Getting Back Up
(Columbia, Mo USA)
She sat and watched the clock tick, it ticked right past the hour he was supposed to be home, and then eventually it ticked past right through the three-hour mark. As the minutes passed her heart sank deeper and deeper because she knew where he was, what he was doing, and what was going to happen to her the second he saw her face. Rather than come home to his wife he had decided to empty that bottle of whiskey down his throat, the one thing the judge told him he couldn’t do. And, just like every night, he found his way to the bar she knew nothing good could come from this night, and she found herself praying she would survive the night. She hoped and prayed that she would do everything right, that she wouldn't say or do anything that would push him over the edge from drunk to the monster that lives and comes out only to hurt. Everything went silent when she heard him coming up the walk.
As she answered the door, she made quick eye contact with him and knew it was the man that wanted to hurt her bursting into the house. She was so angry about the circumstances, but the last time she showed it she ended up with a concussion, so she kept quiet. The only way this night would end without a fight would be for her to get him to bed on the couch as quickly as possible. The same routine, get the TV on, his favorite blanket something to eat, and then ‘CRASH’ he had stumbled and fallen in his drunken state. Not sure what to call it, but she froze, thinking maybe this time we won’t wake back up until the morning and she would clean whatever filth came with it. She couldn’t get that lucky.
There is no real way to be prepared when a man three times your size slams you into the wall. Before she could react, he had her pinned against the wall with no chance of escape. He had one hand wrapped around her throat as he started screaming immediately. If she had been better he wouldn't have to disappear after work for hours; if she loved him enough he wouldn't need the whiskey, why wasn't the house cleaner, why wasn't his food ready, and how dare she let him fall in the middle of his living room like that? She didn’t want him to win again. She swallowed back the tears fighting to pour down her face all the while telling him he didn’t want to hurt her, and he loved her. With her last sentence, his other hand swung up cutting off her air supply. She didn’t know what to do, but she had a few instincts. He was bigger and stubbly, and despite her body screaming for air, she reared back and pushed all her weight into his chest off balance she pushed him until he fell to the floor releasing her. It hurt to breathe, the thinking was foggy, but she grabbed her cell phone and ran towards the bedroom and locked the door.
He made almost a feral sound as he got off the ground, no time to talk on the phone, but she dialed the police and threw the phone under the bed. As the door bursts open, she was ready to fight him off however she could. She fought so hard that she managed to climb away. He caught her as she began to belly-crawl across the floor, to stop her from moving he bawled up his fists, the same hands that had once held her when she cried, held her when she was afraid started punching her in the back repeatedly. The 911 operators could hear her as she screamed and cried, begging him to stop, asking him to remember the man inside of him that loves her so much and doesn't want to do this to her. For a split second he was there again and the first flash of a cop light it all went, and he jerked her up by the back of the hair and hit her as hard as he could in the face before fleeing out the door on foot.
She could feel the blood pouring from her mouth, nose, and other places she thought. She lay there curled up in a ball waiting for him to come back and finish the job, she felt so much pain and had no idea what was next. She flinched as she heard the footsteps coming in her house, but before the panic, she realized it was a police officer sitting beside her waiting on the paramedics. She kept insisting she was fine, but her face told a different story. They communicated that she couldn’t take a shower until they got some pictures and evidence. All she could think about was the fact he was following her still. The cop put his coat on her to ease her fear and carried her to the ambulance waiting outside. The rest of the night was questions. She didn’t want to talk about what had happened. She blamed herself and hated herself for still loving him.
She had no family, no one who would understand what she was going through, so many people would blame her for what she did wrong, what she did to make him beat her, or how stupid she was for letting it happen more than once. Another detective drove her to a place that looked like a house with a playground. A woman was waiting at the door who pressed a button and welcomed them in. She gently put her arm around the girl to let her know she would be safe and that the officer would be back later the next day to take her to get some personal belongings.
They sat in silence for a few minutes as a beautiful young mother gave her beautiful baby a breathing treatment in the back and the staff member gathered paperwork ready to explain what was going to happen next. Told her about the rules, they were simple. The Shelter was a secret place location only to be known by law enforcement. There would be no men showing up demanding to see their women, no drinking or using of any kind, we are all adults and need to clean up after ourselves. But, there were also therapy groups and people who understood what you were going through all the time. They explained to the girl about a protection order so he couldn’t come within a certain amount of distance between them. The first night was a bit overwhelming, but she woke up the next day and saw the damage he had done to her and made her first attempt at filing a protection order.
This story is happening all around the nation, every night in some ‘perfect’ home all hell breaks loose and places like that Women’s Shelter offer a safe place for these women and kids to go. It isn’t easy, believe me, I’ve been this girl, it won’t be the Ritz with room service, but you will safe. You will make bonds with other women who understand so many things that so many others can’t. I’ve made my best friend from my time in that place. People are always spending time trying to build you back up because he or she had spent so many times tearing you down emotionally because it is easier to control someone who is emotionally torn up under their control. I promise you that you deserve to be free, no one deserves to hurt you verbally, physically, sexually, or any way. I think living in the shelter was hard, but it also gave me the courage I didn’t know I had. I still have the dreams, and that same shelter still offers me counseling to get through it. We all deserve better than to suffer abuse.