She was twenty-two years old when she met him. Life before him had not necessarily been a cakewalk, but she did grow up knowing and feeling love.
He was handsome, had a nice smile, and a pleasant personality. It also didn’t hurt that he was driving her favorite car the day she first saw him come through the drive-thru of the bank where she worked as a teller.
The First Date
Their first date was a little odd but that wasn’t too strange when you are first getting to know someone. What was strange, however, was when he showed up on her doorstep very early the next morning… drunk. His words were slurred so there was no mistaking the condition he was in. But, in an effort to give him the benefit of the doubt, she excused it. She thought, “He must have dropped me off last night and then gone out with some friends for an all-nighter.” He was in his twenties as well, so that would not have been an unlikely explanation. It never dawned on her that he may have a drinking problem. After all, she thought, people in their twenties are not alcoholics.
There were other warning signs, a jealous tendency in particular. It would not be unusual for him to accuse her of looking at other men while they were out together. Regardless of the fact, there was no truth in that, it was his perception. His perception became his reality. His reality would become her nightmare when they got home.
Being pinned down on the floor and choked on a frequent basis; pushed up against the wall, hitting her head on a nail; having to physically fight him while being seven months pregnant; being hit in the face with the telephone receiver; being punched in the stomach while pregnant. Nightmare…
They All Knew
She was not forced to suffer in silence; people knew. He had a reputation and a history of both alcoholism and abuse. Being new to this town, she had no idea. His family knew. The police knew as a result of numerous calls to the residence for assistance. The assistance offered at the time was a cooling off period. They would arrest him, take him to jail, then release him a while later. The assistance his family offered was advice. His mother gave her what she considered helpful hints on ways to minimize his abuse.
And yes, her family knew as well. Her mother wanted her to come home. A new job with a promising future kept her in the town, however. She had goals and a child on the way to consider as well. She wanted the best for herself and her baby.
The baby was the strength she drew from to leave. It was one thing to subject herself to that kind of treatment but she refused to place her child in that type of environment.
She Was Strong
Despite what she was going through, she was strong. She knew she would leave. She also knew she had to plan her exit strategy carefully and quietly. That was the hardest part about leaving. So, she began working as much overtime as she could and sending money home for her mother to hold for her. She remained silent, but she was planning her exit.
Even on Christmas Eve when they got into a fight and she left, she remained strong. She stayed in a women’s shelter for two days. Other times she slept in her car. Without the knowledge of many of her co-workers, there were also times she slept overnight at work. As the office was closing, she would sneak off and hide in the restroom. When everyone was gone for the night she slept on the couch in the breakroom. Before everyone returned to work the next day, she would freshen up and change clothes in the upstairs restroom. A trusted co-worker, who was aware of her plight, would bring her breakfast the next morning.
Focused and Determined
Her strength allowed her to go to work the same day of the physical altercation when she was seven months pregnant. She was strong but she was hurt. She could hardly walk; it was more of a shuffle. Nonetheless, she shuffled through her shift and then went to the ER. Her trip to the ER resulted in a week’s stay at the hospital. Missing a week of pay while trying to earn as much money as she could in order to walk away from her situation was a setback but she remained determined.
Missing work was not something she wanted to do but seemed forced to do at times; like the time he hit her with the telephone receiver. She couldn’t go to work that day. Her face was cut, swollen, and purple. Another setback in her financial goal but she still didn’t give up! She had a very understanding and supportive supervisor and was able to call and explain why she couldn’t come in.
The Abuse Continued Even After She Left
The time did come when she was able to leave and secure a place for her and the baby. It would be nice to think the abuse stopped then but it didn’t. That’s when the verbal and psychological abuse started. He would call her home and harass her. He would show up and beat on the front door. But, at last, it did stop and she was grateful.
Once she was free, she stayed free! The experience made her keenly aware of unhealthy relationship tendencies and she has not been in an abusive relationship since! She knew that situation did not define who she was as a person…then, or now.
What is Love?
Ladies and gentlemen, please know this: love does not confine, give black eyes, broken bones, or bruises. Love nurtures, respects, and protects. Words without corresponding actions are empty. This very well could be where the phrase “talk is cheap” comes from. Anyone can afford to talk but it’s in our actions where our true character is defined.
If a person says they love you, it will be manifested in their actions towards you. Your love for them will not be enough to protect you. Please love yourself enough to seek help and walk away from any relationship that is physically, emotionally, or psychologically abusive.
What Can You Do?
If you are reading this article and are currently in an abusive relationship, please know there are resources available to you. A quick Google search located the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 1-800-799-7233
She wanted me to let you know this: “It won’t get better! In a very small percentage of cases, people change for the better but it is not worth the risk to see if your situation will fall into that percentage.”
She also wanted me to let you know her name is LaWaysha and she went on to become a mid-level manager at a Fortune 15 corporation, earned a BS in Business, which was paid for by the corporation. She raised her child as a single parent and he went on to graduate college with a BS in Business as well, and is working on an MBA. Her situation did not limit her possibilities for success and happiness in life, nor will it limit yours. She wants you to know there is hope. There is a future beyond what you may be experiencing right now.
I thank her for her willingness to share the details of her experience. May her strength, then and now, encourage you to go get help if needed. You’re worth it!