Morbid Sanctuary

by Linda Field, CCWF
A friend once uttered the words “battered no more.” While it had a nice ring, I could not help but wonder how true that statement was.
She, like me, was imprisoned for stopping the battering, the abuse. Neither of us stopped it the right way. We simply could not tolerate any more pain. As a result we are both doing “life” sentences, close to the life sentences we were already serving. The only difference were our children. They are safe, but our abuses changed.
Often, I hear the words “I love you” screamed in tune with the punches an angry fist is delivering. More often, it is the subtle mind games being played. “If you love me, you will…”
I no longer have a husband to cater to. After ten years, I am finally in a room where I can take a deep breath, sigh my relief and relax, knowing I’m safe.
I ended my marriage needing a sanctuary, someplace, someone safe and warm. What I got is a morbid sanctuary, bombarded with hate and fear. I feel like I’m playing in a mine field, never knowing when one wrong step, or word, will take me into harm’s way. Will the correctional officer treat me as a human being, or use me as a verbal punching bag? Will I be made to beg for a roll of toilet paper, or ignored as if I don’t exist when requesting passage into my room? Will I panic at a man’s raised voice, a man simply acting the part of a husband in a play? Will the respect I give be returned?
I am safe from one man, but his painful abuse is still living. However, he can no longer deny me friends. He cannot alienate me from the world. I have learned.
I have learned the importance of family and friends. I have found friends within my own self-imprisonment. Some friendships die fleeting, while others, like Judith and Jackie Lie, are long enduring. With them, I can share my deepest fears without the threat of retaliation. I can share the pain of my separation from my children and granddaughter. I can cry and be comforted. Such friendships are few and treasured.
Someday, I shall emerge from this prison’s cocoon. I pray that I will leave the battery behind and will be able to say “Yes, Charisse, my friend, finally I am battered no more.”