The saying goes “there are always two sides to a story,” but with this story I’m telling there are three sides. This is my personal story about my brush with domestic violence. There is the story and point-of-view of people in front of the eye- they are out looking inward, there is my story- behind the black eye and there are the situations and statistics of domestic violence that are above and overlook the black eye. This is difficult to write because I know some people will not understand and some will even be apathetic to it because they feel superior to this situation. Thankfully I’m not writing this for them. I can not help someone to understand something that they feel superior to. I am however writing this for the people who are sympathetic having dealt with this before or are currently walking through this hell and also for those people who are empathetic. Most of all I am writing this for myself. Me writing this down makes it permanent and makes it impossible for me to forget or for me to “black out” these situations. It is difficult because I am exposing a weakness and also exposing maybe some unfavorable details of my actions. Maybe this will help someone in this ordeal and help someone give comfort to those who feel alone. Hopefully my black eye is dark enough to scare other women from moving in this direction.
In Front of The Eye (what they say)
These women are crazy. They can definitely do better than the men they are with. They don’t need these men, why even stay? I would never just LET a man put his hands on me. I don’t see why they just let it happen- they didn’t fight back or anything? She couldn’t put him in the hospital or SOMETHING!!? She didn’t have an uncle, cousin or friend that could have whooped his ass? And to top it off she stayed… why didn’t she just LEAVE? She doesn’t have anywhere to go? I would have gotten my homeboys, my cousins or someone I knew to put hands on him. I feel sorry for any dude who even makes me THINK he’s going to touch me. Well what did SHE do wrong? Guys don’t just haul off and hit a woman for no reason. She was probably crazy. You know women are crazy. You know these girls DESERVE it sometimes. They always say women like that have low self esteem and no confidence. Shit, I’m the shit and I know it. No dude is gonna bring me down. I have too much going on to let a dude mess it up. I also just couldn’t see how publicly you could be in love with hug and kiss this man when we ALL know that when you close the doors those same arms that hug you will choke the hell out of you. I JUST DON’T GET IT.
Behind The Eye (what I say)
Its kind of funny (or probably not). When I first met him (as my coworker) I couldn’t stand him. I thought he was full of himself and just plain old corny. I often wonder what would have happened had I kept that observation and steered clear. First impressions are always right. No matter how we rationalize to make it untrue…it’s always true. But instead of moving with my initial repugnance, I let another coworker convince me to get to know him. Game over. Then I was just infatuated. And then after that it was all over, I loved him. I mean he did fit my physical “prototype” not too tall, not too short, dreads, cute, nice style… oh goodness… I was just ripe for the picking. We had some things in common. Whatever we didn’t have in common always brought up good convo and good times. He was funny and fun as hell, charming…very charming and I liked how he moved. He was country, DEFINITELY a hard worker, he took care of his daughter (even from a great physical distance)…there were just many things that were great about him. Call it being naïve, young, an optimist, or being non critical of others, but I saw no warning signs.
Oh but the warning signs were there. They’re easier to see from here but back then “love” clouded my vision. Don’t know what kind of cloud it was because the signs had 50 flags and were neon bright. I didn’t evaluate the flaws. The first thing that comes to mind was his jealousy. It wasn’t the cute jealousy, it was always over the top. Just speaking to another guy and being sociable was a crime. He said that I always gave guys “the eye.” His irrational moments of being upset were also another sign. I swear that if I stepped in the wrong direction he would get so upset. And the punishment was silent treatment for days. And anything that happened was always my fault. Never in the time of knowing him had I ever heard him admit wrong doing or admit to over reaction. He would always say that he treated me better than “those other girls” that “they were just hoes,” but the truth is he didn’t. We NEVER went out… I mean never. There was one time, maybe two but it was a group function… better yet a work function. How could you say you treat me better and yet we never have gone out. True there were times I had been invited to cookout of his family member, but I soon found out that I wasn’t the only girl privy to that outing. I was no different, I was no more special. The only reason I felt different and higher up on the totem pole was because of his words and manipulation and that was all he needed to keep me tagging along. WARNING SIGN.
I still don’t get it. I was not myself for an entire year and change. My pride won’t let me say that I loved him more than myself…but in evaluation in a way I did. He could’ve killed me…whether intentionally or accidentally. ..and I still said in my head that if I stay through all of this there’s no way he’ll be able to say that I don’t love him. It was like I was trying to prove myself to his ass. And for what? I don’t know why…he wasn’t worth more than 5 minutes of my attention. I wanted to prove my loyalty to him even though we wasn’t loyal to me. I was so involved in everything him. I wanted him to be happy, I told myself that I would do my damnedest to never tell him no. I did things that I would have never done prior to meeting him and things I only shake my head about now. I was his “ride or die” (I mean I told myself these things). He would have another woman’s car and I would drive it…things like that I am embarrassed to admit to. This all occurred before we moved in and they were all major warning signs. I chose to ignore them. I was in denial. When it comes to matters of the heart you let nothing stand in the way. You just want your heart to feel good.
