#11 Take advice from someone who knows, keep your nightie pinned to your toes

A friend of mine told me this was a saying her granny used to tell her when she was a little girl. Her granny would have been born in the early 1900’s.

A well intentioned advisory message to girls, with dark & insidious messaging to young girls about sex, pregnancy, consent & relationships, placing the responsibility firmly at their door.

Whilst condoms were developed around the 1920’s, contraception was still a fairly modern concept & considered a woman’s responsibility (as it still often is). It wasn’t until 1960 that the contraceptive pill was introduced. Access to the pill wasn’t widely available, sometimes for religious reasons.

Marriage inferred consent to sex, with marital rape not becoming a crime until 1992.

As you read the story below consider the impact on Carole’s body, mind & self esteem.

What else that I haven’t described might be causing her ‘symptoms’? 

How common was this type of relationship for women in the mid 21st Century?

What might life be like for Carole & Derek now?  


Carole, 83 & Derek, 86 married in 1959. Carole was just 19 & Derek was her first boyfriend. Soon after their wedding day, Carole was pregnant & their first child was born just after Carole’s 20th birthday. In the proceeding years Carole would give birth to 7 children before her 30th birthday.

Not all of the babies survived, but their deaths were dealt with in a very matter of fact way, no counselling & little post natal care.

Dust yourself off & get on with it.

By age 30 Carole was mother to 5 children under 10. Her body subjected to numerous medical procedures & internal injuries, she decided now was the time to start using the contraceptive pill. She was worried about side effects but Derek, 33, had refused to use condoms & not giving him his conjugal rights was out of the question.

For 10 years Carole took the pill, she gained weight & suffered from migraines. As she entered her 40’s this got worse, & she began feeling muddled most of the time. A lack of sleep & exhaustion crept up on her, & she was diagnosed with depression. The anti depressants she was prescribed made her feel worse & she would often take to her bed for days at a time.

Now in her 80’s Carole suffers from a prolapse, osteoporosis & has had 2 ‘mini strokes’. She takes a cocktail of medication including the anti depressants, sleeping tablets, blood thinners, calcium & pain relief.

She walks with a zimmer frame & has a catheter as the prolapse has left her incontinent.

Derek is physically fit and is Carole’s full time carer. She depends on him to wash & dress her, help her to empty her catheter bag & assist her to get out of bed. 

Derek won’t allow carers into their home & will only accept help from their eldest daughter, Kim. He believes family life should be private & feels strongly about ‘state intervention’.

Derek has strong views about most topics & expects his wife & daughters to align their view with his, challenge or discussion is not permitted. 

They don’t claim attendance allowance or other financial support, Derek doesn’t agree with relying on the ‘State’..

Life is tough & they often go to bed at 6pm just to keep warm. 


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