How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Writer Elisabeth Finch Appropriated Her Wife’s Traumatic Past

In January 2019, Jennifer Becker, a registered nurse from Kansas, arrived at an Arizona mental health treatment center believing she would never see her five children alone again. She suffered from severe PTSD from everything that had happened in her 18-year marriage. No one understood what she knew, but she couldn’t articulate for so long: that Brendan was an abuser and an expert at cheating, in the original sense of the word. In his small liberal community in Topeka, most people saw him as a loving father with the right values. While she was working at the hospital, “the best nurse I’ve ever worked with,” says a former colleague, he was a member of the grassroots advocacy group Indivisible, often picketing with the kids in tow. But behind closed doors, he controlled Jennifer’s every move, she says, and was physically and sexually violent. At his insistence, she explained her bruises and broken bones as the result of falls in the shower or down the stairs. When she told the others the truth about his behavior, they couldn’t believe it. Her line was that she was mentally ill, suffering from postpartum depression and making it all up. He told her that if she revealed the truth “she wouldn’t make it.” Fearing for her life, she obtained a protective order against him and filed for divorce from her. This forced him out of the house, but he moved close to her and made sure she knew he was watching her.

All of that led to the disturbing incident that landed her in the Arizona treatment center. She began to have dissociative episodes: breaks with reality and the environment. On December 27, 2018, a date that is etched into her brain, she was driving her car with two of her young children strapped in the back. Then she, suddenly, unaware of her, she stopped the car, opened the door and walked a certain distance. A few minutes later she came to and panic swept through her. “Where are my children?” Hysterical, she immediately called the police, who were understanding. Within minutes, the children were located and she was reunited with them. The next day, she was called to the Office of the Child Protective Service (CPS). Believing that she was safe, she shared what had happened. But after her, she was informed that CPS was charging her with child neglect. She was psychotic, Brendan told people, and now there was proof. With divorce proceedings looming and everything on the line, she checked herself into a mental health facility to prove that she was sane and a fit mother.

The woman sitting across from me in a Topeka coffee shop on a rainy March day is extremely frail and soft-spoken. There is a service dog at her feet to help her with ongoing PTSD. However, as she progresses, she seems the antithesis of what Brendan tried to paint about the outside world. She is warm, eloquent and emotionally intelligent. Which is part of the reason she’s afraid to tell her story: she’s afraid of the repercussions, afraid of appearing so gullible to the world. But that’s also why she knows she has to do it. She wants to make sure that the person who attacked her can never do that to someone else, and that person wasn’t Brendan.

The Jennifer Beyer who entered treatment is a far cry from the Jennifer Beyer of today. Then it couldn’t work – a walking live wire. She couldn’t sit with anyone or make eye contact. The mere sound of a door startling her, a sudden noise that would send a flash of panic through her body. In her little therapeutic “process group,” she couldn’t talk about everything that had happened. Beyer was afraid of what this meant, she maybe she really was hopelessly crazy.

The therapists, particularly one named Carly, began to understand what had happened to her. According to Beyer, Carly realized it was PTSD with dissociative episodes, and she was determined to do whatever it took to get Beyer back to her health, even if it took her months. The disturbing news from home did not help. Brendan had been arrested and had vandalized an emergency room. The children were sent to a foster home, but after a few days, they would have to be separated. They broke up with Brendan’s mom.

About six months into Beyer’s stay, a new resident named Jo arrived and became part of Beyer’s process group. Jo—the first name of a Grey’s Anatomy character that elisabeth finch was investigating, was also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, he said. Her friend was one of the victims, she explained, and according to Jewish tradition, Jo had helped clean the body from the synagogue floor. For Beyer, Jo’s PTSD signs began to look exactly like his own. Jo had to sit alone when she was in a large group. Jo herself couldn’t make eye contact or sit by doors, she couldn’t deal with sudden noises and had trouble talking about the details of her trauma. The similarity gave Beyer comfort. After all, if someone like Jo, who had told people that she was a professional writer and that she didn’t seem crazy, was having the same challenges, maybe Beyer wasn’t crazy after all. The two women began to speak. And talking. For the first time, therapists saw Beyer laugh, she recalls. Jo suggested that they become roommates. It wasn’t the norm for two people in the same process group to become roommates, but the staff could see how beneficial Jo’s friendship was to Beyer’s healing. As they drew closer, Beyer noted that as the trauma of Pittsburgh receded, yet another was in Jo’s view: that her brother, Eric, had been cruel and violent to her as a child, something she had never seen before. had dealt with so far. It was another similarity, Beyer had Brendan, Jo had Eric, and she brought them closer together. (In response to detailed questions for Finch with respect to information from multiple sources, your attorney Andrew Brettler held that not all of Beyer’s claims were true and asserted that Beyer was neither “trustworthy” nor “impartial” because the two women are in the midst of a “highly contentious divorce”).

