The scourge of domestic violence is not limited to traditional male-female or other intimate human relationships; it may occur between a person and reality itself - at least that's what 28-year-old Newport, Rhode Island resident Regina Bartwell believes.
Bartwell recently filed for divorce from reality, claiming "gross, vindictive, unwarranted, unfair and totally ridiculous levels of violence" throughout the course of their relationship. If Bartwell's claim is successful, the legal victory could hearken a new and wide-ranging cause of action for men and women everywhere.
Bartwell's attorney, Dustin Greene, explained that the first hurdle he and his client will have to overcome is proving that a marriage between Bartwell and reality does in fact exist. However, he expects that they will easily manage to satisfy that burden.
As Greene explained, "Rhode Island recognizes common-law marriage. That means that even though there was never any formal wedding ceremony, the fact that Regina and reality continuously cohabited for practically her entire life, and at the very least from the age of 19, when she stopped smoking pot, should sufficiently demonstrate their intent to be wed."
Bartwell's divorce petition goes on to detail the nature of the domestic violence perpetrated upon her by reality. For one, the petition notes that at the age of 24, Bartwell was actually struck by lightning, sustaining severe injuries.
"That's clearly above and beyond an acceptable level of physical danger," asserted Greene. "The odds of being struck by lightning in any given year are less than one in 775,000. Thus, for Regina to be subjected to this form of natural violence was clearly beyond the realm of reasonable risk of harm."
In addition, Regina was fired from her job in 2006 for dressing inappropriately; she'd been regularly wearing leggings to her "business casual" workplace, despite multiple warnings regarding the inappropriate nature of her attire.
"Legally speaking, that certainly constitutes domestic violence and probably even sexual harassment," opined Greene. "The fact that her termination was directly related to her wearing of tight-fitting and, in Regina's case, highly flattering, clothing demonstrates a malevolent intent to repress her sexuality and hamper her freedom of expression."
Greene added that had the employment termination occurred in 2008 or afterward, it could arguably have been chalked up as an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of the 2008 financial crisis. However, given that the firing took place well prior to the economic downturn, all evidence suggests that the termination was personal and vengeful in nature.
Since that time, Bartwell has had a string of low-paying jobs that barely suffice to meet her daily expenses - and a series of low-earning boyfriends. Most of Regina's romantic relationships have been with men who are students, chronically unemployed, deadbeats, or mentally, physically and/or emotionally handicapped - and one was eventually revealed to be pedophile. In addition, during two consecutive years, Bartwell's tax returns were audited by the Internal Revenue Service and she was compelled to pay an additional $12,000 to the federal government.
"It makes you want to just say to reality, come on, give this poor woman a break!" exclaimed Greene. "And she has said that, in the form of prayer and mantras and other appeals to the universe. But without any effect."
For that reason, Greene ultimately advised Bartwell to take her case against reality to the courts. In addition to dissolution of marriage, Bartwell is seeking lifetime alimony, along with $3 million in restitution for her years of pain and suffering.
In a rare personal appearance, an impassioned Bartwell announced, "I can't wait to be divorced from reality. I may not be the first person to notice that reality completely sucks, but I am the first person to do something about it legally. And I'm proud of that. It's time someone took a stand against reality."
While Regina has admitted to having flirted quite a bit with fantasy over the years, she claims that she's been completely faithful to reality throughout their marital relationship.
"Once we're divorced, though," she said, a suggestive twinkle in her eye, "the only thing I'm going to be true to is my dreams."