She laughed along

More than a year ago she told me she missed our appointment because she was in a car accident. I asked her how bad it was and if she was injured. Luckily, she said, she only got a black eye.

After that, she stopped lying about it. When we talk, eye to eye but increasingly just on msn or by phone, she just tells me what her husband did and what her injuries were: bleeding nose, sore arm, bruises everywhere. Some weeks ago, she had a black eye again, and had to go to work – she’s a teacher at a good university in Istanbul. Her colleagues made jokes: ‘Did your husband beat you?’ She laughed along with them, because of course that could never be the case. ‘I wanted to scream out’, she told me, ‘but I didn’t dare. They see me as an independent, strong working woman; they would be totally shocked if they heard that my husband is beating me.’

Her voice sounds different than a year ago. More insecure. And I’m less and less in touch with her. I know what to do when a friend is a victim of domestic violence: keep in touch, tell her that you are there for her when she needs it, that she can come running to you any time, and that she is strong enough to live without her man. But I don’t often get the chance any more to tell her these things. She used to always answer her phone, but now she doesn’t any more. She doesn’t log in on msn. Appointments to have a beer never happen, and she and her husband recently moved and she never gave me her new address.

I think of her. And wonder what I can do.

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