- The Burning Bedby Barb Hensongispsaca
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: The Burning Bed by Barb Hensongispsaca
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I debated how to write this and even where to start, but I decided to give you a little background to begin with. I married young as a way to get out of a household with three women. I will admit, I never truly was in love, because I was too young to know what love really involved. When I went with my future husband to get our marriage certificate, he was already drunk at 2:30 in the afternoon, but, like most women, girls, I thought he would change for me. I was very wrong.

As the years passed, things just went from bad to worse. The great thing about my marriage was the three wonderful kids that I was blessed with. They were the light of my life and the reason I kept walking through the bowels of hell.

My husband kept drinking more and more as the years wore on. As I look back on it, I do believe he felt trapped, just as I did. Back in the 60's and 70's, you just got married and kept problems behind closed doors. If you fought, you got over it and moved on to the next day of fighting. There were no shelters, no counselors, no divorces, no hassles. You kept black eyes behind huge sunglasses.

The marriage started out rough and only escalated to a walk through hell. My husband would get drunk every night after work, and then everything would irritate him. He started with yelling, which changed to slapping, then that changed to hitting. I began to fear for my life.

There was one night that I was pushed to my limits and knew one day he would kill me. I was afraid to fight back, a mouse that kept returning to the trap for more cheese knowing that someday it would spring closed on my neck.

I had put my kids to bed and waited for the abuse I knew would start. He had had a bad day at work and was in a very foul mood. I tried to always keep the kids out of his way and knew this night was going to be particularly evil.

I walked out of the kids' bedrooms and landed on the floor without ever seeing the hand that put me there. Shaking off the pain, I looked up into the eyes of pure evil. The hatred that radiated from them paralyzed me. But the worst thing I saw was what was behind him. My three children were aroused from their beds and stood there watching and listening. Without him noticing, I motioned for them to go back to their rooms.

After the next slap, I looked up to notice they were not standing there and I praised God. I knew I could endure whatever he dished out, but I also knew this would be the last time. When he was done doing all the damage he could do, he walked back to the bedroom and passed out on the bed.

What I am about to tell you, I am not proud of, but you have to realize that I saw no way out of this situation. I hope you don't think less of me, but please realize that there are others out there still that are pushed to their limits and feel there is no way out. Just have an open mind and walk in my shoes.

I waited until I knew he was sound asleep. I went into the bedroom with a lighter, a cigarette, an ash tray and a determined mind. On the corner of the bed, I placed the ash tray. After lighting the cigarette, I laid it in the ashtray, but slanted so that the end was resting on the sheets. As the cigarette burned down, it would fall onto the bed and start burning the sheets. I hoped it would look as though he fell asleep smoking and caught the bed on fire.

I also hoped I had it timed right because I went into the kids' rooms, woke them and left our home. After loading my sleepy kids into the car, I started to wonder if anyone would figure it out. If so, I would be arrested and lose my kids to this monster - if he survived. With a heavy heart, I hurried back in and put out the fire that had started. I returned my kids to their rooms, got them to sleep, then decided what to do.

After I went back to the bedroom, I stripped off the burnt sheets to throw them in the corner. He never woke up, even when I pulled them out from under him. I sat against the opposite wall and spent the rest of the night just watching him sleep. I did not know what would happen when I confronted him in the morning, but this was going to end one way or another.

It was a long night that was full of a lot of soul searching, prayers and regrets. Finally, he stirred and I knew this would be my last stand. He looked at me, confused, until he saw the burned area in the mattress. I think he thought I saved his life, but I could not back down this time. I showed him the sheets and told him exactly what happened. I said I would do it again if I had to, but that I would not back down next time.

I expected the wrath from hell, but, without saying a word, he grabbed a few garbage bags and moved out. For the longest time I watched my back and I'm glad I did, but that is a story for another time.

I survived my time in hell, but there are both men and women out there that are going through their own horrors. Granted, there are now places that the abused can go for help and shelter, but there are some who live in too much fear to seek a new life. They are at risk.

If you get a chance to watch the movie "The Burning Bed" with Farrah Fawcett, it is a true story and one that I can relate to. Please read the author's notes for an explanation.


Author Notes
booklotto thank you for permission to use your picture.

1065 words

This was a hard piece to write even though it has been many years. I know I am not alone in the experiences of my life and I hope to reach anyone who needs to know they are not alone.

The Burning Bed is both a 1980 non-fiction book by Faith McNulty about battered housewife Francine Hughes, and a 1984 TV-movie adaptation written by Rose Leiman Goldemberg. The plot follows Hughes' trial for the murder of her husband, James Berlin "Mickey" Hughes, following her setting fire to the bed he was sleeping in at their Dansville, Michigan home on March 9, 1977, and thirteen years of physical domestic abuse at his hands.


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