Oh, dear. In my short life I have borne witness to far more than any one lady should. I have quite the collection of scars and memories, as well as notches in my belt. I have experienced tragedy and I have seen it in others. I have come a long way since, what I refer to as, the dark ages. The days of dwelling on the past and trying, with all I had, to make sense of the shit-piece of a life I was living.
As a 15 year old girl, I will have you know I was in the very beginning of the dark ages. You see, it likely began at 14, when I was unequivocally sexually assaulted. This resulted in my losing trust from a boy I thought of as my best friend and truly thought I loved. Of course, I was a silly child, who isn’t possibly capable of such “adult” feelings (insert eye roll here). I told no one of these events and sorely kept them to myself, to manifest into deep-rooted self hatred and promiscuity.
15 is when I began my concert sequence. I would attend upwards of 2 or 3 shows a week. It was my thing. There wasn’t much else for me to do. I was a cheerleader (its quite uncharacteristic of me, I know) and a gymnast. These were the things I enjoyed doing, they were my only taste of normal. I would wear this normalcy around my neck like a medallion for years to come.
The year of 15 was spent explicitly denying requests from boys to partake in their “relationship” traps. I was not interested in being a victim or a prisoner, thank you very much. I was just fine without any sort of male presence in my life. A friend I made through the concert scene was relentlessly interested in pursuing a relationship with me, however, he had once dated a friend of mine and that broke my rules. I would not let a boy come between my best friend and me. That was just stupid. He wasn’t even cute.
He was so insistent, though, that he went as far as to request permission from his ex (my bffl) to ask me to be his girlfriend. I said no over and over again. I did not want to be involved in these tricky games. I wanted to retreat to childhood and safety. He assured me constantly that I could trust him and that he loved me and only had my best interest at heart. He insisted on being my “protector” of sorts. I eventually gave in. Being with him came naturally and, though I wasn’t exactly attracted to him, I did really like him as a person and I even convinced myself I loved him. Maybe I did, to be honest, but I don’t anymore.
That boy got his hands on me and he grasped on so tight that I could barely breath from the get go. It was horrible of me to do anything before considering his feelings. This was, of course, absurd, but I didn’t understand that. I just thought I was being a bad girlfriend to him. I wasn’t terribly motivated to be any better, though. I continued feeling like a failure to him, and he continued to make me feel as such. He eventually became so mentally ill that he was convinced his life was a total waste. He had no foresight; no ability to project into the future and imagine what might become of him someday. His loss of hope turned into rage and he was often in an explicitly violent mood.
I became distant and elusive. I did not want to absorb his negativity and I did not want to upset him worse. I would retreat to the solitude of cyberspace where I could hide behind the anonymity of a user name. I made some friends I could be fully honest with, since they would never actually know who I was. It was merely an illusion, but it gave me the opportunity to imagine these were my real friends, looking out for my best interest.
The strangers offered insight. They conceded the fact that I had been raped during the aforementioned sexual encounter preceding the dark ages (up until now I wasn’t fully sure what that was considered). I had been bombarded by accusations of promiscuity following the event in question and I was beginning to believe them. These strangers with no faces were all in agreement that there was no doubt about it, I had been taken advantage of. I was reassured that I should not blame myself, but I didn’t hear that part. I was happy to know I was not at fault for simply being a rotten person, but I still felt quite rotten.
The strangers had interesting things to say about my relationship. They recognized it as emotionally abusive. I was blind to these cues but they were certainly present. It was true that I had bruises around my wrists often. It was also true that I had sex with my boyfriend more than I might actually want to and it was equally as true that he was rougher with me than I would’ve liked. These truths scared me and I started to see them myself. It wasn’t clear until an outsider suggested it, but it was always true. He was hurting me in more ways than just emotionally. Unfortunately these small signs were not enough. I tried to explain to him that he was hurting me and that I needed to be handled with care.
He was ignorant of my claims and requests. He was trapped inside his head by some darkness of his own. He stayed entranced for the remainder of our relationship. It was my birthday when he first really hit me. We had been out all evening celebrating and when we got home, he was very irritated. According to him, there were multiple reasons. As far as I was concerned, he could get over them for my birthday. I wanted to have a nice night with my boyfriend. I was trying to convince myself everything was great and that we were happy. It was like a perfectly timed wake up call when he grabbed me by my shoulders and slammed me into the wall. When the painting fell down over my head, I was afraid I might not get a chance to run away this time.
The physical pain was nothing compared to the feelings of helplessness and an utter loss of control. I would have endured a thousand blows if it meant I could have walked away with even an ounce of dignity and self respect. But alas, the events of that evening were the kind that leave you in a funk. You know, like when people know something is wrong just by looking at you? Of course, the marks left behind were very telling, but my words were all too forgiving. The truest thing I sad about the occurrence was that nothing of the sort would ever happen to me again.
That much was true, at least. I left the quarters of the beast who harmed me that very night and in well enough condition to take the bus, 2 trains and another bus home alone in the middle of the night. Upon my arrival at the home of my family, nothing happened. I waltzed right in the front door, needing hide nothing, up the stairs and locked my bedroom door behind me.
I may have cried like a sad, scared little girl, who couldn’t find her favorite stuffed animal that fights the bad dreams away. Its also fully possible that I devised a plan that evening that would fully eradicate my newly proclaimed arch nemesis from existence. Though, in all honesty, the only proclamation that night was one of my own independence. I was no longer a part of this explicitly abusive relationship. I was now on my own; ready to fight any objection on my former partner’s behalf. To my delight, he was more than willing to keep his distance following his demise. I warned him that his presence would be cause for great outrage at my home and he never once attempted to come back there ever again.
I think of this as my graze with domestic abuse. I recognize that many women spend years, and some of them their whole lives, in situations like these. Some people are born into situations like these. I was lucky enough to avoid having excessively violent parents. Sure, they hit me and it took a toll on me growing up, but they were never vicious or vindictive. They were only ever trying to discipline me. I feel deeply for women who are trapped in relationships like these with men who try to hold you by your neck up on a pedestal; convinced you are their perfect prize of a trophy. Or worse, that you are their defective gadget of a possession.
There is much more to this story, of course. This man was more than a mere run-in with danger. He was a presence in my life for a long time and I like to think of his entrance and exit as grand moments of self-discovery. He first stitched himself into the fabric of my being as a destructive piece of a moshing puzzle.