I hate writing about this. I want to be the person who just turns it all into some passion that a symphony of words just pours out about the whole thing. But all I see is the gritty. The pain. The shame.
We’ve all seen 13 Reasons right? If you haven’t, go watch it. That’s the real world. Maybe not the tapes. But the pack mentality, the anxiety of being a teenager, the never ending impending doom that is high school. That’s all real.
I was in the last half of my senior year and I had never felt lower. I should have been excited. I wasn’t. After spending years and years wishing I could get out of that place, that tiny town, I was experiencing very much a Hannah period in my life. I felt like nothing would ever go right. Thing after thing piled up on me. Home. School. Hannah used a razor blade. I went the long route of an abusive relationship. He literally called me slut when I walked down the hallway. And like Hannah, I had no one there to save me.
One time, my mom saw him put my hamster into his jacket pocket and throw the jacket on the ground and stomp on it. I’m a mom today. If I saw someone doing that to my kid, I would move mountains to make sure that person never came near my child again. I guess my mom chose to parent differently. I can remember in college calling his mother and begging her to come get him, move him out of my apartment, do something so I can get some peace, I didn’t want trouble, I just wanted to be away from him. If someone knew my child was doing those things, I would come get them immediately and get them help right away. She also decided to parent differently than I would.
Those were two adults in my life that could have changed the fate of what happened 13 years ago. He’s 100% to blame. But we talk about “well if only someone knew.” Yeah well, sometimes people do know and still nothing changes.
Back then, I online journaled like a fiend. Xanga was my home but LiveJournal was a little home away from home. I finally had the courage to leave him but legally he didn’t have to move out of our shared apartment because he was on the lease. I had a lock on my bedroom door and stayed gone a lot to my friend Sarah’s. I was going to ride out the summer and move out when the lease was up in the fall.
I remember this as starting out being a not so bad day. I remember we paid bills and rode together to Blockbuster and back. I remember thinking okay, the summer will go by fast, I’m taking classes, I’m working, he’ll lose interest in me and I can do this.
This was after like two and a half years straight of abuse so 13 years removed, I can see how fucking warped this was. I should have packed my shit and broke the lease and moved back onto campus. But there I was thinking I was totally in control finally. I wasn’t. I so wasn’t. When they say the most dangerous time for an abuse victim is when they leave? That is completely true.
And here’s where I falter. It hurts me to tell this story because I can see the pain in people’s eyes when I tell it. Every new doctor, because I have PTSD, I have to tell some summary of this to for my medical history. How do you condense two years of abuse into two paragraphs? Then they mark it in your chart and you get the pity eyes at every visit. I hate the pity eyes. I hate the awww poor thing.
So instead of writing it all out, here’s what I said back then on live journal.
monday nite i would not have sex with david (we are not together and are still doing horribly) he decided to throw a hissy fit and try to smother me. i have asthma so its hard to breath anyway.. then he bit me. and sat on top of me. tried to choke me and tried to crack my neck.
but ahhhh this time i got smart. i planned what i would do if it happened again (gasp, it happened before!) so i called 911. skrink-la-das, he just got out of jail tonite.
so that’s where i have been. domestic violence hell.
and yes i am ok.
Jesus Christ on a cracker. I want to hug 22 year old me because I can remember the pain I felt trying to write that in a sarcastic, I’m totally going to be okay kind of way. When in reality, my dad was sleeping on my couch and he walked me to and from class until the end of the semester.
The reality was yes I turned him down for sex and yes he flipped his shit. But after other 911 calls, my cousin who was a sheriff at the time alerted dispatch and he was on duty that night and he brought the cavalry. Too bad the DAs office gave literally zero shits about what he had done to me. It was humiliating to have him call me from jail over and over and over and they just let him. It was humiliating to sit in court with my DOVE advocate and my head held high and my lawyer waiting to fight for me all while his lawyer and the judge sat in the back talking golf. My lawyer went to find out what the hold up was and the judge only cared about my abuser’s AOL account because back then once an email was attached to an account, that was it, they were stuck forever. I still had the bruises on my body when a judge of the legal system of the United State of America ignored my legal rights for justice. The month before trial, I called the DAs office multiple times a day. No one would call me back. Ever. Not once. I remember sitting at work with my bestie, dialing that number over and over leaving message after message. Nothing ever happened to him legally. Nothing.
When I met my husband 6 months later, he was visiting for a weekend as we lived hours apart. We woke up to messages that my abuser had watched us through the windows of my bedroom. He keyed awful things onto my husband’s car and left a dead fish for him. My abuser’s new girlfriend would call and leave me threatening messages. For my safety and sanity, I moved down to where my husband was which was over 3 hours from my college. He still found me. He followed us and watched us go to a movie. I will never forget that feeling because I had no idea he was there. He could have easily shot us. When the opportunity came to move clear across the country we took it.
It was still years before I slept without nightmares.
I am hyper vigilant now. I am secretive about where I live. It’s never really over. And that’s what pisses me off. Yes I survived. Yay go me. I did that on my own. In the split second between passing out where he would have had full control, I had a choice and I took it and it worked and I was able to grab the phone and run to the bathroom and call 911 and scream before he ripped the cord out of the wall. That first call is what alerted my cousin to come out. It’s what saved my life. He was hell bent on killing me that night for whatever reason. The look in his eyes was different from other times. I have never felt that scared in my entire life. When they say time slows down, it does because I remember thinking about how my dad would feel having to find my body. I was a forensic student at that time. I remember thinking I would know all the procedures used at my crime scene. Sometimes I think if he had killed me, he would have gone to jail. I would have had to die to get a drop of justice. But I never go a day without thinking about at least one memory from those years. That’s what victims are left with. Or survivors. Whatever you want to call them. Us.
Like Hannah, I felt like it’s written all over me. Every awful thing he did feels like it’s written in sharpie for everyone to see. That’s what I’d like to go away the most. That feeling. Every year I think if I own it, if I write something, the words will all wash off and I can just be me again. 13 years later and it’s still an epic struggle, to either accept that it’s part of me or keep hoping for a cure so to speak. Maybe a middle ground where the words just fade a bit. Like scars. They’ll still be there but they’ll be harder to see.
This is the first year I have to go through today without my Sarah. My college bestie who cried with me after this day. There was no hiding it from my friends anymore after that. They knew about the fighting. They knew he was controlling. But I broke her heart a little bit when she found out how much I was hiding from her. She passed away last summer and so far today has been the day where I feel her missing the most.
I allow myself to have my one dark day and then I put my smile back on because people count on me.