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The Most Brazen Example of Co-Dependency I Have Ever Seen: Penelope Trunk Refuses to Leave Her Abusive Partner

By carolyncastiglia |

penelope trunk, domestic violence

A photo from Penelope Trunk’s blog showing the results of domestic violence.

You guys, you know it’s bad when my response is “holy shit.” Cuz I’ve seen some stuff in my life, and I’ve made some poor choices in my life. Like Penelope Trunk, the famed blogger who once tweeted about how relieved she was to be having at miscarriage a work, I had a dysfunctional childhood, though (I just learned from reading more about her) not nearly to the same extent. Trunk wrote this week of how she was taken out of her parents’ home when she was 14 and how they told her the family was “much better” with her in the mental ward.

Trunk says, “So I did therapy alone, and after a while I got that feeling again: That maybe now I would be the type of person my parents liked and we could all get along. I lasted one day at my parents’ house before there was violence. I tell you this to tell you where my comfort zone is. Right there.”

Girl, I understand. I do. But let me say this, boo: when a man is hitting you, and Trunk’s “Farmer” is, YOU DON’T NEED ANY OTHER EXCUSE TO LEAVE. Especially when you have kids.

The world (okay, the blogosphere) knows Trunk is obsessed with having drama in her life – she’s built her career on it. I don’t follow Trunk’s blog regularly, but I’ve been directed to it multiple times as she’s written various intensely personal posts, like this one in which she admits her partner is beating her and that she is not ready to leave. The post is titled, tellingly, “The psychology of quitting,” as if walking away from domestic violence is giving up somehow. Giving up on being able to change the person who is hurting you, because that’s what will heal all of the hurt you’ve experienced your entire life. I know that desire all too well. I have invited many men into my life, men who I looked at with eyes of pity, men who I thought I could help – felt like I had to help – and it took me all this time to realize that in doing so I was simply displacing the healing energy I should be directing at myself.

I feel sorry for Trunk, who leads her post with a sexually charged photo of her body naked from the waist down, revealing a bruise on her hip “from where the Farmer slammed me into our bed post.” It’s clear that she has not reached her rock bottom in this relationship; even though she says she thinks she’s “dying,” she writes, “I am not leaving.”

From her post:

The hardest thing about leaving is that no one cares. My parents were so relieved when the police finally took me out of the house. The police said, “We’re going to have to take her now,” and my mom said, “Thank you so much! Please do that.” She wasn’t mean when she said it. She was genuinely relieved.

That’s how the Farmer will be, too. He broke up with me 50 times while we were dating. He loves the feeling of getting rid of me.

That’s why I can’t leave. I want someone to miss me.

Well, girl, I hear you. But guess what? The only people who are going to miss you – and who probably already are missing you in many ways – are your children. It’s amazing how abuse has a sick way of trickling down from one generation to the next, and while Trunk may not be hitting or verbally abusing her kids (I don’t know and truthfully I don’t want to search her blog to find out), she is, by example, setting them up to abuse or be abused by a partner in the future.

And also, babe – I’ma get totally, totally for really real with you right now, Penelope – you are probably right. It might be true that no one cares about your fate. Because you don’t care about yourself right now, so why should anyone else care about you? I’m not mad at you, I don’t think you’re a loser, I don’t think you’re a fuck-up and I get how you got here, but I know deep down you know you are the only person who can get yourself out. It’s not doing that that makes you a loser. Because you deserve to get out and your kids deserve a mother who wants to get out.

I know how hard it is. But do it anyway.

I wish you the very best. Truly.

 

Read about this mother’s post-divorce story: A Perfect Day

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About carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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30 thoughts on “The Most Brazen Example of Co-Dependency I Have Ever Seen: Penelope Trunk Refuses to Leave Her Abusive Partner

  1. Bunnytwenty says:

    It’s really amazing how she erases her children’s feelings from her considerations about leaving her partner. It sounds like she’s already carrying the abuse down to the next generation, if only in the form of benign neglect.

  2. Randi says:

    She might have Borderline Personality Disorder, which quite common for women who suffered childhood abuse. People with BPD often feel addicted to drama and unworthy of love, and they take risks others wouldn’t. There’s an amazing therapy called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy which works wonders. I wholeheartedly recommend she look into it, at least for her children.

