The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    tmccarthy0's picture

    Only Once, Why Women Don’t Tell

    In 1984, I learned about "only once." I lived in Glendale, Colorado, where I worked at a comedy club where Roseanne Barr often performed, in fact lots of pre-famous and famous comedians performed. It was a fun job and the tips were pretty good. I had a boyfriend at the time of course, and as usual I got off work late and met him at my apartment.

    I don’t really know what happened to tell you the truth, but suddenly my jaw hurt, he punched me and I landed on the floor hard. He was screaming at me and I couldn’t speak. My jaw hurt, I was pretty sure he broke it. And again I don’t know what happened by suddenly I was hanging by my fingertips on the windowsill of my bedroom. I honestly don’t know how I got out there, I think he was trying to kill me, and he was pounding on my fingers of course I slipped. I lived on the third story of the building.  I’m sure the events to this day are not completely accurate, because I was already semi-conscious.

    I don’t know how long I was lying on the ground sobbing, but I do know that the people who dwelled in the apartment on the ground floor below my apartment heard me sobbing. To this day I cannot believe I survived that fall. I know the couple rescued me, the woman stayed with me while her boyfriend ran in bare feet to the nearest fire station, it was just around the corner from the apartment building. I don’t remember any of this, but this was the story the nurses in the hospital told me and so did my mom once she arrived in Denver where I was already in intensive care. I’m sure it was the worst thing my mom had ever seen.

    I was truly broken, my jaw was broken in five places, on top of that my hip, foot, and pelvis were also broken, and I had a black eye. I told my story every time I was asked by every single person who entered the ER to talk to me and or treat me. But I was also broken emotionally and my spirit was damaged.

    It was an odd and surreal experience, because all the male doctors who treated me didn’t believe me, they were dead sure I did something to myself to get attention and there was no way any man would do this to anyone. But I heard a different story from every single nurse who was my caregiver during my three weeks in University of Denver Hospital, I heard story after story of their sisters and mothers, their friends and colleagues who had experience so much of what I’d experienced. Those stories kept me from going crazy and doubting myself, but every single time a male doctor came to continue my treatment I heard the same damn thing over and over again, they simply didn’t believe me.

    That is why years and years pass for women and we say nothing, we’ve been doubted, not believed and blamed for the horrific things that men have done to us. You know what, this many years later I still can barely talk or write about this without hysterically sobbing and shaking and wondering if I’ll be disbelieved yet again.

    This year of the Orange Presidency has left me braver and exhausted, but it’s also left me extremely angry because I can’t believe to a person in this administration they blame women for everything men do wrong. Sometimes I just want to hide away from all of this, but I know I can’t, I know it’s time to quit hiding and take a stand against all of this insanity.

    So yes, it only happened once, but I could’ve been one of those grave statistics, a woman killed by her boyfriend/spouse and no one would have cared or done anything. And no, the cops did nothing.


    You are brave.

    What can we change ? . The rule should be: treat the woman as the victim, treat the guy as someone who will be able to tell his story in court. 

    As you painfully explain , for her to be doubted is itself punishment. Severe punishment.

    For him having to defend himself in the  courts is an  unpleasant but  unavoidable  price to pay for living in a society where the weak are protected from the strong. And they are protected from themselves.



    Yes, you are brave.  And you are strong, tough, and resilient to have come through what you went through, as wrenching as those memories and sharing them are.

    This Orange presidency--and the GOP enabling Congress-- is indeed absolutely despicable.  Perhaps it is this degree of highly public provocation and misogyny that was necessary to spark #me too.

    It is remarkable to see so many women in so many contexts coming forward.  There are men who are visibly coming forward in support and for the first time in my memory some of those who are not are on the defensive facing questions.

    I don't know if there will be a durable change for the better in norms or not but now seems the best chance for that to happen.  Many doing small and constant things will help move things forward.    

    On behalf of our daughter, our son, and the generations succeeding us for whom we must leave a better world--thank you for speaking up and sharing your moving story, tmac.


    Appreciation to TMac for writing this, but I cringe a bit when I see this word "brave". It's about surviving, not about launching some assault or taking on a challenge - more that hanging on by fingernails image, or just trying to salvage whatever self-respect or humanity - today, tomorrow, next week, one day at a time... tenacious, persevering, resisting the urge to run over the SoB or stab him with whatever's handy, because of course there is no sympathy, no male support or belief. This girl from Brooklyn who was raped by 2 cops for an hour, had them dead to rights on DNA, but all they had to do was say "consensual". They lost their jobs, but still, getting legal action against them is very hard. Plus every male she talked to thought she must have done something to bring it on. I don't quite get that - there was a cop in Denver who regularly abused girls he found alone on the street. Anyone who's seen Bad Lieutenant should know the routine. Maybe most males are just stupid, clueless, threatening and vindictive, and we have to start from there. It's not a complete picture, but we can't wait for perfection.

    Tmac, thank you for sharing this very personal and painful story.  You are indeed brave.  I have seen battered women, babies, and worse during my ER years.  You are truly lucky you survived that night, and even all these years later I am outraged that the police let it go.  Who knows what that guy did to others?  

    I went out with someone I had known all through high school.  He had just come back from Vietnam and was staying with his parents for a brief time.  We were in the basement talking when he flew into a rage and started throwing glasses at the fireplace, shattering them.  I had no idea what to do, no thought about who I should call to get me out of there.  Finally I just insisted on him taking me home, which he did.  The flowers started arriving the next day.  I accepted his apology, and felt really bad about not going out with him again.  But I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t.  

