I was also a very typical victim because I knew nothing about domestic violence, its warning signs or its patterns. I met Connor on a cold, rainy January night. He sat next to me on the New York City subway, and he started chatting me up. He told me two things. One was that he, too, had just graduated from an Ivy League school, and that he worked at a very impressive Wall Street bank.
But what made the biggest impression on me that first meeting was that he was smart and funny and he looked like a farm boy. He had these big cheeks, these big apple cheeks and this wheat-blond hair, and he seemed so sweet. One of the smartest things Connor did, from the very beginning, was to create the illusion that I was the dominant partner in the relationship. He did this especially.
At the beginning by idolizing me We started dating, and he loved everything about me, that I was smart, that I’d gone to Harvard, that I was passionate domestic violence attorney Tucson about helping teenage girls, and my job. He wanted to know everything about my family and my childhood and my hopes and dreams.
Connor believed in me, as a writer and a woman, in a way that no one else ever had. And he also created a magical atmosphere of trust between us by confessing his secret, which was that, as a very young boy starting at age four, he had been savagely and repeatedly physically abused by his stepfather, and the abuse had gotten so bad that he had had to drop out of school in eighth grade.
Even though he was very smart, and he’d spent almost years rebuilding his life. Which is why that Ivy League degree and the Wall Street job and his bright shiny future meant so much to him. If you had told me that this smart, funny, sensitive man who adored me would one day dictate whether or not I wore makeup, how short my skirts were, where I lived, what jobs I took, who my friends were and where I spent Christmas, I would have laughed at you, because there was not a hint of violence or control or anger in Connor at the beginning. I didn’t know that the first stage in any domestic violence.