nurses as battered women

Nurses Activism


I have been a nurse for thirty years and I have been a battered woman for twenty-five. I never viewed myself as battered. I always thought of my husband as "sick". I have been going through a divorce for past two years. I would like to be able to say that I was the one who left, but sadly no. Yet since he left, I have re-entered relationships which I had let fall to the wayside for years. Through talking to my friends and family, as well as going to therapy, history is being re-written. There is so much that I had pushed out of my mind, in order to survive.

Eighteen months ago, he followed me in his car and was able to run me off the road. Thankfully, an off-duty policeman stopped and called the local police. My husband was incarcerated for about two hours, given a ticket for careless driving and put on probation for violating the restraining order.

Part of the mending that I have been going through has taken place at a woman's group I attend. Also, I have learned so much about abuse. It has caused me to wonder how many women that I worked with or supervised over the years were victims of domestic violence. I have looked through the plethora of information about battered women and have found that nursing has begun to look at the issue, but I cannot see where we look at ourselves.

Since I always worked more than one job in order to maintain our lifestyle, the judge has ordered that I pay my husband alimony. The court says that it is only fair, since "men have been paying for years". I fail to see the comparison. How many men are battered by their wives, assume full responsibility for family and home? I am outraged that I must sell my home, give him half of the money, half the savings...that is enough. However, to pay my tormentor for the rest of my life is unthinkable!

I have been awarded the right to go to a jury trial, since there is enough evidence that I was battered. So far I have spent over $30,000.00 in legal fees and there is much more to come.

Friends have told me that they have known of other nurses who were in similar circumstances. As caretakers, many wonderful nurses are/have been in relationships with men who are alcoholic, addicts, abusive, etc. I have heard of nurses who were ordered by the court to pay alimony, so they selected to stop working. I love being a nurse and do not wish to stop nursing. Furthermore, by doing that I am allowing him to further control my life; and I refuse to do that anymore.

I am interested in speaking with other nurse, who have been abuse and how they recovered. I am also interested in speaking to nurses who were oredered by the courts to pay alimony to their ex's.

I hope that you are out there and that we can be a support to one another.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

My heart goes out to you.

Is there anyway you can appeal the alimony based on the history of abuse?

I don't know that I can help you. But my prayers are with you.

Look at http://

They deal with abuse situations for women and nurses also. There are some resources there and you can also join their email group for additional info.

gwenith, BSN, RN

3,755 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

Are there children involved? I agree it seems outrageous that you who have been the primary breadwinner and carer should have to continue in that role. The only reason why men originally carried the burden of allimony is that the wife was supposed to stay at home to care for the children. this sounds like an unreasonable judgement to me. They are using the precidence of male allimony to set up a situation where the highest earning spouse must continue to support the other despite a reakdown in the relationship.


2,709 Posts

what a brave thing to do in posting your story. youd be surprised how many nurses there are out there in your situation.

some state nurses assoc have peer assistance programs & can put you in touch with support systems. contact yours to find out if they can help direct you.

Good luck with your trial.


81 Posts

My heart goes out to you. I too was in an abusive marriage. My fingers are still crossed as my divorce isn't final yet. I hope to get out easier than you. I am pleased by the responses you have received so far. I received a lot of negative replys. Hopefully you won't. My fear is that I too will have to pay alimony as I have always made more than and worked more than him. (I'm trying not to be bitter here,). Keep us posted, and if you ever need someone to talk to, or want to ask specific questions, feel free to PM me. I wonder if there are support groups out there for abused nurses? Best of luck to you.

sanakruz, ADN

735 Posts

I can't imagine any jury that would side with that individual. Stick with the process.

good lawyers are costly for a reason; they tend to win! Keep us posted because we really do care.

We care about you too iggy, Glad to hear your freedom is so close!


28 Posts

My thoughts are with you. I was in an abusive relationship, also. Thank goodness you are out. I really hope you will fight this. To think that you may have to give him anything is UNTHINKABLE! My heart goes out to you, stay safe...


7 Posts

Thank you for your support. I have already checked the SNA, and not much help in that direction. Thank you for your good wishes.


195 Posts


I would express shock and suprise at the situation you are in, however, I am not shocked nor am I surprised at anything anymore. Have been there, done that...and the t-shirt I got was ripped from me by the legal system...

I live in a very small county that has a huge proportion of domestic violence cases considering our overall population...had a MD tell me once tha the was glad he had been born a man because "the men here sure are rough on yall "...had an official tell me when trying to get charges against someone pressed for a particularly violent beating, " aww..go on home now and give him some lovin', it isn't THAT BAD "...had a lawyer tell me that I needed to go back home and allow this man to "break in and assault " me...only then could I file domestic violence charges... and believe it or not, that lawyer held a seat on the county's anti-domestic violence commission...once I had the papers processed finally, the deputies would not deliver the warrant for his arrest...he had moved one county away and they would have had to drive to the other county's court house and have the deputies get involved...the trip must have involved missing out on a coffee break or something...