    I think now that he must have had PTSD; the high-school friend I knew was funny, easy going and generally nice. Of course, I think it is possible to be all those things in one setting and an abuser in another.  I would like to think that his behavior was due to PTSD and he is better now, but I told that story to my daughter, and made sure she understood that it is never a woman’s job to give any violent person a second chance.

    My boys also got it.  One of their high school classmates went to prison for abusing a girl, and my son said he should have been in jail sooner because this wasn’t the first time, although it was just a rumor.  No one else ever reported being attacked by him, evidently.  The isolation and self-doubt that abused women face is a serious issue, and one that is finally getting attention.

    Thanks for posting, tmac

    I believe you, tmac.  My heart is sore for you because you had to relive this bad thing in order for you to tell this truth. I am sorry it happened and I believe you.

    I was going to apologize for being late but damn, I aint that late.

    Yeah, the orange presidency.

    That Florida Cuban prick tried that approach; it got him nowhere even though that Florida Cuban prick never did one goddamn thing for any minority or for the real Majority: women.

    The cliche is that we have a daughter or daughters.



    I have these little and perfect granddaughters.

    Two of them now have bunk beds and the younger keeps on kicking the upper bed that Precious lies in.


    That is all fine and dandy.

    But who is going to stick up for these children as they progress onto adulthood?

    Well a torch has been passed onto a new generation, as they say.

    My son and his bride will no longer stand for this kind of crap; the infamy that you found yourself in.

    The 'quiet' shall not stand.

    If we deny, then there will be no truth.

    Thank you for this Mac.

    This is of import.


    I just read this.

    Thank you!



    There is this new charge? against Tarantino? and some terrible experience by Uma?

    I kept thinking of this song in Uma's movie.

    I do not know why this song haunts me?

    I think the problem with the Donald types has always been that they have a vested interest in keeping the macho system where men own the women that have pledged to them. Where the strongest get the most power and the weakest are owned and protected. While they don't like the idea of violence being a part of keeping the weaker obedient, and secretly see it as weak too (i.e., you're such a sissy that you have to hit on a woman?) they'd like to be able to handle this man on man in private. Not having it out in the open for everyone to judge. Because then it's an actual crime and looks like their whole system of strong over weak starts falling apart...which it is...

    Edit to add: I think the whole "MAGA" meme is related. Back to the days when men and women knew their place.

    I considered talking about Kelly and decided that  it  would be wrong to shift the emphasis from tmacs terrible  story. But  after  having  done that  appropriately  this is , mostly , a political site so  what political action will move things in the right direction. In a hundred years it can't be fixed but so what? What can be done not to fix it but to increase the chance that in 50 years it won't still be the same?


    I think the Sisters (and their Brothers) are taking care of that for themselves.
    Not just in some general sense of influencing the standards of what is acceptable.
    But in the sense of raising a generation of women who don't even see the lines others have drawn for them.
    Keep that up long enough and everything will change.

    Kudos to you for writing about it, must have been incredibly hard and you've done it so well, it's a very powerful testament.

    This was I'm sure a challenging story to tell and you told it well and movingly. Thanks. I do call you brave - not because you were brutally assaulted - because you got up and are telling it.

    Much love, Theresa.

    Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story with us, Theresa. I'm so sorry that this happened to you, so sorry that this happens to anyone. I hope that your courage and the courage of women like you help to overcome those who commit these crimes and those who pretend not to see them.

    My wife suffered domestic abuse during the course of her 1st marriage. She still has night terrors from time to time. We need to do better. God bless you.

    I've thought about your words, your experience and your strength when you chose to hit "save" on this post often in the days since you did.  I still don't have my own words to respond in a way that I guess I should.  Support?  Sure, you have that from everyone who's read this.  Admiration?  I suppose in the "brave" sort of way you have that, too.  Broken hearts are everywhere ... all who love you feel the break in your own and want to hug it better.  Hug our own better.  Make it better.  Somehow.  Please.

    But it can't be better.  Abuse, assault, pain ... it will never be better; it will never leave your life.  If the perpetrator (what's the right word?) goes to jail or not - if they are publicly shamed or not - if you get a monetary settlement or not - if strangers believe you or not - nothing is changed.  The only true change happened to you in that frozen piece of time and will never be erased.  It can only be absorbed ... and the great among us build on it.   

    Long before this post, Theresa, those here and most certainly elsewhere have known you to be the fascinating person that you are.  Smart, sassy, funny, intolerant of fools and more than willing to say so.  Not content to rest on your laurels about politics, you get your ass out there and open your mouth ... and your heart.  You're not what you refuse to be, what you've never been: invisible.  You are the who I admire, not the what you've been through.

    You go, girl.


    I am having trouble posting the link from my handheld but see Dana Milbank' s WashPost column today offering words to help out Sarah Huckabee Sanders on the subject of the White House's handling of the Rob Porter debacle.  His is about as devastating a portrait of complete dysfunctionality in this White House as I have come across.

    I am tempted to offer this as example of the fish rotting from the head down but I don't think that is the case here.  Toleration of sexual assault long predated Trump's arrival on the scene.  He may indeed play an unintentional role in helping us deal with it through his own revolting conduct and the tone he has set in the White House allowing Porter to be hired and remain on the scene as long as he did.

    This may be encouraging more people to step up, speak out and organize to bring about change sooner than might otherwise have been the case.

    Thank you. I am humbled by how brave you are.

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