I began reading Stephen King’s “Rose Madder” last night. Though the book is fictional, it is much like all the stories of domestic abuse that we read about.

Some think of it as a form of crazy love.

From The First Pages:

She might be sitting here in the corner having a miscarriage if he had come home and found her watching the news on TV or sewing a button on one of his shirts or just napping on the couch. It has been a bad time for him, a woman named Wendy Yarrow has been making trouble for him, and what Norman does with trouble is share the wealth.

Did You Know:

Abuse often gets worse during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (also called ACOG) says that 1 in 6 abused women is first abused during pregnancy.

More than 320,000 women are abused by their partners during pregnancy each year. 

After the miscarriage, Rose McClendon Daniels slept within her husband’s madness for 9 more years.

Financial Abuse:

This is how men often convince women that they have nowhere to go.

She doesn’t have any money of her own. He will convince her that the money he makes is his and his alone. And she’s not to touch it. Which is another form of abuse.

Rose looked in the place where he kept his ATM card, and amazingly, he’d left for work without it. She dared to reach up and touch it, to finally work up the nerve to take it and put it in her purse.

While less commonly understood than other forms of abuse, financial abuse is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a victim trapped in an abusive relationship.

In the end, the goal is always the same—to gain power and control in a relationship. To scare her into staying because he convinces her she cannot take care of herself.

They Call It Crazy Love:

All told, Rose stayed with her policeman husband for a total of 14 years.

But it was one thing, one fairly inconsequential thing, that pushed her out the door one morning with nothing but her purse and the clothes she wore on her back.

The day that Rose left, one small drop of blood angered her more than all the blood he had punched out of her over the years.

“Fourteen years,” she murmured, and now it wasn’t the last fourteen years she was thinking about but the next. Because that other voice, the deep voice, was right. He might not kill her. He might not. And what would she be like after fourteen more years of having him talk to her up close?

She’d been with Norman since she was 18. She knew nothing about the world outside their door beyond what she saw on TV or what he wanted her to know.

He Was The Police:

She saw his fist rushing out of the dark. Icy strokes of moonlight gleamed on the raised letters of his Police Academy ring.

She could never have called the police because her husband was the police.

How Norman’s Words Led To Violence:

Norman would begin his acts of violence like this: “Rose, come over here, sweetheart. I want to talk to you up close.”

Some people think that abused women are weak. Why don’t they just leave?

It seems incomprehensible that a woman will stay in a house with a man where the only love they understand means being hurt.

But what you must understand is this: Abused women (or alternately, it could also be men) live in an invisible cage that keeps them there.

Much like an abused and terrified animal that has been caged, even when the door of the cage is open, the animal fears stepping outside of it.

If she stays, he may eventually kill her. But if she leaves, she goes out into a world for which she has no skills, no money, and no idea how to survive.

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38 Comments

  1. You’ve certainly piqued my interest about the book, and at the same time, shined a spotlight on the reasons why it is so difficult for women in abusive relationships to leave them. Have you seen Maid, on Netflix? It was an excellent series on this subject.

  2. Why can’t people just pass on by if they don’t like a comment or a blog, a post, etc?? We ALL have differing opinions and that’s just fine. We can agree to disagree and still love spending time together. I’m so tired of everything being an explosion of anger! Brenda, keep it as you wish. I come here to relax and hear your stories and updates. Thanks for the hard work on your part!

  3. ‘Rose Madder’ is such a STRONG book! To all of us who have lived through such an experience ~ bless our strength!

    1. Things I should have added:
      First ~ I couldn’t even call it “crazy love” ~ because ‘love’ has NOTHING to do with this kind of behaviour! Selfish, egotistical, paranoid, megalomaniac ~ yes! But NOTHING to do with love!!!
      Second ~ Susan, your comment was rude, insensitive, and completely out of line! You owe Brenda a massive apology ~ how DARE you presume to tell her what to write about?! Crawl back under your slimy rock ~

  4. 14 years of abuse? I’d be scared to even read the book. My brain holds on to things for long periods of time. I remember a TV movie with Farrah Fawcett. Frightened the hell out of me. It was actually taken from a real life story of a woman.. Probably the sadest and most cruel story re a marriage I learned at that time. She was totally controlled by the male. The children were living in a crazed household. Crying daily. Every time he slapped or severely beat up & bruised his wife, was so very horrifying 😢 for me to see. Only on TV yes ,,,,,, but, some how, the message was received in my mind.
    I’d never live through something like this story. So, I was really, really careful about selecting boyfriends, relationships, even friendships.
    Thankfully, I was never taken advantage of re control or any abuse. If I felt threatened, I never would see that individual again. It did happen a few times. Rather long stories. At least I knew what I expected in my life. A person must be committed and totally aware of odd & strange behaviors another person might act on.
    It’s tricky, but the evils can be weeded out.
    Watch how they treat others. Their families & friends. Also, past girlfriends, etc.
    Although I’ve certainly seen it with young people today, it’s terribly sad. You try and help maybe in a conversation or two that goes no where. Very frustrating.
    These young 20+ year olds do not realize what is actually happening to them. If you try and explain, they do not want to listen. Obviously, will surely find out for themselves one day. Hopefully, sooner than later.

    1. The book/story begins after the abuse. It’s about her life going forward. Yes, I recall the Farrah Fawcett TV movie. Lucky/smart for you that you were really watching out for the signs!

    2. The two women that I knew who were killed by their husbands were killed as they were leaving them. It is so easy to say that we don’t understand why they don’t leave. A lot of times the women are so beat down mentally or/and physically that they can’t leave. Sometimes guy/girl will threaten to hurt their kids or in-laws. There are so many reasons. Please do not put the blame on the women/men who stay. We don’t know their stories.

