monitoring on a woman that has just come in by ambulance.

"What's the story? And can you go by the way?" Irene asks.

"Story's pretty sketchy. I don't think they know much yet. But they said it's a trauma. Maybe it's an MVC? {motor vehicle crash} And yeah, I'll go down," I say.

"Trauma? Well, plan to get comfy, you'll be down there for a while. Call when you need a break. And give me a heads up if I need to call NICU."

"Will do," I say, and head down the hallway with the fetal monitor.

"She's not in the trauma bay, she's in gyn, behind that curtain," says the scattered, and flustered clerk at the nurse's desk in the ED.

I head in the direction that the clerk is pointing, and found my patient. At about 8 months along, she was strapped to a back board, wearing a neck brace, and had bruises of different stages all over her body. In her right hand she gripped a cross and rosary. She looked at the ceiling, and gave quiet answers to the questions coming from all directions--the ED-nurse asking if she had any allergies, the registration clerk asking about insurance, the police officer asking the time 'everything' started.

"Hi, I'm SJ. I'm here from Labor and Delivery. I'm here to check the baby," I said to her quietly, once the room had cleared.

Curtains in the ED are only closed briefly. It is a hub of unending activity, and intrusion. Everyone is in a hurry--it can be like medical bumper cars there. But for a moment the patient, this woman, and I are alone.

Eyes to the ceiling, moments later she asks so quietly I could barely here her, "is my baby okay?"

I get close to her, "is it a boy or girl?" I ask.

"Girl," she whispers.

"She looks great on the monitor. She's doing really well," I say. And a black, mascara-filled tear travels down the side of her face to the top of her neck brace. I have donned the face that can't be read. The poker face of the nurse who plays a very high stakes game. I have had this patient, this type of patient anyway, before. I already know that this patient is afraid she will be judged, afraid she will be asked too many questions, afraid she'll lose the baby, afraid of what will happen to her child's father. Her fear is an obstacle to treatment. I have the advantage of being the least threatening person in the emergency department. I'm not using words like--protective order, jail, or warrant for arrest. I'm not giving orders. I'm not the one with the rape kit. I'm just here for the baby.

Status post domestic dispute, multiple wounds see ED eval, no abdominal trauma. Vital signs stable. Gravida 1. Abdomen soft, active fetus. No VB, LOF, or CTX at present time. SVE deferred. Fetal heart rate reactive, category 1. Currently obstetrically stable by RN assessment. Will continue to monitor. This is who she is clinically.

In my mind, she is the woman who gets beaten by a man. She is a victim, and she is carrying another victim. In my mind, part of me is angry with her. But the pity outweighs the anger, and I am reminded of my own intimate experience with a woman living with an abusive man.

Why am I not here to help you pack? Did he install a slap magnet in you? Because I kinda wanna slap you right now. When did our friendship become social work? When did our friendship become analogous to running into a burning building? Why are you letting him do this? There is no love here. He's a bully. Love is good. Good words, good company, good sex. It is not demeaning speech, terrifying encounters, and rape. What next? Clearly you can take this, but I certainly can't. If you want to break my heart there has to be a better way, one that doesn't get you killed. I can't do this anymore...too many nightmares. Don't you dare excuse him. You can take that 'bad childhood' bull crap and shove it. Real men do not bully women, period. You don't deserve this--who told you did?

I knew not to say those things to my friend, and didn't. I know how unreachable domestic violence victims can be. I know how quickly that an outstretched hand from a friend becomes the taunt of an enemy in the mind of a victim. Inside I was screaming--the way you'd scream down the side of a building at a person that has already jumped.

For the women living with an abuser, if you believe that having his child will somehow calm him down, or call him to reason, it will not. Domestic violence only escalates with pregnancy. That is a fact, and tell a friend. Children do not solidify a relationship, they test it. An abusive relationship is a dangerous, and potentially fatal environment for a child. As a mother, even if your self-esteem is not high enough to protect yourself, a mother has to protect her child Loving a child is not enough, it's his mother's job to protect him. The best protection for an abused woman is to avoid a pregnancy, and if she is already pregnant, she should find a safe and permanent way out of the environment.

But this is dribble. Abused women tend to stay at all costs. How has domestic violence not become outdated yet? And if a daddy telling his kid he loved her more often as a child would keep a few women off our stretchers in the hospital, then Dear America, can we do that?

"This is my notice to the door--

I'm not taking it no more,

I'm not your personal whore.

That's not what I'm here for."

Queen Latifah on domestic violence (U.N.I.T.Y.)

"Who's there that makes you so afraid, you're shaken to the bone?

And I don't understand, you deserve so much more than this.

So don’t tell me why
He’s never been good to you.
Don’t tell me why,
He’s never been there for you.
Don’t you know that why,
Is simply not good enough.
So just let me try,
And I will be good to you.
Just let me try,
And I will be there for you.
I’ll show you why--
You’re so much more than good enough...

