Is Sheryl Gascoigne A “Woman Who Loves Too Much”?

by Annie Kaszina on June 25, 2008

In his day Paul Gascoigne (Gazza) was widely regarded as one
of the most talented UK football players of his generation.

But it all went horribly wrong. During his short marriage he was often violent towards Sheryl,
his wife. An insider is reported to
have said: “he is still haunted by the violence. It’s what began his demise
into drink and drugs."

Now he vows that he will never be violent towards her again
and she has promised never to leave his side, but to ‘be there for him every
step along the way’ on his journey back to health from alcohol addiction. 

According to Professor Richard Hammersley of Glasgow
Caledonian University:

“Sheryl has a long history with Gazza and it will
be incredibly important to him that she has decided to help him. She knows all his faults, has seen him at
his worst yet she still loves him enough to be there now. If someone is very down on themselves and
they get support from someone who has previously rejected them it can be an
enormous help
.”

Lucky Gazza.

But what about Sheryl, now
deservedly being cast as the loving, selfless heroine of the piece?

She may nurse him along the
journey back to mental health, but will it benefit her own mental health?

Let us not forget that Sheryl
was a battered wife. This recent news
suggests that she is still exhibiting the characteristics of a battered wife:
the self-sacrificing love, the willingness to keep working at a relationship,
the belief against all odds that there still can be a happy ending…

Can
it happen?

Anything
can happen, but the odds are stacked against them. A more hard-headed woman than Sheryl would
look at Gazza’s past treatment of her, factor in his long history of addiction
and mental illness and, in all probability, run for the hills, fast.

Let
us not underestimate the trauma that Sheryl experienced in her relationship
with Gazza. Now she is taking on a
major burden of the responsibility for his healing.

If he
reverts to his old, self-destructive path the devastation she experiences will
be beyond all measure. It will, of
course, be a repetition of the past. It
will also be confirmation that she could not ‘save’ her man, that her love was
not enough, that she was not enough. She’s already received that message before, how much harder will it be
to hear it again?

All
too often women who are battered by their partner report them to the
police. And then these women take back
their same violent partner.

Of
course, the cycle of violence is repeated again and again. Sometimes it ends with the woman’s
death. Sometimes, the man limits
himself to verbal and emotional abuse, which is also hugely damaging, although
there are no physical marks to show for it.  In most cases the cycle of misery is repeated over and over
again. This can be irritating for the
police and maddening for the victim’s family.

Outsiders
say: “How can she be so stupid. She’s
probably as bad as he is. She must have
done something to deserve it.” They
find the whole scenario too uncomfortable to look at.

In
the case of Paul and Sheryl Gascoigne, because a number of years have gone by
and the spectacle of his physical and mental deterioration has been pitiful,
suddenly Sheryl looks like a saviour. (So do a lot of abused women, actually.) Suddenly, the whole sorry situation becomes a touching story of
Love Against All Odds.

But
here’s the piece that most people don’t get to see, the behind the scenes
action that leads a frightened, hurt, devastated woman to commit once again to
a dangerous relationship. The partner
reappears, apologises, says he must have been crazy to hurt the woman he loves
l like that, and vows that he has changed and it will never, never happen
again. He tells her how much he needs
her, how he can’t live without her.

(Is
there anything here, perhaps, that is reminiscent of the Gazza story?

Most
commonly, of course, it does happen again.

Some
women die because of domestic violence. Others spend years and decades living with the trauma, or repeating the
same pattern with other abusive men. Because that is all they know.

The
love of a good woman is a wondrous thing. But surely that ‘good woman’ deserves a good man, rather than an
emotional wreck with a past history of addiction and violence. Why would a good woman settle for so much
less than she deserves? Why should she
continue to be a caregiver and surrogate mother?

Where
is the help for Sheryl in all of this, apart from the odd tabloid
headline?

Previous post:

Next post: