I have gone over in my head numerous times about whether to write this but decided I would go ahead since this woman is someone who taught me a lot about the victims of domestic abuse. So here we go.
Crissie is another one of my hero’s. She use to live near me and we became friends when our family moved into this house. She was pretty, hard working and a great mom to her sons. Her husband seemed also to be hard working and always willing to give a hand when help was needed and to play ball with the kids etc.
But what none of us knew was that they were a family with secrets. For ages it seems we use to get together at one of our friends homes for girl chat and pizza. We got into some pretty deep conversations about relationships and life in general. We all had something we were struggling with whether it was being a child of an alcoholic parent, struggles with anxiety that no one knew about, or physical problems etc. Through those conversations many of us were able to come out and start talking about our problems. Crissie never did say a lot other than to contribute to the conversation about other issues.
Then it all hit the fan one night when she decided she could no longer stay quiet. I got a call one Saturday morning to rush up to Annie’s house. Crissie was there with a scarf around her neck. Turns out her husband had assaulted her the night before. It was terrible. The police were called and he was told to go away and stay away. But she was afraid. We each took one of the boys over to our homes to sleep over that next night while she figured out what to do.
That was the beginning of the end for that relationship. Once we all knew what was and had been going on our protective natures all kicked in and people were watching out for her all the time, including the snowplow drivers who always made sure not to leave snow at the end of her driveway – did you know they can do that?
Crissie is one of the most incredible women I know. Over the next year she was able to accomplish so much in order to protect herself and her sons. She knew that if she did not get sole custody of the boys she would never be safe so she worked with a lawyer and talked with ADA’s etc and eventually was able to get things set up so husband could have no contact with the boys. The childrens’ legal council agreed with that plan.
She owned a business which she was was able to sell to one of her workers who then pretended that she was still owner and working there but never there when the husband would call or show up. The neighbors knew she needed to sell her house so we organized a painting party and spent a weekend painting the inside of the house and cleaning up so it would be ready to sell. And she found a real estate broker who sold the house without ever putting a for sale sign on the property.
We were sad to see her go and we all agreed that for the immediate future we did not need to know where she was going just in case we might be asked where she was. She left the state, changed her name and went to work and built a future for herself and her children. I have seen her a few times in the recent past and she is as wonderful as ever. And the good news is her sons are lovely men, kind and warm and good people. They were very lucky to have this woman for their mother. She took them out of a dangerous situation, never remarried because of concerns and the need to focus on her children. She will always be special to me and taught me so much about survival and courage.
I also learned so much about the dynamics of abuse and how women get into these situations and why they don’t just walk away. This woman was incredibly smart over the years and saw that in her home she kept things as normal as possible so that her children were safe and protected. Once that situation deteriorated she was able to take charge and see to it that her children were safe. Always close to my heart and so proud to know her.