Catherine Pugh, Esq.
3 min readApr 10, 2022


Mmm, laid bare? Quite true. But by whom? And how and when and why and to what end?

Tony, we have developed some very dangerous habits engendered by the "many hands" (make work light) presumption. Those bad habits DEFEAT the process, not advance it.

The first is this: we habitually discuss the problem, the actors, and the cure as if all the players engage under similar conditions. We, quite obviously, do not.

My problem is exigent. My harm can be permanent. I do not have the luxury of an arms-length "process resolution" in the MIDST of surving the other hands' abuse. And it's grossly unfair to entertain such a thing from anyone, including me.

So, yes - the root must be laid bare, but that cannot be tasked to me, just as it cannot - and WOULD NOT - be tasked to the survivor spouse in an abusive relationship.

Does the survivor spouse want the abuse to end? Yes. Is ending that abuse contingent on that survivor spouse dropping to the weeds and digging? No.

Does the survivor spouse care for his/her abusive spouse? Want what is best? As it relates to race abuse, yes. But does that mean we go to therapy together to determine what in your past drives you to hit me? No.

We go to work on the dynamics of our relationship if it is one we want to share. But the abuser has a private track, and his/her own burden, to unbury and vanquish his/her demons. That is not out of indifference or lack of commitment to a good marriage. That is because the surviving spouse CANNOT expose a "relationship" root that is really not about the relationship. The abusing spouse MUST do that work for it to be a valuable and GROW-ABLE process of trigger identification for course correction.

Once the root is bared, the couple can jointly repair and heal, but the survivor's investment and evolution is a pre-condition of relationship CONTINUATION, let alone survival.

And keep in mind that the surviving spouse (back to my earlier point of not sharing the same "observation" desk, has his/her own tasks of HEALING from his/her abuse. That means returning the burden ("we" aren't abusing me, "you" are), returning the expectation of healthy boundaries ("I'm not an outlet for your rage"), learning how to effectively identify and enforce those boundaries, learning how to effectively communicate, learning how to not self-hate as a chronic target of often violent, long-lasting trauma.

Yes, we have a lot of work to do, Yes, we have to decontruct or back out of our cyrrent quagmire. But also, YES, we have to design a new, health one that rightly burdens and benefits.

It is my strong opinion that sharing step one - "we" are fixing what "you" do - is the step that defeats us.

And I can't think of racism as an us issue anymore. I just can't Tony. I am just living my life. I have no idea what fucked up thing drives the jack nut at the carwash to call me Aint Jamima. That's not us, and I couldn't give a shit. My job is to draw boundaries and make it hurt enough until the jack nut does. Then the jacknut drives his change.

And if that doesn't work, at least I get to die on my feet. This isn't an object lesson for me. I ask - with respect - that we take care not to approach the discussion as if it is one. We are fighting to survive, honey. Saving America is the bonus, should that bonus come.



Catherine Pugh, Esq.

Private Counsel. Former DOJ-CRT, Special Litigation Section, Public Defender; Adjunct Professor (law & undergrad). Developed Race & Law course.