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The Lost Heiress (Ladies of the Manor)
Roseanna M. White
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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month



Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Untold Stories

Monday, October 13, 2014

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time where we remember victims of domestic violence, celebrate survivors, and connect those who work to end violence with the ones who need their help.

One in four women have been victims of domestic violence and three out of four Americans personally know someone who has. While these statistics speak for themselves, many women can’t or don’t speak out from fear of retribution from their abusers. Sadly, this fear often leads to tragic ends for many women. Wounded to Death, a series of short monologues by journalist Serena Dandini, gives these women back their voices. Dandini transforms factual news stories into the narratives of women who never got to speak out, aiming to raise awareness and help bring an end to gender violence.

Read on for one woman’s haunting story from Wounded to Death.




It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a woman manager to get on a board of directors. But I finally did it. It was pretty tough; battles like that leave you scarred, they harden you, can even make you mean. See this worry line on my forehead, for example? It never used to be there. Well, everything has a price. Plus, there’s Botox if you can afford it; a little touch-up, and you’re almost as good as new.

Like so many women of my generation, I gave up children for a career. I don’t regret my choice. I have wonderful friends. It’s just not true that women have to have kids to feel fulfilled, don’t believe the baby-diaper ads. Plus, there are always men to keep you warm. I actually married one of my work colleagues. It was great working side by side as partners, true equals. Both with a ton of emails to get through every night before going to bed, same iPads, same working hours, same stress, the same iPhone or BlackBerry (yeah, some people actually prefer the BlackBerry! …), same business trips, same high-speed trains, same VIP lounges, same salaries … Well, as long as we earned the same money, everything was fine and dandy. Of course, it took me a while to catch up to him: everyone knows that even with the same qualifications, women are passed by, considered less authoritative. We have to work three times as hard for the same results. Still, in the end I made it.

The problem is that then I started earning even more than him. I didn’t do it on purpose; actually, I felt a little embarrassed about it … I didn’t even tell him right away, can’t explain exactly why; deep down I guess I felt guilty, like outdoing him economically was a slight to his masculinity. I was afraid he’d feel humiliated. Still, I told myself, times have changed. My father never allowed my mother to work, even though she’d gone to college. It was a question of respectability, of decency: he didn’t want people to think he wasn’t man enough to support her. She would’ve loved a job outside the house, but she would never have done anything to displease her husband.

I did. I finally “came out” and told him I’d been promoted, and I did it in style—treated him to a weekend in Paris at a five-star hotel. That’s when the trouble started. Slowly but surely, a subtle poison turned our relationship toxic. He didn’t seem to find me as fun and brilliant as he used to; now any excuse was good for aiming a blow at my self-esteem, which, me being a woman, had never been that great to begin with … First in private, then in public, in front of friends and colleagues, he began to wound me again and again and again. He was constantly belittling me. There was some deep-seated resentment there. The sarcasm was biting, the criticism endless, merciless, no matter what I did.

It was a constant onslaught, no holds barred, until one May night, when we’d just gotten home from a conference on interest rates, he dealt me the final blow: with a heavy cut-glass ashtray thrown straight at my forehead. I was still alive; he could have saved me, but he just stood staring. I lay there struggling to breathe, finally powerless and docile. He’d brought me down to size.

He hadn’t meant to take it that far, but he had no other way to explain his feelings of inadequacy … I’d grown too fast for him; he just couldn’t keep up, couldn’t stand the comparison. He felt inferior. The only thing he had left to regain the upper hand was brute force. In that department, he was still superior to me.

At least he won the final match.