BEATING HEARTS: Stories of Domestic Violence


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My mother never told me how it happened - her fall from grace. In high school she was a beauty queen - beautiful, popular, fun. We would look at her scrapbooks together and for a few minutes her eyes would shine, making her look more like the girl in the pictures. Once, I asked her why she didn't have fun like that anymore. She stopped smiling and went back to the ironing.

I was in high school when I learned the real story - how she had shocked everyone by coming up pregnant in her senior year.

I was in college when I learned that my dad wasn't the father. He'd married my mom later, to "make an honest woman of her."

I was working at a shelter when I learned how she'd paid for her respectability. How he'd beat her up on their wedding night. How he'd knocked her down the stairs when she was 8 months pregnant with me.

Somehow she forgave him, and they reunited. But somewhere between the fall from grace and the fall down the stairs, the light left my mother's eyes.

Twenty-six years later, after an argument with my father, my mother shot herself in the head.

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