" Next time I'll be braver Ill be my own savior when the thunder calls for me.."
|Introduction to Domestic Violence
It’s as if they stained my palms red, marked me, so my past is undeniable. I just want to forget about all the bad stuff so its like it never existed. People get this nasty perception that I must have been stupid to stay in that situation however it is easy to form that opinion when you aren't living it…. This is my shadowbox. My confessional of everything that happened over the last few years that I can remember. I can’t determine for myself whether or not there is truth in saying that given the difficulties and heavy losses of the past years, my current mental condition is expected. Astronomical amounts of loss, some which will not be documented here that went ungrieved. I suppose it was my doing to shove things down further and further rather than deal with them head on right away. Someone said I was just jumping from one fire into the other with no re-cooperation time for a few years running. Their probably right.
Im not going to get into a life story here, thats somewhere else floating around the Internet in bits and pieces. I’ll start here: Things at home where not the greatest while I was growing up, and so when I hit 18, I moved very quickly out on my own and into an apartment with my boyfriend at the time. Someone should have told me at that age that it was a recipe for disaster. But he wasn’t a bad guy, and that young we where probably just playing house anyways. Things where fine between us. Our work schedules kept us away from each other pretty consistently until the weekends came. I worked mornings then, and he worked nights.
One particular evening, after we’d been living in this apartment for a few months, I came home from work and Chad had just left for his job not all that long ago. I’d pulled in the parking lot behind our building and there was some middle aged man under the hood of his truck who’d said a casual hello to me as I was getting out. I’d asked if he was having car trouble, which was probably my foolishness, talking to someone twice my age. According to him he was from out of town and for some reason his truck wasn’t starting. He’d been looking at jobs and apartments in the city, and just his luck, his truck died. He didn’t know anyone from the area and asked if I knew the number for a tow. Not off hand obviously, but I said I could bring a phone book down if he needed it.
Our phone at the time was a regular land line phone upstairs in the apartment, we lived on the 2nd floor of some run down building. He’d asked if it would be okay to come upstairs and use the phone and the phone book, and how it was actually lucky of him to run into me because he’d been wanting to get in and look at the apartment building I was living in anyways. He’d seemed okay to me at this point, nothing creepy or weird and our city wasn't exactly known for crime at that point in time and I thought it would be okay so I let him come up with me.
But it didn’t take to long once we got upstairs. The whole time the guy had been saying Thank you to me, and how much he appreciated me giving him a hand, and making comments about how nice the complex was on the inside. ( Which I figured was just him being polite, the place was a dump. I wasn’t making alot of money at 18.) I’d only gone so far as to show him into the kitchen, point out the phone and open the drawer where I kept the phone book. From there it happened really fast.
I have alot of trouble remembering everything in detail, I suppose because you are so scared when something like this happens all you can do is feel panic and disbelief that its happening to you. Getting knocked to the floor and told that ” If you shut up, I won’t hurt you.” Hearing that is like an instant death sentence, nothing from here in is going to be good. His hand was on my neck and my clothes where coming off my lower half. I yelled something, and was digging my nails into his hand and after getting slapped enough for that, or the hand around my neck choking me at the same time, I just layed there. ” I told you to shut up, dont make me hurt you.”
That man raped me on my kitchen floor and when he was done he dragged me into the back bedroom, punched me a few times and told me that if I told anyone, he would come back and kill me. Now he knew where I lived, and I was in shock and my body hurt and I felt like I couldn't breathe I was crying so hard. He left me there bleeding and in tears, ripped the phone cord out of the wall and took it with him.
At some point after this I dragged myself into the shower and stayed there crying, trying to was off the feelings I was feeling to no avail. I stayed there until Chad came home later that night, the shower water was freezing cold by then and I think Id probably been in there for several hours. He had no clue what was going on.
