Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Telling My Story: Lifeline

This is Part 4 of my story.
Part 3

Towards the end of the relationship, some kind coworkers invited me out for dinner and drinks. I knew my abuser would be angry if I wasn’t home on time, so I was reluctant. Our boss let us leave early so I could enjoy a fun evening. She wanted me to have that. She was the same one who later referred me to WEAVE. It was a miracle I wasn’t fired from that job, but she showed me kindness and I’ll never forget it.

I had a great time until I realized I had missed the last bus home and would have to call him for a ride. I panicked. He picked me up, furious, and drove me home. Not knowing what was going to happen, I told him I was going to take a bath and locked myself in the bathroom. I got a few minutes of “peace” until he came knocking. This wasn’t “the” moment I knew I had to leave, but it was one of my first moments of clarity about my situation.

The turning point may have been the night he came towards me in the middle of a fight, fist raised. It was the first overt threat of physical violence. I backed away, and he cried and asked, “How could you think I would hit you?!” He left the room and I sat in the dark, frightened and alone. I knew I needed to keep the peace in order to stay safe that night, so I apologized and comforted him, all the while wondering what the hell to do next.

I wanted to be rid of him, but I felt trapped. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I was confused and ashamed. I had spent so much time defending him and our relationship; I didn’t think I could do an about-face. I was afraid of how my family and friends would react. Would they help, or would they say, “I told you so,” and leave me on my own?

One night, I simply couldn’t pretend any longer. He left for the evening, and I called my parents. I nearly chickened out, but I finally told them the truth: things were horrible and I was afraid.

They responded perfectly, with love and compassion. They did absolutely everything right. I didn’t know it was possible to feel fear and relief simultaneously.

My parents told me I could come home whenever I wanted, and coached me through an escape plan. I didn't leave that night, but for the first time, I felt a glimmer of hope. After feeling nothing but dread for so long, I had a lifeline.

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