When I started doing my research for ONE Short Story I assumed that Domestic Violence was not at all prevalent in the Fifties and Sixties when I was growing up. I also assumed that the authorities had made provision to help victims of 'Domestic Violence'. I guess like many, or even most, men I thought that there were relatively few cases occurring each year. It also came as a shock that the very first Battered or Abused Woman Refuge IN THE WORLD only opened its doors in 1971. This story is a fictional attempt by a concerned man to help publicise this condition.
The Sanctuary ~ A Short Story from the Pen of Ralpapajan
The third part of a short series of Short Stories that deal with Man on Woman abuse that led up to the first Abused Woman's Shelter in 1971.
These are the three other stories that make up this series.
They should be read in this order.
The Abused ~ A Short Story from the Pen of Ralpapajan
This is the first in a series of four and should be read first.
The Revelation ~ A Short Story from the Pen of Ralpapajan
This is the second in a series of four
The Abusers ~ A Short Story from the Pen of Ralpapajan
This is the last in a series of four
All it needed in 1968 or even before was one empathetic and wealthy man to set up a Sanctuary. This is a fictional account of 'What might have been!'
She had dutifully made out another list and this I took from her and left quite quickly.
I must Miles to explain what it must be like to be in her situation. Where there any organisations to help her? What would she be feeling now that she knew I was just a man. Frightened that she was being held there for some foul purpose? In her place I would be. She needed a woman to help her and I knew the very one. My old Nanny. She had brought me into the world and was more of a mother to me than my own mother ever was. She was the one person who knew me better than anyone else. She lived on the estate in a cottage and I was toying with the idea that she should move there. But first things first, I thought, let's us Hasten Slowly, the family motto.
I automatically made for Oxford Street to buy the clothes but on the way I thought quite deeply about it. What in earth should I get her? What styles? And how do I explain why I am buying this lot? Did it matter? Well yes, it did, for I had no idea what the modern young woman wore.
I was walking rather aimlessly when a sign caught my eye. Carnaby Street! The girls I slept with at the Club raved about it. They were always going on about some person called Mary Quant. And she had a shop in Carnaby Street!
I soon found it and went in. I was taken aback by the display but pressed on and soon saw a woman who seemed to be in charge. "Are you Miss Quant," I asked.
She was surprised. "Of course not, I am the manager here." Mmm, she must be bigger than I thought. "Can I help you?"
"I hope so. My baby sister just arrived back from abroad with her two infants. Her baggage went astray and I need to get some clothes quickly." I shoved the list at her. "Can you get all this?"
She scanned it, there are a lot of things here that we don't stock," she protested.
"So what, you're a woman, you know what to get. I don't." I took my cheque-book out and wrote quickly. "Here fill the name in and tell me when that is finished. Oh and deduct £100 for yourself."
She started to give me the cheque back when she saw the name. "Certainly, Sir," she said.
"Not Sir," I told her. "My name's Robin. Just Robin. Can I come back later on? Say about 4 p.m?"
Back in Oxford Street I summonsed a taxi and was soon with Miles. He was, he said, having a quiet day. "Yes, old boy, of course, I will help."
I phoned the flat and a tentative voice answered. "It's Robin. the clothes and doodads on the list will take time to gather. I will be back with the doctor and bring them at around 7." Mary Quant's was the next call. "Send the clothes and other stuff to Harley Street," I told her, and gave her Miles' address. Then I phoned home and arranged for the Bentley to meet me at St Albans.
An hour or so later I was at Gwynne's cottage. She was a lovely little Welsh lady and although she was in her seventies was robust. As ever she was delighted to see me. She frowned at me as she saw the extra lines around my eyes and "Tut tutted," disapprovingly. She started to lecture me but I put my hand up. "Shush, woman, I've heard it all before. Besides you have a mission to perform in London so pack your bags for at least a week and I will pick you up and about 5." I left her open mouthed and staring at me.
The Staff, all twelve of them, had been told of my imminent arrival and were there to greet me, standing in their well established pecking order outside the imposing front door.
Jenkins, the butler, also Welsh and also ancient beamed his delight and after I greeted the staff led me through to the Library. "And how long will Sir be staying this time," he enquired.
"For good," I responded and such was the shock that he went white and had to sit down. It was several minutes and tot of brandy later that he was able to finally speak.
What made you decide this?" he asked. So I told him the whole story. Why I had left in the first place and what I was going to do.
"You mean, Sir, that the House will be full of life again?"
"I do, indeed, and you will have to sort it all out."
He looked shocked. "At my age, Sir?" he asked.
I glared at him. "Of course at your age. You have years left in you. I need you Jenkins. And the abused women need you. Don't worry, you will have all the help you need. These women hate men and with good reason. You are the perfect Grandfather for them. And you, dear friend, will be the only man allowed in here."
"But what about you, Sir? Where will you live?"
"In Gwynne's cottage." He raised his eyebrows. "Do not worry, I know you two have been lovers since before I was born. She can move in here and the pair of you can make it legal."
He looked at his pompous best. "We have been married since before you were born, Sir. Your father didn't approve so we never told him. Sir, may I go and tell her now?"
"No! I am taking her to London with me to sort this young kid out, whilst I am gone move her stuff here and select the most suitable room for the pair of you."
There were tears in his eyes and I wondered at the strange relationships that made someone be so unforgiving as my father had been. I walked over to him and gave him a hug and his face crumpled and he fled.
