Yesterday I went to get my nails done. As I sat down, I glanced to my left to see a very petite woman getting her nails done next to me. Her little son stood next to her, and a big man hovered behind her.
I didn't pay much attention to either of them until the big man said very loudly to everyone in the salon "Hey, I've got a joke for you!" He then proceeded to tell a joke that only a first grader would find funny.
The staff gave the obligatory snicker, and I said teasingly "Oh, c'mon! My son told me that one years ago!"
Apparently the man took offense at this, but he covered it well, and told a dumb blond joke. "OK, bud," I thought to myself. "I get the point." I looked at him appraisingly and saw a guy who looked like trouble. He was bald, tatooed, and pierced in various places. He was tall and burly and I guessed he could be formidable when he wanted to be.
In return, I told a dumb blond joke of my own, and a joke about aging. We were all friends again.
The next time I looked up, he was gone with the son, although the woman remained next to me. I began to really look at her for the first time, and saw terrific bruising on her upper right arm, where handprints could clearly be seen. On her left leg was a soft cast.
"Hey, what happened to your leg?" I asked, already knowing that answer and sure that she would lie to me.
"Oh, uh, I just tripped," she said hesitantly.
"What a shame," I said lightly, watching her. Her eyes dropped, and I didn't pursue it in front of everyone else. But my mind was racing.
So many women are abused, and many of them are abused willingly. We could discuss the psychology of it at another time, but that's what it boils down to. Still, there are always the victims who are re-enacting a horrid childhood, or are ignorant of their rights, or grow sick of it all and finally leave. For them, there's an organization named CASA.
CASA will help hide women, give them lodgings, and train them so that they can be financially independant and take care of their children on their own. CASA even provides food and clothing while a woman gets back on her feet, and provides counseling and emotional support as well. I've run across CASA at different functions, and I've always admired the organization.
I wondered if this young woman had heard of CASA, and how I could get the information to her without either insulting her or alarming her.
The conversation drifted around me, as I thought furiously. I realized that I only had a little time before The Thug came back, and I had to say something before he did.
A TV news story about a snake was playing in the background, when one of the nail techs shuddered and declared that he could never stand snakes.
"I never could either," I said. "You know, I was once at a charity benefit for CASA. Do you know what CASA is? CASA is a group in St. Pete that helps women who are abused. It takes them in, helps them hide, gives them food and shelter and helps them to resume their lives."
The little woman next to me visibly started, and glanced sharply at me.
"It's a great organization," I continued. "And they're conveniently located in St. Pete. All any woman has to do is call them in order to get help. Anyway, I was at this charity event..." and I continued glibly along, lying about a fictional encounter I had with a boa constrictor.
Eventually the conversation evolved to something else, and the woman was moved to the pedicure area just before The Thug returned, glancing suspiciously about.
"No," I thought speculatively, "You wouldn't like anyone speaking to her about CASA, would you?" Upon close examination, you could see ill tempered lines on his face, and his mouth was set in a grim line.
I didn't stay to watch their family dynamic. I finished up, paid, and left.
But I wonder if CASA will be getting a call from her in the near future. I hope very much that she will do so, but it all depends: Does she want this abuse, or doesn't she?