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Descriptions of the characters in this production are described on a separate web page.
On an arbitrary evening CHRIS, the son of ALICE (protagonist) and BOB (antagonist), is playing with construction toys. ALICE checks in on CHRIS, but she leaves with a worried look on her face.
ALICE is working in the kitchen as BOB walks in, asking if dinner is ready. ALICE says it's not, so BOB begins gently asking if anything happened during the day to warrant dinner being late. ALICE concedes there is no special reason why dinner is not ready.
BOB then begins verbally abusing ALICE, claiming she has not done anything on time all week He claims if he performed at work as poorly as she does at home, he would be fired. As BOB's anger and volume escalate, ALICE tries to calm him down, claiming CHRIS will hear them in the other room. But by this time, CHRIS has already donned headphones to tune his parents out.
BOB continues to get angrier, reminding ALICE he has a high pressure job so she can stay at home and have a big house, nice car, and expensive clothes. ALICE tries to tell BOB he's not helping her finish dinner on time. BOB grabs ALICE, she breaks away, but BOB continues arguing. BOB ends up grabbing ALICE's neck in a choke hold, threatening to fire her if she doesn't respect him.
The following morning ALICE debates with herself if she should call a domestic abuse crisis hot line. She does and DEBI answers the line.
ALICE says her husband beat her last night. DEBI asks if ALICE is in a safe place and can talk. ALICE confirms she is, so DEBI assures ALICE there is a safe place for her to stay and asks if she would mind answering a few questions first. ALICE agrees and DEBI proceeds with the intake.
DEBI ascertains ALICE was beat for not having dinner ready on time. After assuring ALICE her husband's response was unwarranted, DEBI inquires about the magnitude of the injury, specifically if ALICE needs any medical attention. ALICE responds she is hurt but not bruised, although she has been beaten worse before.
DEBI expresses concern that if ALICE's husband hit her hard enough to hurt her, he could do something more violent in the future. Consequently DEBI offers ALICE the opportunity to stay in a domestic abuse shelter. ALICE objects, wondering how BOB and CHRIS will get along without her.
After finding out who BOB and CHRIS are, DEBI assures ALICE that CHRIS can stay at the shelter too. ALICE reveals BOB travels for business purposes, so DEBI suggests if he is able to look after himself when on travel, he could probably look after himself while ALICE is at the shelter.
ALICE is unconvinced, so DEBI asks ALICE to consider what her life would be like if she stayed at home. DEBI says she can't make the decision to stay or go but she will support whichever decision ALICE makes. ALICE ponders this for a moment and decides she needs to leave. DEBI says she must ask a few more questions before arranging for ALICE to get to the shelter. ALICE is relieved and expresses her appreciation.
That afternoon ETHYL, a shelter volunteer, brings ALICE and CHRIS through the front door of their new home for the next thirty days. ALICE expresses amazement she did not have to pack. ETHYL reassures ALICE the shelter has everything she and CHRIS need, but ALICE can go to her home for other items once things settle.
ETHYL takes CHRIS and ALICE on a tour of the shelter to help them get familiar with their new surroundings. First stop is the playroom used by the children at the shelter. CHRIS is immediately enthralled, drops his security toy, and starts playing with items in the room. ALICE is distraught by this and yells at CHRIS to stop, but ETHYL assures ALICE the room has been set aside for the children.
Next ETHYL shows ALICE and CHRIS the bedroom they will be using. CHRIS nonchalantly takes the top bunk as soon as he walks into the room but ALICE is too tired to comment. ETHYL shows ALICE where clothes and toiletries are and offers CHRIS a toy to play with and take home. ETHYL suggests that ALICE take a breather before continuing with the tour.
ETHYL later shows ALICE and CHRIS the kitchen and explains where things are kept as well as the kitchen rules: eat when you feel like it, but put dishes in the dishwasher when you are finished.
ETHYL finally visits with just ALICE in the family room to wrap up the tour. ETHYL explains that in addition to individual counseling, ALICE will receive group counseling while she stays at the shelter. ETHYL gives ALICE a journal for her own use, a copy of the shelter policies, and a notebook for use during group counseling. ALICE expresses she is tired; ETHYL lets ALICE know DEBI said ALICE had not slept much the night before, so ETHYL offers ALICE the opportunity to take a nap. ALICE is thankful, saying she could use some sleep.
That evening ALICE meets FAITH, a counselor, in a group session. FAITH reveals she is a domestic abuse survivor and introduces ALICE to GINA and HEATHER, two other survivors currently residing at the shelter.
