My forthcoming novel, The Clay Remembers, deals with the subject of domestic violence:
When archaeologist Anna Robinson’s husband becomes increasingly violent in his effort to keep her under his control and isolated, she runs away to the Southwestern desert where she feels at home for the first time in her life. Finding a network of supportive friends and the freedom to pursue her career dreams, she believes she is finally safe. When her husband shows up the first time, her new friends stand with her in the face of his threats, but when he comes back, armed and dangerous, she must rely solely on her wits and the strength she has drawn from the creative and expressive forces of the earth and the stories the artifacts tell.
Anna’s flight from her husband is in the vein of Sleeping With the Enemy with touches of Outlander in the experiences she shares with two women whose stories of survival come to her through the prehistoric and historic artifacts she uncovers. It is a story that illuminates the legacy of the past as a means of understanding the present and tells the eternal story of a woman trying to find her voice and her power.
My character, Anna, is not unlike many women who find themselves in an abusive marriage. As a vulnerable young woman, she allows herself to be drawn into an unhealthy relationship with a man who has cultivated a public persona that masks the reality of who he is. There were signs that Anna might have heeded if she had known, but she wasn’t aware of them. Here are six warning signs to look for from Pamela Jacobs’ blog:
- He will romance you. He will buy you flowers and gifts. He will likely be the most romantic man you have ever met. He will pay attention to you and make you feel special and wanted. You may find yourself thinking that he is too good to be true — because he is. He needs you to trust him and develop feelings for him, because it is much easier to control someone who loves you.
- He will want to commit — quickly. He will say that it’s love at first sight, that you are made for each other, and that he can’t imagine his life without you. He will sweep you off your feet, and tell you he has never loved anyone this much.
- He will want you all to himself. He’ll make you feel guilty for spending time with friends or family. He will call or text you several times a day, and may accuse you of flirting or cheating. He will say he loves you so much, he can’t stand the thought of anyone else being near you. And soon, no one else will be. This is the beginning of isolation.
- He will be very concerned about you. He may get upset if you don’t call him back right away or if you come home late. He will say it’s because he worries about you. He will start to make decisions for you — who you spend time with and where you go — and claim to know what’s best for you.
- He will be sweet and caring — sometimes. He will be the sweet, loving man who everyone else sees, and who you fell in love with. But, sometimes, he will become the man who puts you down, makes you feel guilty, and isolates you.
- He will play the victim. If he gets in trouble at work, it’s someone else’s fault. He may apologize for yelling, putting you down, or hurting you, but will always find a way to make it your fault. He will say things like, “It’s just that I love you so much,” or “I wish you didn’t make me so crazy.” Eventually, he will blame you for making him hit you.
Pamela Jacobs is an attorney and speaker dedicated to empowering women and ending sexual assault and domestic violence. Find her at http://pamelajacobs.com.
Jacobs provides more details for each of the warning signs, but I selected out those that apply to the relationship between my character, Anna, and her abusive husband. Interestingly enough, I did not use this list as a reference before I wrote the book and developed the character of Foster Robinson and the manner in which he groomed Anna to become his victim. There were elements of his past (his backstory) that would have been prime indicators of his penchant for violence, but when that past was effectively hidden, Anna had no way to know what she was getting into.
Ironically, Anna’s past (her backstory) involved growing up in a house where domestic violence was a regular occurrence. For her, then, to find herself in an abusive relationship comes as a shock since she had sworn all through her life that she would never marry an abuser. It is that past, however, that leads her to make the decision to run away to where she hopes he will never find her.
There are too many women (and perhaps men, also) who are caught in an abusive relationship and cannot leave and who do not need public damnation for staying. Too often, women do not have the financial resources to leave, they have children whom they must protect, or the consequences of trying to leave are deadly. Fear of staying is often tempered by fear of leaving.
I hope that Anna’s story can offer other women in her circumstances the courage to leave.
Learn more about The Clay Remembers at www.sharonkmiller.com.