I always heard that you never really know someone until you move in with them and that is some real shit. When we signed the lease to the apartment that shit not only hit the fan but it ricocheted into my mouth. The moment we agreed to sleep under the same roof (in different rooms because of course according to him we weren’t OFFICIALLY together) things changed. Literally at the snap of a finger. As much as I wish I could say we had more good times than bad in that house it was the opposite. We had beams of good times, nothing compared to before we moved in, but there was a dark cloud over that house.
You know men they can do as they please but how dare us women to do the same. He could bring his latest fling in and have her sleepover and have sex with her literally above my head but just as soon as he found out I did the same, it was all over. Probably the scariest moment of my life. It started as an argument that didn’t make any sense to me because I blamed my “disloyalty” on his roaming dick. Of course he denied it, rather just kept omitting the fact that he was having sex with women to my left and right and front and back. (And I mean I could physically see these women to my left… and right… and front… and back). And to be honest as I write this I don’t remember too many details because a lot of things he’s said and done I have blocked out. But what I do remember was the first blow.
He paced from his bedroom to the bathroom, back and forth… saying that he couldn’t believe I would do that… “not my girl” he said. I put you above all the other girls he said. “Yea I do me but you and me were supposed to be different.” The look of confusion on my face would’ve won an Oscar…confused as a demon holding holy water. And I remember thinking, so I was just supposed to keep accepting him messing around but only keep myself available to him? I was supposed to be miserable watching him flirt with girls KNOWING his intentions with them? But even while thinking this I begged… yea begged for another “chance.” This definitely had to be my lowest point. He paced back to the bathroom again and threw up in disgust at me (HA!)… and I shook my head in disbelief thinking damn did he really care for me? How could I mess up like that? (Blaming myself) No matter what I said afterwards he did not want to hear it. I guess he really got tired of hearing it because his first blow was to my mouth. Well the blows after that were quick. I don’t remember how many, but it threw me off guard and knocked me down. I do remember trying to retaliate but lets be honest a man who at the time was training for boxing was going to straight up whoop my ass. At one point I remember trying to go for the knives in the kitchen which in retrospect wasn’t a good move because if I was already losing, who’s to say he couldn’t grab the knife and stab me? And if you knew him like I know him, being cut on his way to grabbing the knife would’ve just further pissed him off. I didn’t make it to the kitchen because he grabbed me by my hair and began trying to pull me down the spiral cast iron stairs in our apartment. I held onto the rail for my life. For some reason I felt that if he got me down the steps I would be done for. In a not-so-quick moment it was over. I’m not sure what stopped him but whatever thought came over him or whoever I had looking over me at that time really saved me. I lay down at the top of the steps crying and covering my face…in a daze. And who the fuck knows what he did. I think he grabbed a drink. But out of all of that probably the most scary 5 minutes of my life, and after a busted lip and bruise to my eye all I could remember was him throwing up because he was so upset that his girl stepped out on him. In my head that meant he cared for me. Needless to say, no, I didn’t call the police, I didn’t call my homeboys, I didn’t call my cousins, I didn’t call my father and I didn’t leave. I stayed. I let him carry me to bed and go down on me. It was like a damn scene from the movie “Baby Boy.”
Of course I got an apology. We entered the “honeymoon phase” that all the domestic violence cycle wheels warn about. These were the most confusing times for me. How could a man so manipulative, controlling and angry be so tender and thoughtful and helpful. I found myself falling in love with the honeymoon and constantly trying to work towards that or keep him happy to extend that phase. Contrarily it never lasted long. There would be moments of happiness I guess. We shared interest in Caribbean culture so vibing to music, going out to eat Caribbean food, having a drink and laughing, watching movies. Sometimes he would gift me money, clothes or shoes. That was usually it.
Most of the time “I started stuff” and the honeymoon phase never lasting for long. For the rest of the time I walked on eggshells. I attempted not to care that he was flirting and having sex with other women. I threw myself into the “wifey” role. I was the only one to cook and tried my best to make him happy. Suddenly his usually moody self would just pop. One time he asked to borrow money and at the time I said I would oblige the loan. Well some bill came up that was more important that I paid which meant I could no longer give him any. He literally tried to choke the money out of me. He strangled me until I passed out. You would think (at least I thought) he would have mercy once I awoke but that didn’t happen. He continued to verbally abuse me and threatened to physically abuse me.
