Tell us about a time you made a false assumption about a person or a place — how did they prove you wrong?
I had a client at my counseling office. We’ll call her Jane. I saw her for a little over a year, staying with her through an extended separation from a husband she said was abusive. The abuse was mainly emotional and verbal, with rare physical violence now and then.
Jane was high-strung, nervous, emotionally labile (that means she could change from high to low in a moment). She loved her son more than life, and was concerned for his emotional safety. I believed her story. No reason not to. I spoke with her husband once, via telephone, and was extremely put off by his high-handed, superior attitude. He was patronzing and condescending, one of those men who believe that all women run on emotion and have no common sense whatsoever. That attitude earns no points with me. At all.
I didn’t see or hear from her for close to two years. Then one day, as I scanned the daily paper, I saw a police report that she had shot and killed her husband. She had turned herself in. She was quickly found guilty of murder in the first degree and will spend the rest of her life in prison.
She said he was “coming at her,” which I assume meant that she believed he was threatening her physically and/or sexually, and she said she just wasn’t going to put up with it again. The jury wasn’t impressed.
I’ll never know what really happened. She’s the only one who was there, as far as we know. I will always wonder if she did a magnificent job of fooling me, or if she is telling the absolute truth about all that took place.
I’ll just never know.