Several years ago, a local fellow murdered his wife, threw her body in a river...his trial ended in a mistrial because one of the jurors could not believe this guy had killed her...this guy still lives here...

Another woman was murdered by her former boyfriend while she was supposedly being protected by our deputies...the deputy failed to check the inside of her trailer, he saw that the man's truck was not there...thus she was "safe"....hahahahaha....

Many other women have been murdered here...many more have had the one place they could go for help ripped from under their feet due to the excuse of poor funding...hmmmm...I feel sure there will be more deaths of women because of the mysogynistic attitude of this county....

I was stalked by a co-worker and had no support from the local authorities nor did I have any support from hospital fact, he was put on my shift which was in direct violation of the court order that he was to be on a different shift...and oh yes, administration had a copy of the court order... I left that job, needless to say...

I have worked directly with other nurses, male and female, who have been in abusive relationships...I have heard the whispers of disgust from the people who cannot understand how difficult it is to leave these relationships...

I have also lost a big part of myself...I have become an over-achiever on the job...always taking the more difficult to handle cases...because I know that I can make a difference to "someone"...

My present relationship is not physically violent but I do honestly believe I have made another mistake in judgement...forgetting that the deceit of courtship is rampant in my life...I am a complete and total idiot...I am happy for anyone with a good relationship...I know now that I am one of those people who should never be involved with another human being... have heard way too many times lately that the state in which we live is a "community property" state...this is my house...he came in with nothing...and if he ever leaves, I will be danged if he will get anything I have worked for...I would just as well burn this place to the ground and everything in it before I will just " hand over" anything to him...

Sorry for the long post...having a really bad day...


7 Posts

Dear SuzanneSue,

My heart is sad for you. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly. I understand what you have to say about the authorities and the legal system...although your examples may even be worse than my own. On September 11 2001, my ex showed up at my front door with two policemen at 10:00 pm. I didn't hear them knocking because I was asleep in a back room. The police department called me and told me to open the door. I came to the door and asked one officer to come in. I showed him my restraining order. He told me that I had no choice that I had to let him in to get some clothes. I told him that he had been gone since January...what could he possibly want this late at night. I felt intimidated and embarassed by the police, so I let them in. My ex was smirking in my face. He wanted to take luggage and I said no...he had already taken enough of the luggage. The police said what do you want him to use? He cursed at me, as he got his belongings...said I didn't put them away neat enough. He went downstairs and started going through the cd's that he wanted...the police handed him their flashlight so he could see better. That was it..I told them they had to leave. On the way out, he started to unplug the cd player. I said to the police that they had to stop him...this was illegal. They laughed and finally drove off. I called my lawyer the next morning and he told me that I should not have let them in. I called the police to report what happened and I was told "I think it was considerate of him to call the police to come to the house, no matter how late it was. What would make you happy, if he knocked the door in?" I had a lawyer drop me because I would cry when he yelled at me...drop the case two weeks before we were due in court. That was after I had given him $8,000.00.

I don't want to burn down my house, but I can understand your feelings. I am so sorry for your pain. It has helped me to read voluminously (start with Dr. Lenore Walker's 'The Battered Woman'), go to therapy, and talk to other women who have been in the same share stories and not feel so alone. The women I have met are beautiful and talented...who would guess what we went through each day before and after we go to work...days off were only times of tears.

Don't give up on yoourself. I believe that we are all supposed to be loved. First we have to love ourselves and think we deserve better. That is why I am going public and looking for help from other nurses....perhaps one day I will be able to help them myself. I cannot believe or accept that all this pain has been for nothing.


2,709 Posts


Co-dependency can be associated with many different types of interpersonal problems, including chemical dependency, mental illness or impairment, divorce, physical impairment, and abusive relationships. Co-dependency is a person's response to painful interpersonal realities......Co-dependency also can be observed in many of the helping professions such as therapists, nurses, and social workers....

Co-dependent patterns can be changed. Co-dependents can and do learn to assert their rights and their own self-worth. They can address the fears and devastating effects of co-dependency and learn new, healthy behaviors. Self-abandonment can be healed and replaced with a sense of self-caring and an ability to validate themselves and others. Co-dependents can learn to set appropriate boundaries, when to be assertive, and when being vulnerable is safe. They can stop self-defeating behaviors and can learn methods that will allow them to become emotionally and spiritually free from their co-dependency.

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