The rest of the day passed quickly and by 5 p.m. when the car came to the front door to pick me up with Gwynne ensconced in the back seat and Eric, the chauffeur's son in the front with him, all my plans had been set in motion.
Miles was ready to go and ran out of his chambers as soon as we drew up. He was carrying several parcels and his bag and tossed them all to Eric's young son. He knew Gwynne and gave her a hug as we drove off.
"You know what this young twit has decided to do with his money," he asked her and she bristled. "If Master Robin decides to do anything then it is worth doing," she said with a glare at the doctor, "and he is older than you!"
We were in Earls Court just before seven o'clock and I knocked at the door. Sparrow was obviously waiting and had the door opened almost immediately. She screamed when I ushered the two men in first, Miles in his suit and coat probably looked sinister to her and Charlie, laden with parcels, was also quite intimidating for he was Rugby lock forward with the local club. Then she saw me and tried to relax. It was Gwynne who saved the day. She gathered the trembling girl into her arms and told both Charlie and I to leave.
"Come back in a hour," she said. "You great fools, you scared the wits out of her,"
"Well," Miles said on the drive back to Harley Street, "she'll be all right, just surface injuries. There will be scars though. It is the mental scars I am worried about. You get the bastard who did this and I will help prosecute him."
I had other ideas but didn't enlighten him. "Can you arrange therapy?" I asked.
"Money no object?"
"She'll have to wait a week or two but yes there should be no problem. I'll arrange for you to see my man early next week, one evening. You can take us both out to dinner."
'My man' turned out to be a woman. When I arrived at the restaurant the following week and saw him with a well dressed attractive woman I thought I had made a mistake with the timing but he stood and greeted me effusively and called the waiter over. "This is Madeleine," he told me as he introduced us. "One day soon, I will be proposing to her."
Her laugh tinkled out and caused other diners to look at us and smile. "You have been using that line for years and I am still waiting." She laughed again and added. "Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?"
He looked sheepish and mumbled under his breath something about proposing this very night.
I brought them both back down to earth. After all I was paying the bill. "What about the therapist?" I asked, somewhat tersely.
"Well, I did have a good man in mind but Maddy persuaded me that you should think about having a woman on board, so to speak."
"And so far you haven't found one?"
"Well, yes, in a manner of speaking. Maddy is one of the best in Harley Street. And I thought that, as you'll need one on the Board of this Sanctuary you're setting up she would be ideal in that position with me the Medical man." He went pink and added, "Keep it in the family."
Madeleine was watching him with eyes that showed how she felt about him. That gaze wrenched at my heart, for I once had someone who looked at me that way. I made a dreadful mistake and threw it all away.
She turned to me. "Miles has told me that right now the builders and architects are in at the Manor House converting it into a Sanctuary for Abused women and their children. It is a big decision. What made you do it? Miles used to bemoan the fact that you had gone to the dogs. Screwed around with any old slag and generally drank yourself to sleep when you were in your own bed. She laid her hand on mine and squeezed it. "This seems out of character. I only came when Miles said you had changed. Why? What made you change? Overnight, Miles said."
I didn't answer for a long moment. I was thinking of that small, defiant, angry yet terrified girl who had thought I was an angel. "You know," I said, "I met an angel in a park. She was unexpected but she changed my life with just one look."
"An angel?" both said in unison.
"Yes. Little Sparrow, the girl you saw, Miles; the girl you are going to see, Madeleine. Sure, she is battered, bruised and broken but as she looked at me I could see that inside, despite all that had happened to her in her short life, she was too pure to be a real human. Yes, an angel."
The two doctors were less romantic than but allowed me this fantasy. They became practical, something I had never been able to achieve.
"You will need a lawyer, a good one, I know just the man," Madeleine said.
"No need. I know just the woman," I told her. "And it's time to right the wrong I did ten years ago. She will be on the Board if she forgives me."
"Becky?" Miles looked astounded.
"Yes. She took silk and is well established now but if I know her and she hasn't changed then she will do this."
Madeleine was watching our faces with interest and asked "Becky? Who is Becky?"
Miles squeezed her hand and said to her, "Not now, I'll tell you later after I have proposed to you and you have said yes and we have sealed the bargain with a kiss."
Madeleine covered her confusion by saying, "I need a ring, damnit, you won't get away with that one by being romantic!"
He took his hand from his jacket pocket and showed her a box. "I have had it for two years now. Never was a brave man."
Two sites that give the Real History of the establishment of a Sanctuary in Great Britain and one in the United States of America
The first one in the World opened its doors only in 1971 in the United Kingdom.
Refuge ~ For women and children
Refuge opened the world’s first women’s refuge in 1971 in Chiswick, London. It was a time when no-one talked about domestic violence, when what went on behind closed doors in every street was considered private, no-one’s business. Women and children flocked to that safe house in West London. For the first time, someone was saying it was wrong to beat your partner. What had gone on for centuries behind closed doors was at last being challenged. Refuge has led the campaign to end domestic violence ever since.
Battered Women's Shelter
First of all we wish to say that MOST MEN ARE NOT ABUSIVE. The Battered Women's Shelter does not take a stance against all men, nor do we believe that only men batter. However the statistics do support the fact that in most domestic abuse scenarios, the abuser is a man and the victim is a woman. Therefore as we provide some information about the abuse, we will be using "he" as the offender. Your spouse may be a good father, he may financially support you and your children, he may hold a good job and be respected in your community, he may even attend church each Sunday. Those are the same characteristics shared with men who are domestic violence abusers. It is hard to tell from the outside of a house, what is actually going on when the doors and shades are closed.