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Friday, March 1, 2013

The Silence of Abuse

The room was dark. Moonlight filtered through the window panes and a summer breeze made the curtains flutter in the dim light. The hallway was a maze of twist and turns and my legs felt like rubber. Regardless of how hard my heart pounded inside my chest, I could barely make my legs move. Sweat poured down my face. My hair stuck to my cheek obstructing the view when I quickly glanced over my shoulder. I could feel him, I knew he was there, I knew he was close, but where. If he reached me.... Dear God I couldn't let him reach me. I whipped my head back around and continued to run just as a hand reached out to grab my wrist.... My wrist, it was always my wrist... Like a rag doll he threw me over his shoulder and said...."I will take you someplace no one will ever find you."

Slowly I opened my eyes from the nightmare I'd been having for weeks. The sunlight peeking through the blinds would have been cheerful if I wasn't in such a dark place emotionally. The temptation to roll over and cover my head with the blanket seemed so much better than getting dressed only to spend the entire day looking over my shoulder and trying to avoid being caught off guard and alone. The battle began at 8 a.m. and would last until I could finally close my eyes only to have the nightmares return, deepening the fear and repeating the loneliness I felt during the day. How had I become so entangled in such a mess? I didn't have time to figure it out. My first priority had to be  getting out of the mess... I could analyze it later. As I got dressed I noticed the bruises from earlier in the week had began to fade. The stress of the last few weeks had not only eaten away my self-esteem, but also my appetite. I had lost a lot of weight, my parents were starting to notice, even my teachers had questioned me, but humiliation kept me silent.

The day sped by without incidence. Now, if I could only make it to my car without being caught. My best option was to duck my head and make a run for it, so I started down the steps to the sidewalk and.... There he was. I had nothing to say, my focus was on keeping as much distance between us as possible... I didn't want any more bruises. We had been going through this routine for days, and it was wearing on me. I just wanted him to keep his hands off of me and leave me alone. He pleaded, he begged, then he would get angry and threaten, if possible he would reach out and grab me again. I had to keep the distance or put something between us. His words were vile and full of hatred, his actions desperate. "No one will ever love you,".... "You don't have any friends.".... "You'll be sorry for leaving.".... I got to my car and opened the door before he could grab and yank it out of my hand. My hands were trembling as I locked the door and prayed the car would start. He stood outside the window, pleading, pounding, then blocking so I couldn't pull out. I looked down at the steering wheel and for a split second I thought... "Just run over him.... It would end this."  The  thought scared me to death... I was obviously at the brink, something had to give. I Wasn't going to be his victim any longer. Finally, he stalked back toward campus and I drove home wishing I had someone to talk to. Strangely it wasn't the bruises that woke me to the realization that this was not a healthy relationship... It was the isolation. I used to have friends.... Before him.... But, he would get so mad when he saw me talking to someone I had isolated myself to prevent his outburst. Now.... I felt very alone. Fearing no one would believe me anyway, I vowed to win this battle on my own, in silence.

It was the end to a long week. I felt like Pac Man, constantly running through a maze, trying to avoid the ghost that would gobble me up.  Earlier in the week, he caught me in the library doing research for the school newspaper. I looked up and he was sitting beside me. The pleasantries didn't last long when he reached out to grab my elbow. I dug my fingernails into the skin on his forearm as deeply as I could and raked them all the way down... "You're not going to hurt me again" I told him as I gathered my books and walked out. That was the first time I fought back. When it first began, I was so shocked, I didn't do anything. It had progressively gotten worse and became more frequent. Abuse wasn't something I was familiar with, I couldn't  fathom my dad raising a hand to my mom. When I looked in the mirror and saw bruises on my arm, I was humiliated and embarrassed. This was not the life I wanted to live. Like a fly caught in the web of a spider,it wasn't until I began to remove myself, that I found just how tightly I had been ensnared. It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders as I headed up the empty staircase to class. My restless nights made it difficult to get up in the morning and I was running late. I looked up just as he rounded the corner of the landing. I tried to keep distance between us as we passed, but he reached out to grab me. When he swung me around to face him, I doubled my fist and slammed it into his jaw. God how I wished I hadn't hit like a girl, but sadly I'm afraid I didn't pack much of a punch... Still, he stared at me in shock for a second, then told me to go to hell....I looked him dead in the eyes and said.... "If that's where I have to go to get away from you, I'd be more than happy to go there." He dropped my arm and I continued up the stairs in stunned silence.... He never touched me again.

Rome wasn't built in a day and the architecture of an abusive relationship is one that is craftily built with slow precision and deliberate intent. Like myself, humiliation and shock kept me silent as well as the belief that no one would believe the fun-loving guy on campus, could be abusive and destructive when no one was around. If you are a young woman in a abusive dating relationship, seek help, don't stay silent. 
  • For more information on this subject of dating abuse, try the following links

I'd like to thank the artist of the amazing sketch, Sarah Renee Torres. When I told her I wanted something original for this post, she was excited to jump on board. We also discussed the content of the blog. I asked her if she knew anyone who had a similar experience. She said she did, and like myself, it wasn't something they talked about, it was just something you noticed as it evolved. She encouraged me to publish the post, hoping to encourage young teens to stay alert to signs they may be in a unhealthy relationship.

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