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27 June 2008
Domestic violence involves more than just the perpetrator and the victim, June 27, 2008
This book points out some very sad realities of serious cases of domestic abuse. Of course there must be a perpetrator and a victim, but in general there must be collusion as well. Relatives that would have the power, at least in theory, to intervene must either approve of it or be blind to the existence. Friends and other people known by the perpetrator and victim have to also either approve or be oblivious to it. Even the clumsiest of people don't fall down that much. Finally, authorities such as police officers must find a way to rationalize or tolerate it. To someone who knows nothing about severe domestic violence, the events in this book, the collusion of relatives, ignorance of police officers and the amazing rationalizations of the victim will seem artificial. Which is unfortunate, as it is all too true.
Helen Waters is married to a wild, yet charming man named Mark. To the outside world, he is a good, decent provider who is concerned with the welfare of his wife and daughter. Yet, behind the curtains, he is paranoid, delusional and believes that Helen does everything wrong. A controlling personality of the worst kind, he dictates her every action and even slight deviations from his script are severely punished with beatings, even to the point of broken bones. Finally, Helen has had enough and she flees with her daughter Louise. She cannot ask her parents for help as Mark has convinced them that Helen is the problem.
They move from place to place until they end up in a small Scottish town. Helen rents an apartment and gets a job at the local hotel. It is difficult for them, as outsiders, it is hard for them to make friends. Helen takes the new last name Mills and she tells everyone that her husband was killed in a car accident and they moved in order to avoid the bad memories.
Helen meets a local man named Jerry and they hit it off right away, becoming sex partners on their first actual date. They interact fairly well, but Helen's suppressed fear keeps her from truly opening up and becoming emotionally intimate. When Mark finally tracks her down and begins sending her messages and packages containing dead animals Helen and Jerry break up.
The cycle of fear and intimidation continues and includes a team of police officers where the veteran is dumb and the rookie (Brown), who is much more understanding, at first refuses to buck his superior. In a climactic scene, Jerry and the officers rush to the rescue, although Brown's initial inaction almost leads to Helen's death.
The ending is odd, after reading it twice I am still uncertain as to what has happened. However, this is a story that rivets your attention and comes across as being a description of actual events. Some of the situations are unusual enough to have that honest ring of truth as they are sounded out

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