In explaining how the group works, FAITH acknowledges the need for emotional as well as physical healing. GINA sarcastically infers this involves gabbing about personal nightmares. FAITH admits this is true to some extent, as discussing abuse with others to find common patterns helps survivors discern fiction from truth.
GINA shares her fiction was believing she was personally responsible for being beaten, as opposed to the truth that her boyfriend held her to a standard of perfection and then irresponsibly abused her for not meeting that standard. ALICE, somewhat in denial, states BOB did not expect her to be perfect but merely to do her fair share. HEATHER then shares her fiction was believing if she did a bit more her husband would be happy, when in reality she could not force her husband to be happy nor, for that matter, stop abusing her.
FAITH interjects HEATHER's husband is in a batterer's intervention program (BIP, abuser counseling) and many who complete the BIP learn to resolve problems without resorting to violence. ALICE expresses she could not imagine not being beaten for a week. FAITH then reflects this demonstrates the extent of ALICE's abuse as normally a person could not imagine being beaten by a loved one.
ALICE then realizes she has been abused and her interaction with BOB has changed since the couple first married. FAITH shares that, perhaps with or perhaps without BOB, ALICE can live free from abuse and the group will support her right to do so. ALICE, still skeptical in her heart, expresses her mind's view she can always hope.
After some time, ALICE, GINA, and HEATHER eventually resume unassisted living but still meet for group counseling. In this particular session ALICE tells a joke which the whole group laughs at, including INDRA, the after care counselor.
INDRA reflects ALICE's new job seems to go well and her attitude has changed. ALICE comments she is amazed by her own ability to get and keep a job. HEATHER and GINA both note ALICE always had the ability to do so while implying perhaps BOB may have thought otherwise.
ALICE agrees she has improved and wonders aloud when the pain will stop. ALICE questions why she allowed herself to be abused. INDRA reflects the abuse ALICE experienced was unwarranted regardless of her behavior and respecting the reality of the abuse while keeping safe from further abuse will help ALICE heal.
HEATHER reflects she understand ALICE's pain, noting everyone in the group was in an uncaring environment. GINA reflects although she hurts, she realizes there is no requirement to be abused in the future. ALICE then asks if the pain everyone is feeling ever stops.
INDRA admits there are no guarantees the pain will never come back, yet eventually survivors realize the abuse is an event in the past. GINA indicates she doesn't understand why ALICE is complaining because she has made tremendous progress. ALICE acknowledges her gratitude for this progress yet confesses she is still fearful when alone.
HEATHER comments there is no need for ALICE to feel alone as she can draw on the rest of the group for support. INDRA emphasizes this point, noting everyone has made major changes and supported each other in decisions to turn away from abuse.
INDRA further explains the group is starting a new life free from abuse. GINA admits this means the group has its work cut out. This reminds ALICE of the need for anti domestic violence training as part of her company's ethics program, something ALICE wishes she did not have to deal with.
INDRA resonates she wishes such training was entirely unnecessary and there was no need for domestic abuse support groups. However INDRA reflects the reality is support groups like this one are in fact necessary and encourages the group to work through some personal growth exercises.
At some unspecified time, BOB is placed under a court order to obtain abuser counseling and meets with JILL, a BIP counselor. JILL opens the session by reviewing BOB's release forms and explaining the confidential nature of the counseling, specifically that anything said in the room stays in the room.
JILL reiterates the court has granted BOB probation conditioned upon participating in the BIP and honoring ALICE's protective order. JILL explains the program is demanding as well as psychologically strenuous. She also asks BOB if he is willing to participate.
BOB says he is willing, but adds he's confused about how this all happened, since he does not believe himself to be a violent person. JILL asks BOB for his side of the story. BOB explains he has a high pressure job so ALICE can stay at home, but she does not appreciate what he does for her and ignores him. JILL reflects BOB's job must be demanding and asks if he gets into fights at work. BOB says no, he is in control at work.
JILL asks if conflicts do not escalate at work, why do they escalate to violence at home? BOB says he tries to avoid fighting but ALICE won't listen to reason. JILL asks BOB to look at the problem from another perspective, namely that he chose to solve this particular problem with violence.
JILL explains the BIP provides BOB the opportunity to learn the root causes of his anger and change his behavior. BOB asks if it is really possible for him to change and get his family back. JILL tells BOB since he does not respond to problems with anger at work, there is no need for him to respond with anger at home.
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