SCARBOROUGH — As I read the many headlines in the Portland Press Herald concerning domestic violence, my own experiences flash across my mind, and I think: “There but for the grace of God go my family and I.”

After a recent murder-suicide in Boothbay Harbor, the Press Herald reported that the case may be investigated by the Maine Domestic Violence Homicide Review Panel, “a state body that studies deadly family violence with the goal of beefing up systems to identify warning signs and act to prevent it.”

Domestic violence occurs in stately mansions by the sea, in hovels in depressed areas and among everyday people looking normal and happy. I was one of those “normal” people. I believe that studies of and panels on domestic abuse will have difficulty reaching those locked in fear and control of their abuser.

My ex-husband and I were upstanding members of our profession, our community and our church. There were no police records or restraining orders. No one, not even our closest friends, knew the hell of abuse that my children and I lived with for so many years.

I am the voice of a survivor of domestic violence, and I send a plea to all who are living in hell on earth to know there is help out there. I write this from my heart and soul.

Dear Victim of Domestic Violence,


Please take the time to read this letter. It is meant for all who are living in abusive relationships.

I was asked by one of the members of my ex-husband’s family: “If it was so bad, why did you stay?”

This question has been asked to most of us who have tried to journey out of domestic violence. I believe no one can truly understand what happens to us when we are deeply entrenched in an abusive relationship.

We build a wall around ourselves and block out each abusive situation after it happens, then get on with our lives. We hope each incident will be the last. We live a charade that becomes our reality; our abnormal lives become normal lives for us.

Somewhere along the way, we gave up the right to have our wants, our dreams and our hopes honored, respected and fulfilled. We settle for peace at any cost. I felt I had sold my soul to the devil.

Recently, I sat down and began writing a litany of reasons why I stayed:


 I was ashamed.

I was afraid of the unknown.

I didn’t know where to go with four children.

I wanted to protect my husband’s good name and reputation as a respected professor.

I felt responsible for causing his abuse and responsible for fixing it.

I believed that good Catholic couples don’t get divorced – they work it out.


I was afraid of what others would think of me.

I didn’t fully realize and understand the high level of danger my children and I were in.

And on and on and on … What are your reasons for staying?

My ex-husband and I had perfected the dance of domestic violence. It followed the exact steps every time. It always had the same results. It never varied or changed.

On Aug. 20, 2005, I was in so much pain that I thought seriously of ending my life to escape his abuse and control. I feared that my husband would use his gun on me. I didn’t call the police. Insanity!

The next day, the reality of what had happened the day before hit me. I had to leave.


I mustered the courage to pack my bag and drove to my daughter’s in New Hampshire. At the age of 65, I left a marriage of 43 years.

Ask yourselves these questions:

Why do I stay in this abusive relationship?

Does anyone else treat me like my abuser does?

Am I ridiculed and mocked if I disagree with my abuser?

Do I have the right to want a better life?

Know that I have each of you close to my heart and soul. I pray for you every day for the strength and courage to leave your abuser. There is help out there.

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