  3. Suzie says:

    Wait. What? I knew this name rang a bell. I don’t follow her, but a friend of mine once sent me a link to something she wrote about furthering one’s design career. So she is promoting herself as “guidance counselor”? This is crazy. I won’t judge, but she shouldn’t be tooting herself as someone people should be listening to. Reminds me of a parenting advisor whose kid had all sorts of issues like drug addiction and stuff. Sometimes when you’re having issues you need to shut down the public show and work on yourself. In this case, it means mustering the courage to leave this guy.

  4. carolyncastiglia says:

    Anna North at Jezebel intimated that PT’s way of trying to gain control is to give advice, and I get that. But yeah, she needs to hit rock bottom and start to build herself up again, solo. My heart really does go out to her. I’ve often asked why I was able to do it when I know some people can’t. It’s hard to understand. I don’t feel special – I wish I could give everyone who needs it that gift.

  5. Emma says:

    I’m glad you wrote a post about this. I read her post yesterday, and I’ve been following her for years. This is a prime example of how abuse can effect anyone. Not just the poor or the uneducated. It’s abuse because she can’t leave. She’s smart, independent, and still is caught up in an abusive relationship. It’s a disease, just like depression or addiction. She needs someone to help her.

  6. carolyncastiglia says:

    She needs to seek that help herself. That’s her only way out.

  7. Rosana says:

    She is part of the group that things that parents do not affect their kids lives. Kids are born a certain way, according to them, and nothing she does will rub off on those children. Sad, for the kids I mean!

  8. Suzie says:

    Although, reading bits of her blog, she had the observation that “I think that one reason people listen to me about choosing a career is because I chose so badly, so many times. And bounced back. And I think that one reason that Wired just asked me to write a column on how to start a business is because I have started one and seen it go under. And then done another.” This could apply to her personal life, too? Maybe she will leave as her next step? Anyway, skimming through the blog, she seems a little like a mess. A successful mess? I don’t envy her.

  9. Andrea says:

    There’s something that bothers me about the whole “even smart women can get abused” trope. Um, no. This woman is an idiot. There is no possible universe in which I would allow my husband to hit me. Repeatedly. It just would not happen, and not because that is an atrocious environment in which to raise children (potential future abusers/abused), but because NO ONE is allowed to hit me. Just period. There is something deeply broken inside this woman to allow such a thing. She needs help and intervention. Like, yesterday.

  10. Randi says:

    Maybe it’s not about how smart she is. It’s about having a disease. My mom is brilliant, yet spent 25 years with an abuser. We don’t call alcoholics or people with cancer idiots. Why do we feel free to say that about people with mental or emotional issues? Good for you for never being with an abuser. Were you molested as a child, the way my mom was? Have you suffered other traumas, like the author? We women need to be far less judgmental of each other, in every arena.

  11. Suzie says:

    “There’s something that bothers me about the whole “even smart women can get abused” trope.” Yes…I agree. just because someone has constructed some business success doesn’t make them “smart” reading her blog she seems so NOT SMART…I know she is “on the spectrum” though, so that plays a role. She is not 100% mentally.

  12. jenny tries too hard says:

    Ooof. Poor lady. I wish she would get off the internet and do what she needs to do privately, but, wow, it’s going to be a lot and it’s going to be hard for her to get used to not having the feedback (ignored or otherwise) that she gets from her blog. I hope she has someone who can help her, close by.

    @Andrea Re: smart ladies can be abused, well yeah. PT is definitely, demonstrably smart, but she’s—say it with me now—DYSFUNCTIONAL. Being dysfunctional doesn’t make someone “an idiot” or stupid or lazy or self-centered (though certainly she seems unable to realize the effect on her kids, here) and calling abused, hurt people ugly names doesn’t help anything. Even if she were stupid, as in uneducated/inarticulate/etc it wouldn’t help anything blame her “stupidity” for her abuse, because no one, dysfunctional, illiterate, ugly, smart, beautiful or otherwise deserves to be abused. Yes, yes, you would never allow your husband to hit you, and that’s great. Congratulations, you’re not dysfunctional (in this way), but apparently Penelope is and she doesn’t deserve to be further belittled as she works through it.

