Ayn Suzanne Pillsbury
Ayn Suzanne Pillsbury
The first episode of violence I recall was the year I was in eighth grade. That would have been in the autumn of 1988. Craig had taken us into the family room, just the kids. Mom wasn’t there. Craig wanted to talk to us about how incompetent Mom was. It was bad stuff about Mom. He was trying to win our loyalty. So then Mom came home and came into the room wanting to participate in the discussion. Craig was very angry and told her he was having a private discussion with the kids and that she wasn’t welcome.
Of course, being our mother, she believed the contrary. None of us objected to her being there. Then he became very loud and vituperative and became vocally and physically intimidating. He wrestled Mom to the ground and was on top of her holding her down and hitting her and so all of us kids were torn. We didn’t know what to do. We wanted to get him off of her, so I picked up a bar bell which was probably from 12 - 15 pounds and sort of tapped Craig with it on the back, not really wanting to hurt him but wanting him to realize that we didn’t approve of what he was doing. I don’t know how well it worked. Eventually he got off her.
There was some discussion for a while, Mom saying why she should be able to stay and Craig saying why she should leave. Then Craig again became very angry and punched Mom in the jaw, knocking her out cold. Of course she was standing so she fell over and I thought she might have struck her head on the hearth stones. So she hit the floor and we were all worried she was dead. She wasn’t responding. Craig left her there. We ran and got some water and someone felt her pulse. Then Scott and Edi and Justin went to call the police. We stayed with Mom until she came around and the police came but Craig wasn’t arrested because Mom told them not to arrest him.
Mom did not hit Craig. Mom never hit Craig. Mom is the least violent person I know. Craig never scrupled to use physical intimidation to get what he wanted.
Craig called me either Sunday night or Monday after he left Mom on January 23rd. I had been gone for the weekend. Craig called me and told me that he was divorcing Mom. This was a great surprise to me since we had just been on a family vacation over Christmas which was happy and uneventful with the exception of the following violent outburst by Craig.
I was on the laptop computer chatting with someone on line. It was around 10:00 p.m. Each time I received a message from the person I was chatting with it made a dinging sound. Craig was trying to sleep in an adjacent room and yelled at me to get off the computer because the noise was bothering him. I was in the process of getting off and he yelled one more warning, I think, before coming out just after I had gotten off, slamming the top of the computer down and yelling at Mom who had come out in anticipation of his rage to try to get me off the computer.
He yelled at her that it was her fault because she hadn’t gotten me off the computer. He slammed her into the wall. Mom had bruises for a while after that. And that was the last violent episode I witnessed between my Mom and Craig.
To finish the story of my conversation with Craig, Craig said to me that he had first decided on a divorce three months before he actually told my Mom. Which would put the date sometime in mid-October, roughly after my brother Edi’s near-fatal motorcycle accident. I have a hard time believing that the two are not related. He never represented to me that he had given my Mom any warning. I know she would have mentioned it if he had. When I asked him why he was doing this, he said that he didn’t think he had made her happy in all the 14 years they were together. He offered no real explanation. He never mentioned my Mom’s heroic rescue of our finances or feeling grateful to her. That surprised me. He said he didn’t care about the money and he wanted to make sure my mom was provided for, that he could always go and make more money, so the money was not an issue. He led me to believe that he still considered himself to be our father.
Craig told me that the reason he didn’t tell my mom he wanted to divorce her in person was that he was afraid she would, “go for the knives” and hurt him. Nothing could be more ridiculous than the idea of my mother being violent. I can’t remember her ever so much as spanking me, much less trying to knife the husband she loved. I told him not to be ridiculous, that there was only one person who had ever been violent in their relationship. He grunted what seemed an affirmation in response. It would take a monumental act of intellectual dishonesty and denial for him to actually believe that.
He went on to say that he intended to set up a trust fund for my continuing education and that of my children. He ended the conversation saying he hoped to talk to me soon, which he did.
In later conversations I learned he was not assuming responsibility for the divorce. He did not seem to believe that it warranted his personal attention. He never expressed concern about my Mother’s physical health, which had been failing recently, as he well knew. He expressed no concern for her heart problems. His interest in the divorce was just for himself.
When I talked to Mom she expressed concern about what had happened. She said she still loved him and was worried about him and didn’t know what to think. She was confused and hurt.
Craig has also had a history of being violent with my sister Dawn, engaging in inappropriate conflict with someone who was probably 12 - 14,
One episode in particular I remember took place when we were returning from a family trip. We were in LAX, walking into baggage claim. Craig asked Dawn, who had her hands full, to carry Justin’s bag. Dawn, for obvious reasons, didn’t want to. Craig became enraged. He charged Dawn who was facing him at a dead standstill. She put up her hands to defend herself from the 350 pounds of angry oncoming Craig. Somehow he managed in the very brief moment of their contact to fall over, failing in what I assume was an attempt to punish her for her assertion of personal autonomy.
I recall people applauding, understandably, since you have to wonder why a man of that size would take a running leap at his daughter in a public place.
I have always been under the impression that Craig was my father. He always introduced himself as my father. Never as my step-father. He always said he had six kids.
Signed, June 1999
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