You write about what you know. Unfortunately for Gayle Jones, her fiction writing was in too many ways her sad reality.
The successful and talented author has apparently been living the life of the women that she described in her books Corregidora and Eva's Man. Both are about women who were strong in most parts of their lives, but who were ultimately drawn to destructive men.
Jones's life recently has played out much like her books, as she and her husband, locked in a house and attempting suicide with natural gas, held off the police for three hours as they attempted to serve Mr. Jones with a warrant.
Jones is undergoing treatment for her physical and mental distress. Her husband slit his own throat in the hospital.
It is not known whether Jones was held on her own free will or as a hostage, but what is evident is that she was far too intimate with the issues that she wrote about.
And no matter how unfortunate and sad it is for her, Gayle Jones is not the only woman who has hidden herself behind a facade to avoid pain and embarrassment.
Brenda Fitch, crisis counselor at Crisis Intervention of Houston, a 24-hour information and referral hotline, said that it is not unusual for successful women like Jones to stay in relationships that are abusive to them either mentally of physically.
"If you are successful and you are being battered, you hold on to that successful side because that is the only positive thing in your life. It's the same as leading a double life," Fitch said. Women will try to "smolder the flames of negativity ... with the positives," said Fitch.
All too often, women find themselves in relationships with men who are not good for them, but they stay because they are too afraid to leave.
One relationship like this was brought to my attention by a friend of a young woman who was being battered by her boyfriend. The telltale signs were there. She blamed herself for the abuse because she felt that she was a bad person, and he reinforced those ideas by continuing to beat her.
In the midst of her relationship with this man, she has let him determine her self worth and value, which is the intention of the batterer in most cases. Just as Jones had cut off all communication with her family and the outside world, so has this young woman.
Fitch said that for most batterers it is a control issue, but that seeking help outside of the relationship will provide women with the tools to take control of their own lives.
The hotline is "a support system for many women who need to hear that it is okay to be afraid," said Fitch. "For every reason that you have to stay, we can give you a reason to leave."
Although it is far easier for me to advise from a neutral position, my concern is truly for the women who find themselves in these types of abusive relationships. It is my hope that someone can muster up the courage to make a call to get help instead of continuing to smother the flames.
One great thing to remember in any relationship, especially a romantic one, is something said by Maya Angelou:
"When a person shows you who they are the first time, believe them."
In a 20-year-old poem to a person only addressed as B.H., (presumably her husband, whose initials at the time were the same) Jones wrote:
"He is a dark man.
Sometimes he is a good dark man.
Sometimes he is a bad dark man.
I love him."
Maybe Jones should have believed him.
Tera Roberson is a junior journalism/RTV major who welcomes e-mail at SHYROBE@ AOL.com