After Fifty Years, a Woman Tells Her Story of Abuse

The Pain She Could Hold in No Longer

William Spivey
3 min readNov 16, 2023


Photo by Tatiana Zanon at Unsplash

I was sitting alone in a small workplace breakroom; at maximum, it will comfortably hold 8–10 people, and often it is empty. I had been there for a few minutes when an elderly white woman entered the room, placing her things not quite across from me but in the next seat over. I knew her first name, and we’d often said hello in passing. She had a couple of microwavable dishes she’d brought from home. One contained some pasta she’d heated up, and the other had fruit. I was eating a sandwich I’d purchased because I was too lazy to bring a lunch and chose not to go out that day.

Her body was betraying her; she had a slight hunch and varicose veins. I suspected she was working past normal retirement age. I guessed her to be in her late 60s or early 70s, but I had never inquired about her circumstances. We worked in the same building but in different departments; I might see and speak to her once or twice a month. I mentioned her food “smells good.” She offered me a sample, which I declined, and we went about eating in silence.

I was checking the news on my cell phone when she asked, “Have you been following the Kavanaugh hearings?”

I said, “I have, very closely, as a matter of fact.”