Carolyn: The Silent Secret

Carolyn: The Silent Secret

Carolyn and her former husband, BJ, were the picture of a perfect family with two grown children and an extremely successful business.

But Carolyn kept hidden the fear and shame that ran her life…. Until it nearly killed her.


Carolyn Cox relays her story as a domestic violence survivor -

Carolyn speaking at event

"As with many girls in rural Missouri, I started dating fairly young. I was dating my husband when I was 16 and I was married when I was 18. 

As to any warning that I might have had before I was married…any warning of domestic violence…it did not happen. There is nothing that I can recall.

Shortly after I was married, he began to exert control.…there’s a pinch that becomes a push and then a punch.

But in those early years, we set goals and we moved on in what I thought was a positive direction…going to college and accomplishing all that while we were married and had children.

I had this illusion we were a happy family doing all of the right things.

So over the years, you go on. You make things work. Your children get older. You get involved in homework and all their school activities and you don’t stop to think you are exhausted from making all this happen and every so often, there is a black eye or your head is being held to the floor or against the wall saying I will not tolerate this or that from you anymore.

We started our business and we were working very hard at it. My husband quit his job. I continued teaching and I was working the business nights and weekends. We were able to build a new home. So I looked back at all of this and I said you are truly fortunate.

I don't think that anybody saw anything that they really thought was bad."

Carolyn: The Silent Secret

Carolyn's Friends

"Carolyn would show up for meetings with her arm in a sling or her neck in a brace and I think we just all came to the conclusion that she was a klutz. We should have been more observant. When she said she hurt her arm doing this or doing that, we believed her. It wasn't the truth. We were not perceptive enough to see that. I have to say that as far as the time we spent with them as a couple, I personally never picked up any kind of friction... or any vibes...nothing. It was Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful couple."

- Jim and Beth Wester,
Friends of Carolyn Cox 


Rationalizing the Abuse

"...when you are in an abusive relationship, you are learning to work with it. You function with it every day. You don't even realize you are doing so. You rationalize it. You minimize it. You justify it. You excuse it. You say he's just having a bad day. He is not feeling well. He is getting older."

"Now I know that just simply empowers the abuser."

- Carolyn Cox,
Domestic Violence Survivor

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Living with Abuse

"I convinced myself, I did not fit the image of abuse - And most abusers feel the same way as well."

- Carolyn Cox,
Domestic Violence Survivor

Carolyn's Secret

"I really feel that the social impact in my situation and with women like me is an enormous influence on keeping this quiet. I just would like for women, like me, to realize that you can get beyond it."

- Carolyn Cox,
Domestic Violence Survivor

Illusions About Abuse

"If you think abuse primarily occurs when people are getting to know each other, remember I was married 43 years and dated him 3 years before that."

- Carolyn Cox,
Domestic Violence Survivor


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All photographs & video components of Carolyn: The Silent Secret are the exclusive property of Robin F. Pendergrast Photography, Inc.


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Carolyn: The Silent Secret

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