The first time he hit me was with a pillow. We were sitting on the edge of the bed arguing over yet another one of his unjustified accusations. He was questioning where I had been all day and who I was with. I looked down at my work clothes; biting my trembling bottom lip in frustration. Moving my focus from the ruffles on my favorite green shirt to the tips of my leopard heels, I braced myself for whatever version of war we would engage in next. His words were like bullets, piercing through my skin until they reached the hollow point of what was left of my self-worth. The verbal abuse, which had been going on for two years now, was worse than ever before. It was only so many times that I could hear “dumb bitch”, “worthless whore” or any other colorful and equally disrespectful adjective he so graciously used to describe the woman he swore he loved. Deciding enough was enough, I reached for my purse and began to prepare to leave when he picked up a pillow and started towards me. Swinging the pillow with all of his might, he hauled off and slapped me so hard that he knocked me off of the bed. I don’t know what I felt more, surprise, hurt or rage but whatever it was, I couldn’t do THIS anymore. What happened next is a blur or at least I wish it was. I jumped up, crying and screaming as he charged at me, threw me to the ground and began kicking, hitting and choking me. This went on for what seemed like an eternity but couldn’t have been more than a few minutes. He stopped and looked at me, hazel eyes wide, as I gingerly touched my bruised neck and swollen mouth. I quietly picked up my purse, making sure to tiptoe past the white elephant in the room, and walked out the back door. He followed me, almost in tears himself, and whispered the biggest lie he’d ever said next to “I love you”. He said “I’m sorry.”
Several years and countless tears later, I will have survived the hell of emotional, verbal and physical abuse at the hands of the man who said he loved me. I will begin speaking out against this devastating epidemic, vowing to use my pain for the purpose of raising awareness and healing others. One day, I will walk to my closet and grab the hanger holding the green shirt that was once my favorite. I’ll take a deep breath, thinking briefly about the last time I had worn it (hmmm…with my leopard skirt?) and toss both the hanger and the shirt in the nearest trash can. Looking at the ruffles peeking over the brim, I will close the lid and walk away without looking back. Why should I? It didn’t fit me anymore anyway.