“Deceit gets itself a credit in small things that it may practice to more advantage in larger.” - Francis Bacon
She is bright; tall; elegant; classy. Ambitious. Through hard work and perseverance, she had reached significant success in her field. The kind of woman that you hope and pray that your son will bring home to introduce as his future bride.
We had lunch years ago. I knew that things had not been going well for her, but I knew few details. The problem with life as we live it. There’s just not enough time.
She looked great. She always looks great. The aura of tension that I had sensed for several months had diminished. I put on my listening outfit and gave her an opening.
Give me an update.
“Where do I begin?”
Let us try the beginning. We have time.
Several years ago she met Mr. Wonderful. Or so it seemed. Bright; successful; charming. Recently divorced. An excellent father. He was attentive to her every need. Her parents loved him. There were
many expensive presents, culminating on the outrageously priced engagement ring.
“He swept me off my feet.”
A well-worn phrase that could not be more accurate. When she married him she was not well grounded.
Within days after the wedding the objectionable behavior began. She surrendered her cell phone to his searches daily. He timed her; he knew exactly how long it should take for her to get home from the gym.
He objected to one of her friends; then another. Soon she was shorn from all of her premarital contacts.
Money became an issue. He spent too much. There was a prior bankruptcy that she knew nothing about. Any time that she questioned an expense, or his long hours, she was showered with profanity and verbal abuse. Which soon became physical.
By then they had conceived a child. She kept thinking of all the good days; of the shame of having to admit that a woman as capable as she was had made a terrible mistake when it came to the most vital part of her life. She figured that it was a phase; then she thought that maybe he was immature and needed time.
But things got worse. When she had to clutch her child in her arms and escape through a window, she knew that she had had enough.
Her parents provided shelter. Her finances had been wrecked by his behavior. She had no access to her home or her possessions.
“After so many years of hard work, I had nothing.”
Then she lost her job. Corporations downsize all the time, but one wonders if some supervisor somewhere found out about her personal life. Why not get rid of the employee who is likeliest to fall apart on you?
She was slowly getting back on her feet. Her child had done well in counseling. She still needed to convince the state to agree that the father should not have unsupervised access. She had a new job.
She was saving enough money to be able to live on her own.
She lives under a perpetual cloud, though. She can never feel safe. Probably never will. It will be hard for her to ever trust a man. Even if she meets Mr. Right; there will be a lot of baggage that cannot be easily disposed of. All of us have disagreements with the people we love. Sometimes we are not nice when we express our displeasure. Any harsh word that she ever hears again will put her on the defensive. She has been scarred.
This is a common story. Some people feel that these things only happen in the slums, not in the neighborhoods that are flush with 5,000 square foot homes. They should spend a week with me. I can show them.
How does it get to this point? How is it that an incarnation of evil is capable of roaming around, like a wild beast, to destroy the lives of our daughters?
I wish that I could explain these situations in terms of inadequate education or poor self-esteem. Of course, these are often factors, but I have seen enough strong, capable professional women fall into these traps. These men are masters of seduction and deception. They know which behaviors will cause a woman to run from them. They can control themselves until they have gained trust.
In many of the cases that I have seen, expensive presents have been part of the seduction. Despite everything that we are taught about how money should not matter, we are vulnerable when we accept something of value that is out of proportion to the stage the relationship is at. It is OK to accept the first-class trip airfare after a decade of marriage. Not so much when you have been dating a few months. It reminds me of how things were like when doctors were allowed to accept trips to Hawaii from pharmaceutical firms. I had to hold back fits of hysterical laughter when my colleagues alleged that these trips did not influence their decisions on what to prescribe.
Sure. They are investing thousands of dollars on you, knowing that this money spent will not increase their sales. Of course.
Beware of “a credit in small things.” Larger demands loom.
And never, never allow for you to be swept off your feet.
(I have merged several stories into one for this blog. I know many women that are or were trapped. I do not want any of them to lose their confidentiality).