Not to People like Us: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages

By Susan Weitzman | Go to book overview

6
Going Public and Getting Going: "I'm Outta Here . . ."

SALLY TOLD ME SHE FELT AS IF WERE TRAPPED and hunted in a "Chippendale prison" during the years she was married to her violent husband. Held hostage by her fear of retribution and loss, she concluded that she could not leave Ray until her children were launched and on their own. Sally was ensnared within the elegant confines of their home and told no one about Ray's worsening attacks. But the silence with which she enshrouded herself only stiffened her sentence. Like many other battered upscale women, she lived in a torture chamber. It was well cushioned and beautifully decorated, but she suffered unimaginable emotional and physical torments there nonetheless.

Bailey also reported feeling trapped within the silence she had created. Because she was determined to keep the private image of her marriage as shiny as the public one--both were under scrutiny--she relegated her moments of agony to a secret dwelling within. Although Bailey would easily have garnered support and credibility in revealing Peter's obnoxious behavior and violent moods to those who knew him, she kept silent, maintaining the facade of their marital partnership.

In the face of Bailey's obligingness, Peter's public tirades against her increased and even became routine. She grew weary of defending him to others and patching the rifts he created. She longed for the day when she would leave him. And yet, within the gates of their beautiful vacation retreats along the eastern seaboard, Bailey's secret strategizing--saving money and making plans to leave--did not result in immediate change. She still hung in, hoping against hope that a business failure might humble Peter a bit. Unfortunately, corporate setbacks merely increased his defensive arrogance and his hostility toward her and the rest of his world. For the patient and gracious Bailey,

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