    And, yes, a cry for help that is not immediately followed by leaving is pretty standard for DV survivors—think calling the police, but then refusing to press charges. This sort of disclosure can be a step toward leaving. After a while, many of them make the next step.

  13. BlackOrchid says:

    She is a classic Borderline Personality. Text. Book.

    I hope someday she finds a decent doctor and the help she so desperately needs.

    She claims Aspie, I think? but she is way more BPD than Aspie. I think like many borderlines she clings to other “diagnoses” as a way to provide a cohesive self-identity . . . and getting on the Autism spectrum gives you a whole thing, you know?

    Only someone with a borderline personality would post that photo.

  14. Suzie says:

    I am now riveted, reading her blog. She’s suffered alot of abuse throughout her life. It’s amazing she’s come as far as she has. She wrote about the need to “tell all” because of all the awful secrets she had to keep as a child. Heavy. I hope she gets help. Poor woman!

  15. Suzie says:

    She has a book coming out in February.

  16. carolyncastiglia says:

    I like all of the supportive, understanding comments here. PT is definitely not stupid, for the record.

  17. Suzie says:

    Yes…she is not stupid. I can see that. It really is the whole “smart woman / foolish choices” thing…and she’s damaged. Not her fault. Like I said, the fact she’s had the success she’s had is pretty amazing.

  18. Manjari says:

    I would never let anyone hit me, either. I think part of the reason for that is that I was brought up by loving parents who encouraged me to voice my opinions, stand up for myself, etc. I can’t put myself in the shoes of someone who internalized a completely different set of messages in childhood. I don’t know what that would feel like, or how I would be different from the person I am now. I agree that it’s tragic that she isn’t able to do better for her kids. I’m just not sure if I do better because I am any better at parenting, or if I do better because I’ve always been luckier. It seems clear from her blog that she isn’t stupid. I sincerely hope that JTTH is on to something, and that this is a first step in the process of leaving.

  19. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    I don’t know who this person is. I’ve never heard of her, however, reading her blog doesn’t sound like my idea of entertainment. At any rate, it could all just be attention whoring bullshit anyway…

  20. Suzie says:

    He blog actually is both entertaining and insightful. I am picky about blogs, too, but hers is good.

  21. Blondie says:

    I posted a comment on her that she has not approved. I find this very curious seeing that she has posted a blog update and is apparently approving other comments. Here is what I wrote:

    My Mom was married to man who beat and screamed at her for 10 years. By the time I left the house at 17, I hated her fucking guts. I hope you will fix this so that your kids don’t wind up hating you too.

  22. carolyncastiglia says:

    Well, I can see why that one might have cut to close too home and how it could have been worded more delicately, but I understand where you’re coming from.

  23. Blondie says:

    Cuts too close to home? She posted a picture of her naked buttocks! And there are other f bombs posted on her blog. I just have to wonder what her motives are with this…

  24. Herb says:

    “The world (okay, the blogosphere) knows Trunk is obsessed with having drama in her life – she’s built her career on it.”

    More specifically, she is obsessed with getting attention. Nothing, including abuse, is worse than being ignored.

    This story, like nearly everything she writes, probably starts with an ounce of truth followed by a ton of exaggeration and distortion. Her husband is a blogger also. Not a chance in hell that he didn’t read Part I of her abuse mini-series. Yet even after being publicly accused of a monstrous crime, he let her back into the house. (It’s his family’s house, and they are not legally married, so he could have easily just changed the locks.)

    Two possibilities: He’s an idiot, or he accepts how Penelope is playing her readers.

