A while ago I treated a woman with rhabdomyolysis. You see, her husband beat her so severely that she had enough muscle injured that she ran the risk of kidney damage due to breakdown products. I spent some time chatting to her. I couldn’t understand that this beautiful, intelligent woman could find herself in this sort of situation, especially seeing that the bastard had assaulted her twice before. But actually this post isn’t about her. She had finally realised there is no chance that this sort of person is going to change and that she needs to leave him before he kills her. No, this post is about someone else.
It was when I was rotating through the military hospital. She came in as a gunshot wound patient. Actually she was quite lucky (as lucky as one can be called when one ends up with a surgeon I suppose). Her wound was to the chest and a simple intercostal drain was all she needed. A bit of recovery time and she’d be fit to go. Then the story came out.
You see she was in an abusive relationship and was no stranger to the hospital’s trauma unit. But each time she went back for more. This time, however, her partner came home with a gun. There was an alcohol-fueled argument during which the gun was produced and he threatened to kill her. She grabbed their infant child and ran. However, like most of our patients, she couldn’t outrun a speeding bullet. The bullet went straight through her chest and into the infant’s arm, shattering his humerus.
To say I was shocked is somewhat of an understatement. I mean I can accept that if someone has such self destructive behaviour that they continue to put themselves in harm’s way in the end it is their choice. But the infant has no choice. I needed to say something.
I asked her if she had made a case with the police. Apparently she hadn’t. I wanted to know why. Well according to her the man involved was actually a good man. He had visited her in the hospital and confessed his undying love to her. All was forgiven. She was going to go back to him with her child.
Now please understand me. I know that I can’t judge someone until I’ve walked a mile in her shoes and other such cute sayings. But I wasn’t thinking about her. I was thinking about the child whose security had already allowed him to take a bullet to the arm and was gearing up to subject him to more of the same. That little bit of tact that I do have left me.
“You know there is a good chance he kills you or your child next time. Actually I’m not concerned for you. If you want to put your life in danger, you’re a big girl and that is your choice. But that baby of yours has no say in the matter. The one person who is supposed to protect him it seems is willing to put his life on the line because some psychopath says he loves you. Let me tell you, people don’t shoot people they love.”
I said a few other things but the gist was the same. not one word penetrated. She was determined. Apparently prince charming had pulled the wool (or executioner’s hood??) over her eyes and she was going back. I felt despair for the baby.
*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*