In The Rearview Mirror


Yesterday after my visit with the nurse (I have a urinary tract infection) I was in the drive-thru at Walgreens when something caught my eye in the rear view mirror.

There was a car behind me. A black man and a white women were in the vehicle. The man was reaching across to the woman, and she was leaning away from him.

The expression on her face said it all. It said: leave me the hell alone.  

It reminded me of some incidents in my own life.

I hate confrontation. More than anything I hate to be around a man who is volatile. And I really hate to be embarrassed in a public place with other people around.

For whatever reason, there seem to be some men that find power and control intoxicating. Like a drug they can’t or won’t give up.

If this has ever happened to you, you know the sinking feeling when it’s about to unfold right there in front of others and you can’t stop it. If you say anything, you know it will enrage him further.

It is a terrible feeling. Some of you may know that feeling. 

But back to the couple behind me. 

I watched them until I had my prescriptions and left. I fervently hoped that it was just a little spat. Or that she would leave the situation if it was a bad one.

I thought about them all the way home. 

It might have been a minor altercation. But sometimes it’s not minor. Sometimes it is heartbreakingly ugly.

I know what people often say: She can always leave.  

But it isn’t always that simple. 

Some men keep money from you. They find ways to make it very hard for you to leave them.

So the parable here I suppose is: Please don’t judge women too harshly if they’re in a bad domestic situation. I promise you that she does not want to be where she is.

But she has to find a way to leave that is safe. How many women have you read about in the news that were killed when they were leaving? 

It happens to be the most dangerous time for a woman in such a situation.

You might have a daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend that ended up in such a situation. It isn’t a rarity by any stretch. Quite the opposite.

Help her if you can, but don’t be too pushy or judgmental. She’s already frightened enough. 

That person you may care about has to be the one to actually make the decision to leave. 

Just be there for her when she does.


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  1. What I wanted to convey is that I admire the woman for having a look that said leave me the hell alone. I didn't have the guts to give my ex that kind of look. I might not have gotten that point across.

  2. If the woman in the car had an expression on her face that said leave me the hell alone, then things might not have been all the way bad. When I was in an abusive marriage, I always tried to look so chipper. But I have some photos from that time in which I look very, very sad. Also, my now-husband was in an abusive first marriage. We both experienced verbal and emotional abuse in those first marriages, and his ex-wife also tried to hit him. He was bigger so he could deflect the blows. But his big fear was he'd accidentally bump her while protecting himself, and she would claim he had physically abused her and then she'd call the cops. Our spouses were substance abusers. That caused a lot of the problems, but not all. We all came from families where there had been emotional and verbal abuse, and our ex-spouses had physical abuse in their families. Maybe that physical abuse is what made them nastier than we were. We were the wimps in the relationships. Thank God we got out. Now we are wimps together.

  3. Good advice, Brenda. I would have wanted to call the cops. I just finished the BEST BOOK!! I had followed this woman's blog years ago, and recently found the book that she wrote about moving from a career in writing romance novels to living on a working farm and building her blog. Sadly, she was in a bad relationship that caused much pain, and was forced to leave the farm she loved and start all over again, WITHOUT THE GUY! If interested, check out CHICKENS IN THE ROAD by Suzanne McMinn

  4. It's certainly hard not to worry or imagine something sinister might be going on when you see people like this. Hopefully it was just a misunderstanding between them or perhaps she was sick. Hope you're feeling better, I know how painful UTI's can be. Take care.

  5. A good reminder not to judge when you've not been in a certain situation. I just hope that woman wasn't being kidnapped or something awful like that. Sigh! So many people that need help out of bad situations. Your advise is good, Brenda. Thanks for bringing up the issue of women in bad relationships and the difficulties and dangers of getting out of them.

  6. Let's just hope that they were coming back from lunch and he had garlic breath 🙂

    Having said that my DIL was in an abusive relationship that she kept quiet until she finally found the strength to leave and later on married my son.