  25. sarah b says:

    Penelope deleted the comment I posted on her blog so I’ll put it here:
    “This is clearly a joke/ploy. You’re just trying to get more page views/clicks and want a buzz. congratulations. You got a mention in Gawker/Jezebel. Enjoy the extra money that those page clicks brings.” Look, we’re in a recession. Penelope doesn’t have a REAL job and needs money so she sensationalizes something, creates drama, and gets the attention she predicted she would get. Hell, I’m writing this comment as a first time commented so it even worked on me. What I don’t think she understands is that this RUINS her credibility on so many levels. She’s trying to make a career out of giving ‘career advice’ yet she claims to be in an ABUSIVE relationship? If you can’t get your personal life in order to the extent that you let a MAN HIT YOU and stick around while you have CHILDREN in the picture, you have NO business giving anyone advice about anything. (If this is indeed true and she is really being abused, then I apologize for my harsh words but she KNOWS she needs to get the fuck out. I can’t believe she wasted time writing a post on it, instead of calling the police or even calling a FRIEND to help her get her mind straight and figure out a strategy plan). SECOND, another reason why I’m sure this is all a HOAX is because she POSTED this PUBLICLY, and people know where she lives. The farmer aka the guy who HIT her, KNOWS about her blog and reads it. You think he’s going to be OK with her putting this out here? Apparently, one commented CALLED the police to go to her house because this person knew Penelope’s address and Penelope commented “The Police came, but I defended the farmer.” It sounds like a freaking LIE and HOAX and she’s as bad as Tim Feriss now, making up lies to create buzz. Not suprisingly she has a BOOK COMING OUT in 2 MONTHS. How very convenient. Penelope, you are so 2005. Please go away. Get your shit together. If it was just about you, I wouldn’t give a shit, but you have KIDS, small CHILDREN!!! Be responsible. I honestly don’t get how she doesn’t get that this totally ruins her whole BRAND of giving out ‘career advice’. I will never read her blog again.

  26. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    “I just have to wonder what her motives are with this…” Setting the stage for her future in divorce court, is my guess.

  27. jenny tries too hard says:

    This “let a man hit you” bullshit is really disgusting. “Let a man hit you” is victim-blaming right up there with telling a rape victim “you let yourself get taken advantage of” and it comes from the same place, the need we women have to tell ourselves that WE won’t be victimized, because we “have our personal lives together” and “won’t let a man hit us”.

    Oh, and the other reaction that DV survivors have in common with sexual assault survivors is here, too—She’s a liar, and crazy! Let’s not wait and give her some benefit of doubt, see where she goes after she makes her initial outcry, see what the Farmer has to say about what happened, let’s just all reinforce what she’s apparently heard her whole life and tell her she’s wrong and stupid and crazy and has no credibility and her whole career is ruined because she “let a man hit her”.

    This world makes me sick sometimes.

  28. Suzie says:

    JTTH is right. Also, she *is* staying in a hotel after all, so she sort of did leave him…in a first step of separating herself and the kids from him. I am intrigued to see her next move. I do not think (contrary to my earlier post–now I’ve dug into her blog) that this episode means her other ideas, advice, etc. are all without merit. She’s just a person with some knowledge sharing the knowledge she has, and doing it in an interesting way (good writing, etc.)

  29. QuinnCreative says:

    Once I realized I could not help Trunk, I quit reading her blog. I don’t give advice unless asked (and she wasn’t asking). I began to see the world through her children’s eyes and realized she was recreating the horror of her earlier life, just with a different pencil. Some people don’t have boundaries, and it is more acceptable today, when we all live our lives in the open. But I didn’t want to participate.

    For her children’s sake, I hope she finally chooses therapy, and finds a safe place for her children. I feel sorry for everyone involved. Everyone is the villain in this story; everyone is the victim. It’s a tragedy that will repeat until someone dies. I’ve seen it before, and this time, I’m walking away, knowing I’m helpless.

  30. Allan Bridger says:

    Penelope Trunk’s blog is the pits. Narcissitcic, set-absorbed and very, very odd. She now claims to have self-diagnosed herself as having Asperger’s and uses that to excuse her behaviour (especially telling her kid to get $&^$). I also note that in her early blogs she says “I was in New York on 9/11″, which became over time “I was just three blocks away from the twin towers when they went down” to “I was in the twin towers”. Absolute fruitcake. I also note she still claims to be syndicated by 200 papers, gets I have yet to find her column anywhere in the states in any paper or their online sites.

    Crazy woman. Wait for the breakdown.

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