One time before that we had an argument (the specifics of the argument fail me) and I tried to leave, with no shoes on and only socks I tried to grow wings and fly out of our apartment only for him to stop me, pin me up on the door by my throat and strangle me again causing me to pass out. That first time he choked me I remember was scarier than the black eye episode. During black eye episode at the least I was aware and conscious the entire time. When I blacked out it was an unsettling feeling. I woke up out of darkness heart racing, head dazed, looking around to try to recognize my surroundings and I didn’t know what happened… I couldn’t even remember how I got on the floor. I awoke on my back on the floor and he in the kitchen cleaning as if was just an uneventful evening. He didn’t lift his eye, his head or a brow when I passed him to head towards my bedroom. No apology.
The final straw for me took place one Sunday night. It was my little brother’s first night over my place and I had even invited his friend so that he could have fun while over. I figured he would give me a break being that there was a minor in the house but I figured wrong. That night I had three strikes against me. Strike one is that I had refused him money– again. Strike two was that I showed up at a party where he was. The actual issue was that the person who held the party was rumored to be dating me and the rumor was correct. We had gone out a couple of times and he was courting me. It didn’t sit well with him at all. What really didn’t sit well with him was that everyone was talking about it. He will say that the guy was a “clown” but he treated me so much better I didn’t care. Strike three was that I did not come home that weekend. I remember my brother and his friend were eating and playing video games upstairs and I was in my room eating. The next 20 minutes was very unusual, even for him and very scary. He kept coming downstairs to ask me where I had been that weekend and when I didn’t answer he would go upstairs and I would hear him pacing. This happened twice. He then paced out of my room into my bathroom and back again asking if I would loan him money. I refused again (in my mind I was trying to stay strong). He came in my room after leaving out again and asked me if I thought that having my brother there would make a difference. I swear his eyes did not blink and they just beamed through me. I didn’t answer I just looked at him. In that instance I wanted my brother and his friend out of there. I got up to go upstairs and tell them to pack their things so we could leave. Before I could reach the door he pulled me back and pushed me on the bed. I got up and looked at him in his eyes and dared him. He pushed me back down again and demanded that I “give him some.” I hopped up again and tried to leave. He kept pulling me back towards him. I was fighting him trying to keep him from pulling my shorts down and lifting my shirt up. Every time he would keep throwing me down onto the bed. I felt him give up and I ran towards the steps to tell the kids to pack their things. My brother yelled down asking what was wrong scared because I had tears in my eyes. I tried to pack my things but he kept grabbing things calling me a ho for not coming home and he started to throw my things outside. I told him I would call the police and he said do it and to get the fuck out. And I did it. This night scared me the most. I had no idea what would happen. This was the most erratic that I had ever seen him be. He threw the cat dish at me and continued to wreck my room. He backed me into a corner and pointed his finger in my eye and then on my forehead. He told me that he would find me and that we would have some girls fuck me up. Every time I tried to come out of the corner he just kept backing me into it. I had no idea of what to do. I was afraid. He let up off of me again and told me to get out. I finally got myself, my brother and his friend in the car and rode around the block until the police came and escorted him out. In retrospect I shouldn’t have had my brother come over. Thinking about it more however if I hadn’t I probably would have stayed in this situation. I was more protective of my brother than I was of myself.
Above The Eye (what the texts say)
Domestic violence includes physical and sexual violence, the threat of physical and sexual violence and also mental and verbal violence. A third of women nationally (30.3%) have experienced violence at the hand of an intimate partner at some point of their lifetime which includes a slap, push or shove. However a quarter of women nationally (24.3%) have been exposed to SEVERE violence by their partner which includes a blow by a fist or object. To put these statistics in real time every 15 seconds a woman is beaten. This means that by the time you have read from the beginning of this paragraph to this upcoming period 2 women will have been beaten. And this only includes the abuse that is reported. Police have reported that an alarming 40-60% of the calls received are domestic violence cases especially during the night shift. This affects women of all ages, races, economic positions and cultures but the women at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence are those from the ages of 20-24. 40% of domestic violence incidence happen between unmarried couples. About 960,000 of domestic violence cases occur a year .I fit every statistic just mentioned. Click here for more alarming statistics.