Family weekend was coming up and Jo’s parents were planning to visit her. Two of Finch’s compartments were about to meet for the first time; it would be necessary to tap dance. First, Jo needed to explain the whole name thing for her. She revealed to Beyer that she was a major writer in Grey’s Anatomy and that she was using a pseudonym so that word wouldn’t get out. Jo said that she had given her parents the same explanation before her arrival and asked them to address her as Jo, not Elisabeth. At the first meeting, when Jo spoke about Eric’s cruelty during childhood, Joan and Robert listened, bewildered, Beyer recalls. Sure, there had been fights between brothers, but they hadn’t witnessed any of the suffering she was describing. Still, Joan was soothing Finch’s perception of her childhood. The next day, Joan talked about how much she had cared for her daughter over the years, about her cancer, how she wished she had been there for her.

Cancer?

It was the first time anyone in treatment, including Beyer, had found out. Finch said yes, he was living with cancer, but he didn’t want to talk about it. Beyer respected that. Like Beyer, Jo lived with enormous pain.

Carly, of course, had been in possession of Beyer’s phone and had been receiving all kinds of angry and obsessive text messages from Brendan. If a message seemed relevant, Carly would sit down with Beyer and read it to him, which Jo seemed to find interesting, says Beyer. Now a video came in of Brendan saying, “I’m coming to get you.” Beyer met with the head of security. The staff arranged to increase security in the facilities. And then, in another remarkable coincidence, Finch claimed that Eric was getting close to she. His parents had left a family photo album upon his departure. As Finch said, she was just flipping through it and inside it she found a letter handwritten by him, threatening her. Beyer saw Finch holding this letter, but she did not ask to hear the details. There was so much fear of men that Beyer could handle. (Eric Finch and his parents did not respond to Vanity Fair.)

By early July 2019, both women were ready to leave the center and return to their respective villages. The staff had been in the process of helping Beyer get a service dog, to help her be there when she had episodes. The dog was expensive. Finch interceded and asked Carly if she could pay for it. Beyer was deeply moved by this parting gesture. He solidified a deep connection. The women had an emotional farewell. They made plans to keep in touch, not to let their friendship die.

Finch returned to Hollywood and began to fill in the contours of his newly recovered trauma. To a friend, he explained the threatening letter found in his photo album, which read, “Keep your mouth shut.” He added an ugly and specific detail about Eric’s abuse, a detail that was identical to something Beyer had confided in him that Brendan had done to him when they were married.

Meanwhile, Beyer returned to Topeka and oh how she missed Jo, the name she kept using for her friend. She moved into a shelter, unable to see her children except for an hour a week under her supervision, and she faced numerous in-person dates with Brendan in court, the idea of ​​her terrifying her. Brendan continued to mock her. He now posted photos on social media of random places near the shelter, indicating that he knew where she was.

Finch captured Beyer’s love just when Beyer needed it. He invited Beyer to stay at her home in California, a beautiful expanse of which he had seen photos of her in her room at the treatment center. It was just the escape Beyer needed. The house was in Ojai, the most heavenly place he had ever seen. There was a large gate at the entrance, a beautiful large garden with orange trees and a swimming pool. Beyer wondered how he could afford it all. Finch told her that she was Anna Paquinof the house (that was true), but that she owned a part of it. (Finch does not own part of Paquin’s home, a source confirms, nor does Paquin have anything to do with Finch’s kidneys.) There were a couple of black cars on the street. Finch claimed it was security, a luxury he had at all times. The couple spent the weekend cooking, swimming, lounging, laughing and falling in love. Dozens of selfies of their love were taken. Wouldn’t it be great to make a slideshow and send it to Carly to show her how happy we are? suggested Finch, who talked a lot about Carly that week. And later, she sent it. “The joy I felt that weekend was unbelievable,” recalls Beyer.

When Beyer returned to Kansas and the shelter, Finch love-bombed her with text messages and sentimental gifts, including a purple stuffed kidney. As they discussed the future, Finch underscored the importance of honesty, writing in a text he channeled to Shakespeare: “My expectations are and always will be these: don’t lie to me. That’s all I ask… It can upset or discourage us and even hurt us. But the truth will come out. Always.” After Brendan, Beyer was afraid to ever get close to anyone again. These were the exact words she needed to hear.

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