Is He a Kind Man?

I have been gardening most fine days recently.This has involved a lot of weeding and I use a kneeler with a pad and handles to haul myself up.

On Friday afternoon, I noticed a cramp at the back of my left knee so decided to stop gardening. The cramp quickly spread down my leg to the ankle and up to my thigh. I had trouble walking. Then my leg grew even more painful so I dug out the old cane my mother had used. I spent an unhappy night on painkillers. Getting up and down from a chair, the bed or the loo by putting weight on my knee was really difficult.

Saturday was also miserable and I lay around like a grumpy slug. I had very little sleep that night and decided to go to the emergency department at the hospital in case I had done something serious to my knee. My husband dropped me off and after he’d left the waiting room, the nurse-receptionist asked if he was my partner and then said, ‘Is he a kind man?’ I took a few seconds to realize what she was really asking before replying, ‘Are you asking if he hits me?’¬† When she nodded, I assured her my husband was definitely a kind man.

I have thought about her words since then and wondered if all women with an injury are questioned. Unfortunately, there are many documented cases of family violence in our area. Are all women with a bad knee or bruised arm or broken nose asked about the menfolk they live with? It may be wise to ask but how many are able to give truthful answers? My husband had left the room but if you have been beaten up by your partner and he is waiting in emergency with you, aren’t you more likely to say you walked into a door to get that back eye?

I recalled that this wasn’t the only time I’ve been asked about violence. When I was in my thirties and suffering from stomach pains which led to surgery, I was asked about the bruises on my thighs when I was being examined. I was horrified to think that the nurse thought someone was abusing me. No doubt she observed my startled reaction and believed me when I said I bruised easily and was inclined to walk into things. It’s strange that the truth about walking into things and the lie are identical and if you give details, you might even sound less convincing.

Surely¬†education is the best way to stop family violence. You have to persuade people that it doesn’t solve their problems and there are alternatives to whacking a woman or a child and occasionally a man. Since someone who has grown up with violence is likely to perpetuate the cycle, it must be broken. A tough job for counsellors.

As to my knee, I have a muscular strain. I was given medication and told to stat with gentle exercise when it begins to feel better. So I will do that. My weeds are waiting. .