Warning: This post contains graphic content and speaks — in detail — about physical abuse and emotional abuse.
He was a prince, the kind of guy whose charm seeps out of every pore. And his musk, a mixture of testosterone and cologne, ended in one fatal attraction: mine.
The entirety of our relationship was not all bad, but as my mind wanders back in time I wonder: was I jaded by his scent? The aroma of arrogance and smooth words? He had a charming demeanor like none I’d ever met. He wanted me, and his timing was ideal. I was drowning in the insecurities of a failing marriage; it was as if he could detect the sadness permeating from my core. There he was picking up my broken pieces, assuring me I deserved to be loved by him.
The first time he hit me, I fell to the ground in anguish. The hot sting on my cheek filled with blood so quickly I scarcely remember what had set him off. Just that I was there, on the floor, looking up at him in utter shock. I felt no anger or fear. Not the first time. Instead, shock and disbelief were the only emotions rushing through my pounding head. Not for a moment did I believe that he meant to hurt me.
How could someone I loved so much want to hurt me? It was unfathomable.
As quickly as I fell to the ground, he was on his knees apologizing.
“Why did you come up from behind me? NEVER COME UP FROM BEHIND ME.” His voice was touching-yet-stern. And at that moment I wondered, what it was that I had done wrong, questioning his exact words.
Why did I come up from behind him?
He huddled around my crumpled and confused body, apologizing and blaming, in sentences I barely heard. I tried to replay the scenario in my head. He had been upset, about what I don’t know, and as I sought to hug him, wrapping my arms around the back of his shoulders, instantly the stern of his head whipped back and connected to my face knocking me to the ground. My cheek blackened instantly.
The first time must have been a mistake, this I convinced myself of, along with the guidance of his impute and manipulative words.
In the years to come there would be numerous instances similar to this one. Rage became him, and with each blow, the blame gradually became mine, especially as I started to fight back. But what terrified me the most was the rage I began to feel inside myself. The anger and shame, as well as embarrassment I owned for ever letting a man put his hands on me. I was becoming someone I didn’t even know.
Confusion, melancholy, and bitterness consumed me, not fear. Not like I read in books. I didn’t cower at his outbursts. Instead, it felt as though I begged for it, wanting nothing more than to show him the error of his ways.
Einstein once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” And I did just that; I continually banged my head against the metaphorical wall, attempting to change the behaviors of someone who never perceived them to be corrupt. Insanity.
It went on for years. I found myself apologizing for every eruption of anger, every war-torn night filled with screaming and shattered drywall. Every puffed chest, and threatening tone. These moments all became my offense. And no matter how hard I tried to convince him (and myself) he had become my abuser, he seemed to think he had done no wrong. That I somehow deserved it, made him do it. I truly began to believe him.
There weren’t flowers or apologies for losing his temper, no. Only explanations as to why I made him do it. A manipulation so great my mind bent completely into believing I was the crazy one. Until our last night.
There is a scar on my right wrist to remind me of the pain I felt that night as I was dragged up a flight of stairs. He had come home angry, the two of us fought with spiked words. My resentment boiled over as I watched him swell with intimidation. I wasn’t going to be pushed around anymore. As every violent moment had happened in the past, I was left with the sting of an argument rather than the memory of exactly how it had escalated. But as the fog cleared from my mind, I finally found the courage to scream at him, “GET OUT! I’m calling the police, get out!”
I don’t know how many times he pushed me, slammed my head into a wall, or how many times I was dragged across a floor while we were together. But there is no excuse great enough to ever make it my fault.
I have discovered, this behavior is one some abusers are unable to change. No matter how toxic a relationship may be, no one deserves to be hurt. That is not love.
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by a partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
If you are in an abusive relationship, please find help. You can log onto this website to find shelter in the United States: www.domesticshelters.org
This post originally appeared on RAWrWords and was rerun, with permission, in an effort to bring attention and awareness to domestic violence.