I wouldnt talk or tell him what happened until the following day. I don’t know why, maybe I was scared and ashamed and thought I would be blamed for letting this man into the house when there was no one home. Of course, when he found out, we filed a police report and he tried to comfort me. Comforted me for a while and then a week later I came home from visiting my parents after all this to find he had moved all his things out of our apartment. I remember standing in the door way, he was packing up the last of his things, and I thought I was dreaming. Or this was some horrible nightmare and I just didnt understand what was happening at all. I remember distinctly how he was looking at me, with this sort of vacant expression that seemed so unfeeling to me, ” Im sorry but Im done. I have nothing to say to you. I just can’t be with you knowing another man had you–you’re dirty now.”
Seeing his things missing had been a kick in the guts enough, those words after everything I’d already been feeling from what had just happened to me, everything I had already been thinking–I think my heart fell into my stomach.
They never found the man that assaulted me, and because of that, gradually my parents began to question if it had ever really even happened to me. If it had, why did Chad leave? If it had, why did you wait an entire day to tell anyone about it? I guess because I was crying hysterically.. I moved back home with my folks shortly after that despite their disbelief in the events. I certainly was not going to stay in that apartment alone after what happened. I slept on a mattress in the basement on the floor. In my absence my room had been made into an office for my moms new job doing medical transcription. My parents wouldn’t speak to me about what happened after that, and we all just went on pretending like I had lied about the whole thing.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, pick up the pieces and move on. I learned that fairly early on in life, and almost mastered it.
This was my crash course and intro into Domestic Abuse 101, and how very violent and controlling relationships can become. Andy was a sensitive guy heading to school for business management. He was a fairly avid poet, and horrified by my experiences. At the time he was dealing with his own break up. We comforted each other for months after all this, right into each others arms it seemed. I was empathetic to his poor treatment by his ex Nikki who’d cheated on him for over a year with him never really knowing for sure that she was, but suspecting it until she accidentally pocket dialed him while she was in the middle of getting freaky with some other guy. ( Really horrible thing to hear over the phone, Im sure.) His relationship with Nikki left him, as I was to find out later, a bit paranoid about being cheated on again. Our relationship ended up being no exception to this.
We moved in together in Sheboygan for about a year. Things where amazing, we where the best of friends. We did everything together, almost 24/7 and we loved every minute of it. We never really fought about anything during that time. We moved to Madison together to go to college after talking about it for a while. In Madison, we live in the same apartment, just the two of us in a fourplex. We where going for different degrees which ended up that his campus was on one side of the city and mine on the other. We where both pretty bummed we wouldnt be in the same school, but we managed. With full time school and part time jobs we got to seeing each other less and less. When I started talking about the friends I had started to make in my classes, and yes some where guys, something slowly began to change between us.
Andy got more and more suspicious of who exactly I was making friends with.Originally I had thought maybe he’d been getting angry over the idea that he could ” Lose me ” to the friends I was making in college. Simple jealousy turned into tongue lashings. I can’t recall all the names I was called, all the ways I was belittled, or how my feelings came to be so invalidated so I was no longer even questioning whether I was the bad one or not. Everything was my fault. That demon on my shoulder hissing just became routine.
One day I had told him we’d all gone across the street for lunch between classes, he snapped. He accused me of planning to leave him, and pushed me into a wall. He apologized right away, and ” Didn’t know what came over him.” And because he’d never done anything like this before, and in my eyes we where still best friends I believed him. I thought that maybe he was acting this way because we where spending less time together and because of what Nikki had done to him. So I went so far as to arrange for he and I to go out one night with this group of friends so we could all be friends, and maybe he’d feel a little less anxious about everything. The whole time we where out he was clearly unhappy, even though I stuck to him like glue and tried to engage him in everything. The plan back fired and made things worse.
