[This woman’s name has been changed to protect her safety.]
“I remember being kicked around the floor while he was wearing steel-toed army boots. I remember being locked in the bedroom and beaten for three or four days.”
Laura Jackson’s private hell began in 1967. She was fresh out of high school; her boyfriend had just returned from Vietnam. They left a school dance in his brand-new Camaro, got in an accident, and she became an L-I paraplegic.
At that time in the rural Midwest, Jackson says, “There was no such thing as rehab. They taught me a little about transferring, and they sent me home.” But not before inflicting some serious damage. “The physical therapist and the doctor told me there was no point in continuing my relationship, because I could never be a wife. They said a family and children were not in my future.”
Jackson was frightened. Her boyfriend was guilt-ridden. Six months later, they were married; soon after, Jackson gave birth to their first daughter.
“As soon as I told him I was pregnant, the physical abuse started,” Jackson says, attesting to a common pattern. In addition to physical violence, Jackson endured “almost constant” verbal and emotional abuse.
But, like anyone who is repeatedly battered, Jackson didn’t think of it as abuse, and she blamed herself. “I was always made to feel it was my fault. And that was easy to believe. If I was extremely compliant, he was less likely to hurt me. Therefore, when he did hurt me, it was because I had messed up.”
Five years later, the couple’s second daughter was born with a life-threatening illness. Under the added stress, Jackson’s husband became increasingly violent. Why did she stay?
“I had two small children, one of them drastically ill,” Jackson says calmly. “I could not bear the thought of l