There's no clever way to talk about an issue like this. There is no chance for a light phrase and sideways "ho ho" to soften the blows. The topic is simply too serious.
Denver Mom works in an office with a woman who has, for the last year, been in a relationship with a man who has been hitting her. Somehow, even after early warning signs coming in the shape of fist-sized bruises, the relationship has blossomed and she had purchased a home with the man. She is no longer in a bad relationship. She has long since passed that point. Her relationship has become entangled and complicated, and in recent months, frightening and unpredictable.
Last week the situation seemed to have come to a head. The woman moved out (and moved in with another one of Denver Mom's coworkers) and has vowed that the relationship was over. Given the seriousness of the abuse and its escalation, it sounded like it might "stick" this time. She has said she's getting a restraining order and is looking for an apartment.
Unfortunately, these same situations, the proclamations that it is over, the temporary refuge with coworkers, has happened several times in the past and yet the situation has only gotten worse. Will it really stick this time? Has she finally had enough? I don't know.
The entire situation is very sad. I can't understand how anyone could lash out at someone they care for with physical violence. And, at the same time, I'm even more baffled by how someone could forgive that kind of behavior, subjecting themselves to further danger, again and again. I know this is a reality for a number of people, the status quo for many people, but its still alien to me, about as familiar as breathing underwater.
The problem is that the violence is threatening to expand. Last week, one of Denver Mom's coworkers (uninvolved in all of this, but sucked in as a sympathetic ear by the abused coworker) recommended that Denver Mom should not come into the office any more. She thought it was too dangerous. The ex-boyfriend was unstable, might have access to a gun, and given how bad things had gotten, was concerned that he might do something at the office.
Denver Mom is laughing it off, in a way. She doesn't think it's funny, but doesn't think anything will happen either. On the other hand, we're not independently wealthy. What could she do, even if she thought something was going to happen? She needs her job as much as I need mine and just not showing up to work isn't an option. Unlike the building I work in, her office is completely insecure. Anyone could wander in off the street.
Do I think that something will happen? I don't. But, there's still that fear. That sneaky panic that comes in when Denver Mom is running late or doesn't pick up her phone.
I'll admit. I'm angry about this. I'm angry that this is even an issue. I'm angry with my wife's coworker for letting things get to this point. I'm angry with the change in society that allows this kind of behavior and these kinds of threats, with repercussions coming only after the fact, when it's too late, when the smoke has cleared.
Last year, a friend of mine witnessed an attempted murder at the library where she worked. Despite an eye-witness, the man got off and has gone on to threaten and attack others in and around Denver. Yesterday a 5 year old boy was taken hostage by his father, only to be killed in a murder-suicide when the police SWAT teams moved in to end their twelve hour stand-off.
Denver is a beautiful place. The people here are good, kind, healthy people. And yet this stuff happens. I'm sure this is true in a lot of cities. How did it get so bad, so fast? What kind of world will my son inherent from me and my generation?