Monday, October 18, 2010

The Ex-Wives Club

As I’ve stated repeatedly, there are MANY other domestic violence and abuse victims here besides my children and me, and NONE of us has been able to obtain even a small fraction of the help we need. I’ve already posted information on some of these before: “Willa” (10/26/09), for example, whose abusive husband actually volunteered at the local women’s shelter. Now I’d like to introduce you to the stories of a few selected others.

First and foremost is the story of my friend Joanie. In “Old Emails From A Friend” (9/17/10), I talked about a play group my children and I belonged to years ago when they were very young. We also belonged to a second, much larger, play group made up of moms and tots from prominent local families. This group consisted of the wives and children of doctors, architects, dentists, professional artists, bankers, and more. It was through this group that I met Joanie and got to know her.

Joanie was a stay-at-home mom with the same number of children as me. Her husband was a pilot who worked for a large real estate company in Houston, so he was gone a lot of the time for work reasons as my husband was. Joanie seemed rather reserved at first, but as I slowly got to know her, I discovered she was intelligent, creative, and sensitive. She was also very attractive—the kind of person who “lit up the room” wherever she went. She had lots of casual friends but few close ones; she always seemed very guarded.

Joanie and her husband were also clearly very wealthy. They owned and lived in what is arguably the most beautiful historic rock home in our area, located in an extremely desirable spot in the center of town. My husband claimed Joanie was from a wealthy family, but I never knew her maiden name or anything about her background. She and her children were always impeccably dressed, and when the rest of us brought taco salads and chicken casseroles to share for lunch, Joanie brought liver pate.

Frankly, Joanie would probably have become one of my best friends here if it hadn’t been for her husband—I couldn’t stand him. He was loud, rude, and coarse, the exact opposite of Joanie. In fact, he frankly gave me the creeps, particularly in light of persistent rumors around town that he was flying loads of drugs in from South America. I was at a total loss as to why someone like Joanie had married him or why she stayed married to him. I was even more confused about why my own husband was a friend of his. When I attempted any discussion with my husband about the frankly abusive way I’d seen Joanie’s husband treat her on several occasions and why he wanted a friend who behaved that way, my husband just laughed and said I needed to get to know him better. I told him I didn’t care to.

When our older children entered school, I lost touch with Joanie. Thinking back now, I realize she must not have been getting out much, because I don’t remember seeing her at the store or around town. At one point, her husband made a failed attempt at running for public office. I was not pleased when my husband campaigned for him, but we discussed this and ended up “agreeing to disagree” on the matter.

Then in the early 1990s, I became pregnant with my youngest child and was pleasantly surprised to hear that Joanie was also expecting another baby. I finally did run into her at the store, and we had fun commiserating about pregnancy and catching up on each others’ news. She seemed happy, healthy, and excited about the new baby, and her older children were doing extremely well in school. All seemed well.

The last time I went to Joanie’s house was when my youngest and I were invited to Joanie’s baby’s first birthday party. Joanie was absolutely radiant that day, holding all the little ones (and us grown-ups too!) in thrall with a puppet show she wrote and performed for the occasion. However, I was sad to note that her husband wasn’t there. Sure enough, when he suddenly came in at the end of the party, Joanie suddenly became tense and silent. It was clear from the way he belittled her that they had serious problems.

At some point after that, I remember my mother-in-law telling me the word going around town was that Joanie was having serious problems with post-partum depression. I told her that didn’t make sense to me because Joanie’s youngest child was older than that. My mother-in-law insisted Joanie had been suffering from this for a long time. Not long after this, I heard Joanie’s marriage had ended. Her husband moved to a ranch outside town, married a woman with ties to both South America and local real estate, and opened a chocolate importing business. Joanie kept the historic home in town she’d always loved so much.

The next news I had of Joanie was very strange and frightening. Her ex-husband had taken their two youngest children hiking on a fairly high rocky peak at a local park. Somehow the older of the two children took a terrible fall off the peak and sustained a very serious head injury. News reports said the father left the younger child, who was quite young at the time, alone at the summit while he went down to the injured child. The victim was rushed to a trauma center in San Antonio and barely survived. This child eventually made a full recovery, but they had no memory of what had happened.

I heard Joanie was furious with her ex- over the accident, which was what I would have expected from her, so I was surprised when my mother-in-law started telling me again how depressed Joanie was. Not long after this, I ran into Joanie briefly, and she seemed more frightened than depressed: eyes constantly darting back and forth, talking in a very guarded manner, and clearly nervous and jumpy. Joanie was definitely not herself, and I frankly didn’t know what to make of it.

The next thing I heard about Joanie was when I opened up the newspaper one morning and read about her death. I could barely contain my shock and horror as I read that her ex-husband and a female friend (the wife of a doctor) found her hanging from the hook that held the light fixture over her dining room table.

Joanie’s death was ruled a suicide. My husband and my old play group friends all told me her ex- was furious because she’d started seeing a new doctor in San Antonio who felt she was being over-medicated and took her off all her antidepressants. He blamed this doctor for causing her death and was threatening to sue him.

I was heartbroken over the death of my friend, but it wasn’t long after this that my own husband suddenly left and our lives were turned upside down as well. Later, I heard Joanie’s oldest child was accusing their father of murdering their mother, which I’d wondered about as well.

At some point, Joanie’s ex-husband must have regained ownership of the historic rock house, because he opened a restaurant in it. I also heard his second marriage ended in divorce. Both of our youngest children graduated from high school together, and I remembered her fondly that night.

I’ve never forgotten Joanie, and recently she’s been much on my mind again. In the last few months as I’ve learned more and more about gang stalking and begun realizing how much of it applies to our situation, I’ve also realized it makes a lot of sense as far as what I remember of Joanie’s. In fact, my former mother-in-law began saying exactly the same kind of stuff about me (or even worse!—see some of my ex-husband’s similar comments that are scattered throughout this blog) to anyone who would listen after my husband left. There’s a definite pattern here: target a victim for organized stalking while at the same time spreading false rumors all over town that the victim is crazy in order to attempt to explain some serious future crime against that person (like murder, driving them to suicide, involuntary commitment long enough to steal assets, etc.).

I’ve also begun seeing this same pattern in terrible things experienced by other acquaintances of mine. For example, the wife of a local doctor was repeatedly described to me by both her husband and mine (both good friends) as “crazy”, even though I never saw any evidence of this. Her husband left her to marry a co-worker around the same time my husband left. She moved to Boerne and eventually remarried, but recently she suddenly turned up dead and I haven’t been able to find out what happened to her.

Another acquaintance of mine has a similar story, but I believe hers has a happier ending. This woman, who is incredibly intelligent and talented, was the creative force behind a well-known local business that her husband and his family managed. I was very upset when my husband came home one night and said this woman had been brought into the local emergency room close to death that morning from a suicide attempt. This woman did survive, but she and her husband eventually divorced, she moved away, and recently I heard she had remarried. Her ex-husband is now extensively developing the property they once owned jointly. Even more significantly, this property is not far from mine.


ML said...

Update: The ex-husband in the second example has been forced out of business and someone else is now developing the property (similar to what happened with Boot Ranch!).

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