When I was interviewing the executive director and a counsellor at Gillian's Place, I kept asking them how women came to the shelter. I wanted to know if they just showed up at the door...did they call first...what did they say? Did they ask if they could come? Did they just say they needed help? What? I was trying to understand how I could write about a woman making that decision and I wanted it to ring true.
The counsellor told me the single most common thing women say to her when they phone the Shelter for the first time is: "I don't know if I'm calling the right place . . . it's not like he hits me."
I decided right then that Tamara was going to be emotionally abused rather than physically abused. I told the counsellor.
She nodded. She said people understand physical abuse because it's something they can see but have a more difficult time identifying with the devastating effects of emotional abuse.
(At the beginning of the series, I called Jake a "jerk" several times. (I called him an ass once but my editor thought that wouldn't fly with my client newspapers) I had photocopied the early strips and taken them with me to Gillian's Place. The counsellor told me I had to stop calling Jake a "jerk" because people would read it as male-bashing. She told me I had to show Jake being a jerk. I had to show how Tamara was being controlled and worn down.)
So, this is the reason for Tamara being emotionally abused and the reason I have not shown her with a "black eye." As soon as the counsellor said the words, I knew I was going to use " it's not like he hits me " somewhere in the story.