Sarah Mclachlan's song, "Good Enough" on being the friend of an abused woman.


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    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 6 years ago

      Heartbreaking is the right word for sure. I also appreciate your response to the suicide article. I made my version of rounds on everyone I know who I think has or have suffered depression. Talked a lot about suicide yesterday but laughed a lot somehow. Weird. Suicide just really pisses me off. I'm such a nice person--getting mad at the suicidal. :-)

    • Ashantina profile image

      Ashantina 6 years ago

      So heartbreaking... Thank you for sharing this a.h.s.

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Hi, Kitty! Thanks for reading this. I have a hard time not taking action, that is my instinct. For every guy that's a jerk there are 10 who aren't. I do know women, and I guess men too, who are in a situation of domestic violence should be left to make their own choices. Certainly not easy though. But what will be, will be. Great hearing from you!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 7 years ago from the Ether

      wow, thanks for sharing. it is a sad and maddening situation to know someone who is a victim to domestic violence, but unfortunately the best thing to do for them is to not judge and just be there for them when they need it most. these women are going to do what they want to do and most of them feel trapped...they just have to learn how to break free. thanks for are a good person!

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Thanks for reading,M T. This is great advice.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 7 years ago from Minnesota

      Great hub and very painful. I know all too well about abuse and violence. Many in the situation believe they have no way out and their esteem is so in the toilet they start believing they cant make it without the abuser. As a person in the mental health field, we are there to support the woman or man wherever they are in the process because telling them to leave is the worst thing to do. Love and support is the best medicine for someone who is in a violent relationship. great hub

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Thanks for reading this Diane, this hub has not been read much. It's so hard to find your place as the friend of someone who won't walk away from domestic violence. I'm not the spectator type, I tend to take action. But you can't push them, they tend not to listen. Elder abuse is horrible, and common. They are the perfect victim--fearful, usually pretty helpless, and easy to disbelieve if they have dementia. It sucks. It's horrible.

    • Diane Inside profile image

      Diane Inside 7 years ago

      very sad I felt like crying after reading this, I too have worked in a hospital, but with the elderly, there is a level of elder abuse that I never knew existed. It is there in every kind of relationship, I too, would like to just shake them sometimes, I'd like to say can't you see that you deserve better than this, but of course this would not work. You are a very poigniant writer and I look forward to reading more. I am following you now so I can be reminded to read more from you. Thank you.

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Hi, Karen--I was in a bar about a year ago talking this over with a friend who'd gone through a very bad childhood, and we decided on the 80/20 goal, I think I even like the 70/30 goal. Works like this--if you had an unfair childhood, and now you're an adult working to get past it, if you can get a long well without it effecting your mood, your decisions, or your actions 80 percent of the time, then that is AWESOME! No one can expect a person to have lived through a bad childhood, their formative years, and it have no effect on their adulthood. Not a possibility, not a realistic goal. But if most of the time you're handling it well, and making decisions well despite your past, then you've in essence conquered the past, you have won. YOU have won. I'll be back on FB tomorrow.

    • karenmc419 profile image

      karenmc419 7 years ago

      It's funny...most of the time I am very good about staying in the here and now and looking forward to the near future. I don't know what triggers the past in me but I am happy it is rare. Can't change it so no point in dwelling on it and hopefully I have learned what not to do from it.

      Do whatever it is you gotta was very easy to get to your hub on FB and now I actually have to do EXTRA clicks (about 2) to get back here. Sooooo lazy. But the link is in my favorites on all PC's so it is no longer an "effort" just a memory issue to do the drop down on the menu bar. You take care honey. Going to read more from you now :)

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Hi, Sweetie--Very sorry that was who your father chose to be. Those were his issues, not yours, and as long as you continue to be in, or seek to be in healthy relationships then they will continue not to be your issues. But sorry, that's not at all how dads are supposed to be. Mothers either for that matter, she should have protected you.

      Went off FB Mon. nite, I have a ton of things going on, I need to sort them out, and I feel bad not getting back to people on FB. It's just easier not to get messages for a little bit, it's temporary, I'll be back on soon. And I saw the convention pictures before I left...cute!

    • karenmc419 profile image

      karenmc419 7 years ago

      Oh...and I LOVE that Queen Latifah rap. The Queen...she rocks.

    • karenmc419 profile image

      karenmc419 7 years ago

      WOW!!! Good one. Very sobering and just a reminder to me because I had an alcoholic father who was always grabbing the belt or stick for no reason. I will not ever take that from another man EVER!! Nor subject my children to it like my mother did. Brought back a little pain but it will be shaken off in a minute and will go read my bible. Miss you on FB. Just noticed it today cuz I tried to "tag" you in a photo from the Cow Palace. But thankfully, I found you anyway. Take care SJ. Hope all is well.