Gordon Smith and I had been filming a commercial in LA.
We were drinking in bar around 2am.
Suddenly we hear a noise like a slap, and the bar goes quiet.
We turn around, and everyone is looking at a couple at the bar.
There’s an attractive girl sitting there with a man standing next to her. He’s leaning on the bar, casually drinking.
She is wearing a forced grin, and a bright red hand mark down one side of her face.
I said “I think that bloke’s just hit that woman”.
Gordon said “Yeah, what do you want to do?”
I said “If she gets up to leave, and he stops her, we can get involved. Otherwise, if she chooses to stay, I can’t see it’s any of our business.”
I thought it might be what the police call “a domestic”.
A couple have a fight, she calls the police.
By the time the police get there, they’ve made up.
Now the cop becomes the bad guy for interfering, and they unite against him.
We didn’t know if this was one of those.
After all, the woman was making no attempt to leave.
Why else would a woman stay with a man like that?
Recently I saw a talk by a best-selling author
She said she’d been in an abusive relationship for many years.
She said she was going to answer the question everyone asks.
“Why does a woman stay in an abusive relationship?”
And what she said next amazed me.
She said, in her case, she didn’t know she was being abused.
Oh, she knew she was on the receiving end of violence.
But she saw that as her husband’s inner demons manifesting themselves.
Because she loved him, because she was a Harvard graduate, she was the one person who could help him.
When he cracked her head against the car window, when he slammed her against the stove, when he shoved her face into the kitchen floor.
This was his torment, it was up to her to help him conquer it..
It never occurred to her she was a battered wife.
Until he held a loaded gun to her head and cocked the trigger.
And she woke up to reality.
She realised she wasn’t in control of the situation at all.
How this ended was with her dead.
And she finally left him.
Because she was finally able to see the situation from the outside.
Rather than experiencing it solely from the inside.
Inside her head he was basically the good person that she loved.
And she could rescue him from his torment.
She saw it totally subjectively.
She couldn’t see the simple, objective truth.
This is violence. It’s out of control. You need to get out of here
The gun woke her up.
It bypassed all the convoluted arguments and the elaborate storyline.
All the intricate, romantic narrative.
She suddenly got a blinding clarity that had been lost amongst all her complicated reasoning.
And she learned something we all need to learn.