The Room Next Door

room next door

room next door

Must have been around 9 p.m. when it began. Shouting rattled our hotel room.

My husband turned up the volume on the TV as the argument continued, peppered with expletives. I picked up the phone.

“Yes, there’s a hostile conversation in the room next door. Well, I think it’s next door. Can you check? It’s really loud.”

We waited. The yelling permeated the walls. My husband called this time.

“Will you send someone up to our floor right away? Sounds like a fight.”

I stood on my toes and watched through the peephole. A man in a uniform appeared and knocked on our neighbors’ door. “Security. Open up.”

A sing-song voice answered. “Everything’s all right in here.”

“Open the door!” said the security guard. He knocked some more, but the door was shut tight and the yelling inside escalated.

“He’s gone!” I said as they guard left. My husband held our wide-eyed son.

elevator going down

elevator going down

The voices cut loose, cursing and screaming. Then we heard what sounded like fists punching a feather pillow in staccato jabs. Thump, thump, thump! 

I grabbed the phone again. “This is the third time we’ve called! You have to do something! Call the police! It sounds like he’s hitting her!”

Through the peephole I watched four officers rush the hall.

“Police!” Bang, bang, bang, they pounded on the door. “Open up!”

“I’m scared,” said our son.

Finally our neighbors opened their door. A middle-aged man dressed in pajamas marched out into the hallway. The police checked his identification.

glasses and cup in the hallway

in the hallway

“Who’s in the room?”

“My wife.”

“Were you yelling at your wife?”


“You argue with your wife a lot?”


“You ever hit your wife?”


An officer entered the room. Minutes later, he came out of the room, released the husband, and the police left.

Guess she didn’t want to press charges. No law against punching pillows, right?

clean up, exit

clean up, exit

The room next door was quiet the rest of the night, but our room lost sleep.

Our neighbors were gone by morning. Our business-class hotel was apologetic. No harm done, right?

You keeping things on the down-low? Think no one will ever find out what’s done in secret? Don’t kid yourself.

Sin is never a private affair.

Our behavior impacts those around us. Boils over. Burns bystanders as well as those in our line of fire. Leaves us all in dire need of redemption.

You spread out our sins before You—
our secret sins—and You see them all. Psalm 90:8 NLT

In America, one in four women and one in nine men will suffer physical or emotional violence at the hands of an intimate partner (Centers for Disease Control, 2008).

If you or someone you know is being abused or is an abuser, please reach out for help. Contact local authorities, your pastor, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

What does it mean that secret sin isn’t really secret?

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Filed under America, women's studies

8 Responses to The Room Next Door

  1. Wow, Aimee. Thanks for posting. It makes it all the more real. Bringing pain into the light is bold, is necessary, is healing for many.

  2. Lara

    My prayers are lifted up for them both. I pray that she is safe and realizes that she is valued and loved by Jesus. I pray that he realizes his error, decides to stop, and repents. Only God can stop this cycle of violence.

    Proud of ya’ll for caring enough to call. Many would just turn a deaf ear…

    • Thanks, Lara. That’s part of the problem, people ignoring it or failing to report. We think it’s none of our business, but it ends up impacting us all as a society. Your prayers are precious. Only God can change hearts.

  3. As the wife of a hotel worker, thank you, in so many ways. Thank you, first and foremost, for calling, and letting front desk know. If anything happens about this event later (whether pressing charges, investigation, anything), your report will be on the call log, as a permanent reminder of what happened.
    Also, thank you for shedding some light at something people often forget, and something often grieves employees. Front desk is, unfortunately, unable to do anything in most cases like this. It’s horrible and awful (but on the other hand, it does protect privacy rights in a twisted way…). But as it is, all they can do is have security check, and if the situation is grave, call the police.
    And thank you, thank you, thank you… for bringing up the topic of domestic violence. In Hungary, it’s normally dubbed “violence within the family” – however, one politician once said “I’d rather call it violence behind closed doors; because I can’t call it a family if such a thing can happen.” It is one of those things that just never comes out, mainly because of the victim’s self-blame cycle. These women and men often feel – whether because of their own emotional instability, or because of the other partner’s power over them – that they “deserve” the beatings, that they are not worth anything better. And this is – in my opinion – where any help should start. To let these people know they are worth more and better, they do deserve to be treated with dignity, they aren’t subservient to someone else. But probably this is the hardest part to overcome… Maybe by raising awareness, friends and family can notice the signs earlier, and nip this tendency in the bud – before it gets to where it got next door.

    • Thank you for your insight, Nusy. I feel for hotel employees. I had never considered the difficulty of this situation for them until we encountered it. There are no winners in domestic violence.

      • Just a few days after your post, I found a video on a Hungarian site – it was apparently a finalist in Cannes in the Young Directors category. It’s actually a PSA made for an anti-domestic violence / women’s rights organization, and it even has English subtitles. I thought it fit the topic really well:

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