Men who are abusive are usually very charming in nature and are usually sociable and personable effectively making it difficult for people on the outside of a domestic violence situation to believe allegations of a battered woman. Because of this, statistically the general public will automatically blame the woman in such cases and are more likely to believe the man. The reason a man abuses a woman is because he asserting control and dominance over the woman. The first time that I REALIZED that he was using his abuse to CONTROL me was during a discussion we were having of him accusing me with being too flirtatious towards other men. While we were arguing he would maliciously raise his hand as if he were going to smack me but instead would make a gesture of rubbing his beard. He did this multiple times within this conversation. And what he did next hurt the most. He laughed. Whenever I flinched as a reaction to his hand motion he smirked and laughed.
I tried to be a generous and selfless person and please believe he took FULL advantage of this. I would let him borrow my car to hang out. Some nights I wouldn’t see him, not until the next day. Talk about control I would lend the car on condition that he return it by a certain time because I wanted to go out or for whatever reason. It’s laughable now that I thought he would respect my request when he didn’t respect me as a person to begin with. Some days he did and some days he didn’t. It was a textbook case of domestic abuse. He not only used the car to control me but also financially tried to control me. There was another instance in which he choked me out. We had another argument over money. He wanted to borrow money and I told him no. That was a problem for him. He asked me why and reasoned that the money I had was not for anything. And I remember saying I want the money for myself. I hadn’t treated myself to anything in a long time. I had no new clothes, manicure/pedicure, hair or anything and believe me living with him I definitely needed to be treated. I remember him asking for what girl? Ain’t nobody looking at you, nobody wants you. And that hurt. I knew in my heart it wasn’t true but for some reason it really hurt. Needless to say me standing my ground made him even more relentless. As we were arguing about MY money and I was sitting on a stool by the kitchen he lifted me off the stool by my neck and choked me, yet again. All I remember is waking up on the floor leaning on the stool while he was cooking in the kitchen. I am ashamed to admit it, but yes I do believe once I pulled myself together that I went to the nearest ATM and gave him MY spending money.
After The Eye
It took a long time to bounce back from this. The damage was done in a matter of months yet the recovery took about 3 years. Financially it even took a toll. I left the job where I was working and gave up the apartment where I was living and was stuck with any bills associated with it. Over a few years in my mind I would always see him around the city but in reality I doubt that I even came close to him. For weeks, after I left I could never keep still. I would drive just to drive no destination in mind. I would sleep for maybe 3 hours at a time. It was as if I was running, well maybe I was. I though that if I kept moving he couldn’t keep up with me, couldn’t find me and anyone he would try to send after me couldn’t find me either. I gained about 25 pounds over the next few months. I withdrew from a lot of people many friends that I was close with. I definitely cut off anyone that knew us both. I left the job where we both worked. I left our apartment and moved to a family member’s house that he didn’t know the address of. I felt as if no one understood. Friends and family looked at me with disappointment and confusion. (cue the words of “In Front The Eye”) I just wanted to disappear and that’s what I did. He could not find me, I tried to make it so that mutual friends or coworkers would not find me. No social media for three years. For a long time I wouldn’t go out to eat or to a club or anything. I remember waking up having anxiety attacks. And they were the worse. Imagine erratically waking up in darkness with a heaviness and helplessness feeling like someone was sitting on your chest smothering you with a pillow. Not being able to see because you’re not able to stop crying. Not being able to pour a glass of water because your hands were shaking so badly. It was horrible. It is a horrible feeling.
When I came to grips with getting myself on track I came out of hiding. I started going out more, started opening up to people and being more social. I started a NEW page on Facebook and even friended people that I knew would be friends with him. I knew sooner than later he would find me and I was ready when he did. After some time and courage I was able to talk to him and even met with him a few times. Eventually over a couple of years we talked a little regularly and even tried to see if something (a relationship) could come out of us. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS STEP BACK FOR ANYONE. Thank goodness it didn’t happen. It was a mental struggle for me. I AGAIN found myself thinking of the honeymoon phases of the past and wanted those days back. What wouldn’t allow my mind to continue that daydream was the thought of the days of tension. The charming words he used this time around would not survive the harmful and hurtful words he used in the past. It was something I could not get over. He said that he was a changed man, and he very well may be but I will never find that out. The disrespect he showered me with carried too much weight. So now I am grateful for my memories. Never again will I take that step back. It was an unfortunate life lesson.
Sympathy Turned Empathy
After my situation I could never judge another woman’s position again. I can never try to imagine myself in her shoes. I do no know her story or her history. I will hope she comes out of the situation alive and values herself and her life (her children) more than she values him and whatever judgment she’s embarrassed to face.