      1. My husband had a coworker who was getting ready to leave her abusive husband (no one had a clue anything was wrong); they were both lawyers, she was clearly capable of taking care of herself financially…but still, it was too late for her: he came by one day to “talk” just as her parents left her house to go back home, and he shot her in the head in front of their two young girls. Thank God he didn’t hurt the girls. He put them inside the house, got back in the car with his wife, drove to a nearby park and shot himself.

        I think about her and her girls often.

  5. Nothing at all about Ukraine – what are you thinking, or maybe not thinking? A little empathy/sympathy would have been great – nothing but decor and books???

    1. I’ve learned that when I write about current events, someone manages to inject politics into the conversation, and then it can get ugly fast. So I’ve learned to try and stay neutral after those experiences.

      1. Agree and this is not a political blog. It’s a book about decor and books. Susan, what are YOU thinking or not thinking?

    2. Susan, this is Brenda’s blog and she is free to write about whatever she wants. There’s probably very good reasons she doesn’t talk about Ukraine… or politics, or abortion, or how many people have died from Covid, or the vaccine controversy, or the BLM movement….any other hot topic right now. If you want to hear about Ukraine, read blogs where they talk about it. Or write about it yourself. Your comment was rude.

    3. Susan, I don’t understand why you felt it was necessary to leave that comment. I honestly don’t! Big Sigh!

    4. Wow, Susan, that’s really rude! This is Brenda’s blog. She can write about whatever SHE wants to. If you don’t approve, just don’t read her blog today… or ever. If you want to hear about Ukraine, watch the news. Talk about it with your friends and family. Start your own blog, or read someone else’s whose discussing things you want to discuss, but don’t leave rude comments on Brenda’s blog. That was uncalled for. She works hard to make this a happy, safe place, where we can all get together as friends and share ideas, thoughts and interests with one another. Please don’t spoil it. Find someplace that makes you happy. There’s a happy place for everyone on the internet. We all sympathize with the people of Ukraine. What’s happening there is terrible for them, but Brenda’s blog is not the place for you to insert your negative opinions and attack her.

      1. I also would like to point out that today’s topic was about women who are abused! That’s a very important topic to talk about! She doesn’t just talk about “decor and books!” She talks about many important and interesting things!!! Susan, if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!

  6. There’s another very good book about an abusive policeman husband,”Black & Blue” by Anna Quindlen.
    I read it along time ago and it stayed with me.
    Policemen are notoriously difficult to live with,very high divorce rate and a lot of drinking problems.

  7. I love reading Stephen King. He is known as a scary writer but reading his books, I noticed that the real hero of a story is often the little guy, the outsider, etc. And he has written more than one story where the wife is not well treated. I think he wants to point out what you said about the abusers. His short stories are the best of all.

  8. Brenda, it is heartbreaking to know that so many women suffer in silence. My cousin married a charming very wealthy man, he never touched her while they were dating but once the honeymoon was over her life became a living hell. She could not leave the house, answer the phone, talk to her parents unless he was in the same room, this continued for two years until he almost killed her and one day just like Rose she had enough and she escaped. You are incredibly kind and compassionate and your blog helps so many women. Thankful that you were able to get away from your husband and are here to help.

    1. That’s often how it goes. The men wait till the honeymoon is over, or they start the abuse during the honeymoon. It’s just tragic.

  9. I can’t even imagine living like that! My heart goes out to any woman living in that situation. I hope they can find the strength and courage to leave and find a better life for themselves.

  10. Brenda, I appreciate you giving such an in depth look at this book. I know you have helped several women who have been in such situations and I thank you for it. Your blog has touched many women.

  11. When I was in high school I sixty years ago, the typing teacher told us to have by three ways to make a living. During those years I have always had a job and very little trouble finding another. Typing has certainly changed and is easier. I taught myself how to use a nine key calculator when I did data entry. It was fun. I listened to music from headphones. The job seemed like dream work. The hours passed so quickly. My father never required much from me. He did insist that I earn some type of degree. I taught high school homemaking, general science, girl’s gym, kindergarten, first grade, sixth grade, special education and reading. Each job was fun. I can take care of myself and a couple of others. Some of those abusive relationships are difficult to identify when you are in one.

    1. ❤ Love your story Diane.
      Sounds a lot like the high school experiences I had also.
      Was always able to get a job,, be employed with my office skills. Throughout the years I became better & better with technology.
      You learn and grow.
      I wish young women would be more aware of the pitfalls in relationships today.

  12. Sadly, so very true. Even lesser forms of abuse that are not physical are hard to take…and even old age diminishes them only a little. So I have found.

    1. There are all kinds of abuse. What I really hate is when it’s a policeman like in the book. Then the woman feels like she literally has nowhere to go.

      1. Yes.
        Well, I knew of many females in steady relationships with police officers, etc. Wasn’t good. I never dated a cop.
        There were many reasons for my choice.
        Glad I stuck to my senses.

  13. This book does reflect what a lot of abused women go through each day. They are trapped and broken. I love when these women can finally find that spot of courage to run and be free of the abuse. You hope for that with all women in her situation. It has to be so hard when they are isolated and have no one but the abuser.

      1. Family should of got involved, I did!
        Sadly, I wasn’t able to save my best friend, but I have been able to save other friends and my daughter!
        I had a cousin that was married to a mean cop and with the strength of her family she divorced him and had a happy life after with her 2 kids!
        How is that woman that you helped get away from her abuse of husband Brenda?

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