    ( the father has nothing to do with the kids now, no support / nada but her and my son are fine with that. They all call my son 'dad' now and being free from someone COMPLETELY is often better than being tied to them via going after child support. That depends on the situation but in their case, it works. )

  7. A sad situation that is far too common. I've been there and I'm sure many others have as well. Thank you for your post. We all need to be understanding, aware and available for our loved ones.

    I hope you feel better Brenda.

  8. Sorry that you have a UTI Brenda, I dread getting one, I think I know the signs now and am off to the doctor at the first sign of one.

    I do sympathize with anyone in a abusive relationship. I can only imagine how awful and soul destroying it must be.

  9. In my case its my father who is getting verbally abusive as he ages (he's 87). I can't leave because I have no job and there aren't any here in this tiny town. And I won't leave my mother as she needs my help around the house. He gets verbally abusive to her as well. We've decided to just not question or disagree on anything he does or says as that sets him off. But it certainly stifles a person's freedom. I hope I can hold out for his remaining years. Thankfully my room is in the garage so I have some privacy.

  10. I use D-Mannose, an over the counter supplement, mixed in water (no taste) and it stops my UTI in its tracks. It's not expensive and no doctor visit and no antibiotics to mess me up.

    1. I've never heard of that! I'll sure check it out. I hadn't had a UTI for years. I really waited too long before getting treatment.

  11. Yes, don't judge others when you do not walk in their shoes. Many people including family members thought it was my fault when my ex and I split up. If only they knew that under that charming exterior was a very damaged individual. That is all I will say about him, the real truth is too terrible to discuss.

  12. I am passionate about helping women in these situations and involved in a local organization that helps shelter and support battered/abused women and children. I feel incredible blessed to have not ever encountered anything remotely close to abuse and my heart goes out to those that have and feel like there is no way out.

  13. Sorry to hear that you have a UTI. I haven't had one in many years, but I remember how painful they are. Thanks for your words on domestic abuse. I'm not in that situation myself, but I know a couple of women who are. They won't leave their husbands, for a variety of reasons. I have to admit that I'm judgmental in that case, and I can advise them to leave, but they're not going to listen to me. All I can do is listen and support when they tell me certain things. It's hard to watch though.

  14. Only those who have endured a bad situation can truly understand. It is dangerous, frightening, and embarrassing. You don't want to be perceived as "white trash" so you try to hide it. My ex was complimentary and helpful to other women. When I left I was ridiculed by some for being crazy to leave "such a nice guy". After abuse charges were filed by the next wife for injuries received, I got a few apologies from former friends. Too little too late. Trust damaged seldom recovers.
    I am glad you got a diagnosis and I hope you are better soon. Hug those pups.

  15. Wise words, Brenda – I am lucky in that I have not been in that kind of a situation. My husband and I argue, that's for sure, but it's on an even playing field and not in public, or to belittle the other. So true that we cannot judge another's situation.. and often their self esteem is so low they don't believe they deserve better.

  16. Domestic violence situations are scary for people witnessing them. I can't imagine the pain of living in that nightmare. A friend that I was as close as a sister to survived two such relationships. The last one severely damaged our friendship and it never really recovered. Thankfully she did eventually get out of it and go on to meet a wonderful man to marry. They celebrated their 16th anniversary yesterday.

    I know the awful pain of an UTI and hope you feel some relief very soon. Thank goodness for modern medicine.

  17. Thank you for your compassionate writing. My husband's coworker, who was just 33, was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide in a car with their two young girls as witnesses. As the story unfolded, friends and family revealed she was in the process of leaving him. As if that wasn't heartbreaking enough, her own parents were with her shortly before her murder and offered to stay with her when they all arrived home and her estranged husband was waiting for her. But she insisted she was fine and urged them to return home. Ugh. She was beautiful, smart and talented. A lawyer and a classical pianist.

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