After that he would start showing up in the middle of all of my classes and sit outside the door until class was over to see who I was talking to and what was being said. I was no longer able to ” Hang out ” after class with anyone, I would go straight home with Andy. He actually ended up failing all his classes that semester he was so preoccupied with lurking outside all of mine to even show up to his classes. I had one friend, Michael, who’d caught on to what was happening and was trying to talk me into leaving because Andy’s behavior was getting so strange. My professors had pulled me aside on several occasions to ask about what was going on and if I needed them to do anything. I said no, because I was still in this method of thinking that he was just that traumatized by his experience with his ex, and I didn’t want to nurture that by ” Betraying him,” as he put it.
His tone was consistently harsh and cold with me. Always belittling and suspicious. Eventually he took my apartment key in some attempt to monitor when I was coming and going from the house in his absence ( When he had to work.) Because we didn’t live in the best neighborhood, I would refuse to leave the apartment if I couldn’t lock the door, so I would sit at home all day. If I told him that he was being controlling ( Which was probably an understatement by now ) things would get physical. It started out as pushing and shoving, then turned into slapping.
When my car died in the middle of January, I was at his mercy as far as going anywhere. Michael picked me up one day after Andy had spun the car out in the snow, blamed me for his spin out ( I’d turned on the radio ) and forced me to ” Just get the fuck out” of his car, and walk 10 miles home in ankle deep snow. He offered to let me stay with him, and even take my cats in. And I was starting to really look at the idea as something that had to happen. My understand to Andy’s paranoia and sympathy for what he’d gone through with his ex was spent. He’d called my cellphone when he realized later that night that I never went home. He was crying and apologizing and begging me to come home. ” If you just come home right now, It’ll never happen again. I dont want you to spend the night at Michaels or I will never be able to get over it. I’ll think you did something and you wont be able to convince me otherwise. You have to come home. Please come home.” So I went home, even though after that phone call, Mike spent at least an hour trying to convince me I was being manipulated and needed to stay with him. I think I was just hoping maybe he finally really would stop.
Got home, and Mike left. Not to long after Mikes headlights left the driveway, he shoved me to the floor and started punching me. ( This is the first time he punched me.) Then he started in with the screaming, ” You would spend the night with him?! You where going to fuck him, I know you where! You fucking whore!” Of course, this was not true, nothing like that ever happened between Michael and I. Michael had a girlfriend at that time. But there was no stopping it. There’s me, crying and telling him it wasn’t true. All this calling me a whore has started to make me believe maybe I am a whore, and just hanging out with people is grounds for that accusation. He tells me to ” Prove it.” ” Take your pants off and lay on the bed for me.”
I was so scared at that point of what he might do to me if I Didn't listen, that I did what he told me. I felt sick. I absolutely did not want to do it, and having him tell me too somehow made me feel violated, even though we’d slept together many times. It was degrading, but I didn’t want him to punch me again my head was still spinning. He took me there like that, while I was still crying and when he finished he forbid me from seeing Michael ever again. The next day I woke up to being locked inside our bedroom and ended up missing school. What ensued where so many instances of me ” Missing School ” that I had to drop out.
I was 4 hours away from home and unable to call my parents without his supervision. I had no friends because he had taken every opportunity to keep me from making them in this new city.
On another evening he found out I’d been talking with someone I’d met via the inter web about getting out of this situation. ( I was basically making Internet friends now, as I was never leaving this house unattended.) He’d come at me like a madman, and started in on the beatings that had now become routine. I ran to the bathroom with my cellphone he’d left out on the counter by accident. Like so many other times, he chased after me and grabbed the door before I had it all the way closed. His fingers where in between the door, and on every other occasion he was able to out arm me and pry the door open. This time I hit the floor and kicked the door shut with my legs. I fucked up his hand pretty good, but I got the door locked and called the police. God knows what the cops thought, Im on the phone and he’s screaming through the door that he’s going to kill me, and trying to break the thing down. The police showed up real fast, even thought Im sure I was almost impossible to understand. I was hysterical and my heart felt like it would beat right out of my chest. They pulled him from the house and put a no contact in place. I don’t know if he did jail time or not. I didn’t hear from him again, amazingly.