Anybody who has ever been through a divorce can tell you. You can't know everything about a person. In first place people change over time. I'm certainly not the same person I was 3 or 4 years ago. Secondly, people don't give you everything about themselves. Everybody has some flaw or imperfection that they don't maybe try to hide as such. But maybe they try to keep it tamped down for the sake of the relationship.
And all of us has baggage. All of us has behaved like an ass at one point or another. All of us have done something that we would just as soon nobody ever finds out about. Maybe we fudged a bit on our taxes. Maybe we slipped around on the spouse once while we were out of town. Maybe there's a certain inconvenient someone in our past that we would just rather move to Finland or some place equally remote before the significant others in our lives connects the dots. You have your past and I have mine. Fine. It's not like we killed anybody. And still, sometimes you learn something about someone you thought you knew pretty well that just about puts you to your knees.
There's a guy I know, a fairly prominent guy. Known him for sometime. Can't say we are friends but we are friendly enough acquaintances that we might cross the room at a party to shake hands. Never thought anything bad about him one way or the other. Had no reason to.
Last week, I found out that his wife told the judge that he beat her up.
I mean I knew that she had filed on him late last year but I thought nothing of it. It happens. Perfectly nice people decide everyday the courthouse is open that for whatever reason they just can't live with each other. And, as the old saying goes, you never really know somebody until you live with them or work for them. But this. Nothing prepared me for this news.
Do I believe her? Of course I do. Everybody bitches about their spouse to their friends. Everybody tends to lay it on thick when they are making a case. You have to take it with a grain of salt. He drinks too much. She is a bitch. He plays too much golf. She has let herself go. He isn't attentive to my needs. Look it wouldn't kill her to prepare a meal once in awhile. It's not like she works. He doesn't listen. All women are crazy.
So you didn't marry the perfect human being? How awful for you. Stop the presses.
The truth about such matters frequently resides in the gray and is a function of impression and nuance. But, as someone once said, you are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.
"He broke my ribs" ain't exactly a function of impression and nuance. "He slapped me so hard in the car that I was dizzy for 2 days" isn't a matter of opinion. It either happened or it did not happen. And unless she happens to be wielding an axe at the time, there is absolutely no justification for hitting a woman. None. Period.
I have often said that all narcissists are not batterers. I'm the living proof. Beat you to it. But all batterers are narcissists. It is one thing to be furious over something that your lover has said or done. But it takes a special sense of entitlement to reduce a person to an object through acts of violence.
And it is always the same with these guys. I have heard it all. He said he wouldn't have to hit me if I would ever shut up. He said he hit me because I went out with my girlfriends in that short skirt. He hit me after he got laid off at the plant.
One thing the narcissist does not possess is insight. Why should he? He is not the one with the problem. Everybody else has the goddamn problem. It's everybody else's goddamn fault.
Here's another thing about batterers: they are charming bastards. I may like redheads. You may like men who remind you of your Daddy. We all have different triggers that need to get tripped before we get interested in someone. Batterers are attracted to women they think they can get over on. That's what trips their triggers. And I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard a woman say, " He wasn't like this when we first started dating."
So, what do I think now that I know this dirty little secret? I think 2 things. One, this just proves that domestic violence is not confined to a certain strata. It is the nation's dirty little secret as well. Secondly, I recall something New York Times sportswriter Robert Lipsyte wrote during the O.J. Simpson trial. It went something like this.
" I don't know whether O. J. is guilty of murder or not. When I grew up I was taught that only sissies hit girls. This much I know. O.J. Simpson is a sissy because he hit a girl."
There's a guy I know. He used to hit a girl.
Guess what I think of him now?