Is is just a coincidence that Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the same month we celebrate monsters and nightmares in the form of Halloween? It’s no coincidence that I refer to my domestic abuser as a monster. I’ve had my share of horror in real life; I prefer it only on screen now.
It has been fifteen years since I limped into a police station and told the nice police officer exactly how he tried to kill me. That final night, I had two black eyes, a split lip, legs and arms scraped raw from when he pulled me out of the car by my hair over the broken window glass, bruised ribs, purple remainders of ten fingers on my neck, and more bruises than regular skin everywhere else. The police took pictures. I think I’m glad I don’t have copies.
I was sore absolutely everywhere. It was two days before I could turn my head without wincing from the claw marks and bruises. It would be many more nights before I could sleep. The only way I could get the stockings off that were glued to my legs with dried blood was to soak in the bathtub. I stayed there in the red water until it got cold.
I can still instantly recall the terror of that night. When he was actively trying to kill me, and later on, when he was shouting to me and the police standing in my living room that he was going to kill me. He meant every word. I’ve been scared a lot in my life, but as an adult, I cannot recall another time when I was as transfixed by fear.
Have you ever experienced someone trying to kill you with their bare hands? The threat of death was scarier than the reality, much like a movie that forces you to use your imagination is scarier than a movie that shows CGI effects.
I was far more terrified sitting in my living room with the police, waiting for him to break in and listening to his death threats, than I was earlier that night when he was actively trying to kill me. When he had me off the ground with both hands strangling me, I knew I was about to die. I had been expecting it for months.
When he was choking me, I was resigned, but something changed when I held a physical copy of a police report that said in a stranger’s handwriting what I couldn’t admit to myself. I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long, long time: hope.
Sitting in my living room that night, listening to him search for another weakness to exploit, I suddenly panicked at the thought of dying, like a regular person should. Right then, I knew it was the end. I wouldn’t put up with it anymore and I didn’t.
That was the last time he ever touched me. Even though he fled the state and was never prosecuted for his crimes, I take solace in the fact that I never saw him again.
So, if you know what I mean when I say I was resigned to die, if you know what that calmness in the face of death feels like, I want you to know that it is not the only way. Buried in there, under all the other stuff he put there, find the hope.
If you are in danger, please, get help. In the US, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 (TTY 1−800−787−3224). You are not alone.