An Obscured Correction
In one of my practice locations I became friendly with an accountant. His wife, his mother, his mother-in-law, and his father-in-law were all my patients. I thought I knew the family pretty well, but there were hidden secrets.
On the occasion of his mother’s periodic check up she suddenly made me aware of a problem. “You know Richard has a temper. You might not know that when he blows up periodically he hits Susan and has hurt her quite a bit. I’ve talked to him but it doesn’t do any good. He thinks the world of you, and if you talked to him he might change.”
I masked my shock at this revelation and told her I would try to change the behavior. How I would do this would challenge me as no one likes to be confronted with abhorrent behavior directly.
Richard and I had lunch together periodically and I approached the problem obliquely.
I arrived at the lunch place late and showing my agitation. “ I don’t usually see you like this. What’ got you so upset ?” he asked.
“ Well I saw this woman this morning and she had bruises on her chest and legs and was really agitated and crying. When I asked her how she got the bruises she finally told me that her husband would beat on her periodically, and she was scared to defend herself. I knew her husband was in the waiting room so I went out there and asked him to come to my office. When he came him into the office I slammed the door and got in his face and told him what miserable piece of crap I thought he was and that I would personally beat his ass if he did that again as well as report him to the police. I don’t know if I could whip him but he saw how P. O.ed I was and he folded up.”
“Do I know this guy?” my friend asked.
“You might, but I’m not about to break patient confidentiality. It just makes me so mad that a big man will beat on a woman like that. You know I have had my share of aggravation from women and felt like hurting them, but that just seems so despicable to me. I just can’t see a big man beating on a woman. It’s disgusting.”
The conversation soon moved on to other topics and we left in our usual state of pleasure at the conversation on gossip in the community and the world.
Maybe three months or so later I saw his mother. “You really must have told Richard off. He hasn’t hit Susan since we talked and he’s treating her nicer than he ever has before. Thank you. You must have really laid the law down to him.”
Over the ensuing years I never heard another word about abuse from Richard and I wasn’t about to tell anybody about my subterfuge, until now.