Monday, October 31, 2011

I Remember When…

 domestic violence

This can’t be happening, I thought as his fists pounded both sides of my head, which felt like a punching bag caught between two hammers. I lashed out, trying to hit him back and he punched me harder. Before I knew it, I had fallen in our bathtub, my chin to my chest, contorted in the oddest position. I tried to kick him. Again, he hit harder. Finally, I gave up fighting as he took his anger out on me and I tried to shield myself from the blows.

I was young…had just graduated from college and thought I knew everything. He was in his thirties, had a slight case of Cerebral Palsy (it wasn’t until later that I found out that he also had an addiction to cocaine). We had just moved into an apartment together. This was the same man that my family and I had gotten into a “scuffle” with when he charged at me because I didn’t want to see him anymore at the age of nineteen. But two years had passed without me having contact with him, so I figured he had changed. Plus, for some reason, I didn’t think of that “scuffle” as domestic violence back then even though I had a scratch on my left breast from that incident that is still there to this day. Anyway, while I was away at school, he had helped my mother out, so I figured he deserved a second chance. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

It all started over a pack of cigarettes. He was a smoker. I was not. He asked me to buy him a pack of cigarettes and I told him I wouldn’t do it because “he didn’t need to be smoking anyway.” Well, who was I to tell him what to do?

After he beat me up in the bathroom, he pulled me into our bedroom where he hit me again. I remember bawling, crying my eyes out and not wanting to look at him because earlier I had seen the devil in his eyes as he pounded away.

“I know you’re gonna leave me,” he said. “I might as well kill you now.” He remembered the promise that I had made when we reconciled: that if he ever hit me again, I was going to leave. He got in my face again and hit me in the stomach.

“I’m not going to leave,” I said, trying to appease him even though my mind was planning an escape.

“If you do, I will find you and kill you. I’m telling you that now.” I could hear the conviction in his voice and that scared me.

I laid down on the bed, balled my body up into the fetal position. He moved closer, touching me, opening my body up to him. Then he got on top of me. I cried harder. It wasn’t enough that he had whaled on me, but I was going to have to be subjected to him having sex with me. I just couldn’t bare that. I cried harder and whispered “no”. To my surprise, he stopped.

I went to work the next day scared…thinking about what had happened the night before (at the time I was a cashier at a gas station). Thoughts of leaving him crossed my mind, but then I remembered his words: that he would find me and kill me. That made it harder to want to leave, even though I had said I would leave if he ever hit me again.

My boss could tell something was wrong and he kept asking questions. “Are you all right?” he asked. Believe it or not, there were no physical signs of the beating I had endured. But I guess I was so psychologically messed up that it was visible to my boss. I finally broke down and told him what happened.

“You have to leave him,” he told me.

I justified what happened…said it may not happen again…made excuses for my abuser. All the classic stuff. Finally, I made the call to the House of Ruth and never looked back.

Of course my abuser called my family looking for me. One time, I was even at my mother’s house when he called. I talked to him…told him I could never forgive him for what he did. Told him that I would never come back to him. Verbally lashed out at him and told him all the things I wish I could have said that night. And guess what? It felt good. 

That day seems like eons ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the color of the bathroom, how our bedroom looked…what he looked like and what he was wearing that day.

Hello, my name is T.C. Galltin and I’m a domestic violence survivor. Stories like mine play out all over the globe…from Baltimore to Bahrain. I will never forget what happened to me. And I don’t want to either. I want it to be etched in my brain for the rest of my life so it will never happen again.

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, we should continue to spotlight this important issue. Abuse doesn't stop just because a month ends. It’s time, people. Let’s put an end to DV.

2 comments:

  1. Such a powerful story. You would never know who was affected by domestic violence until someone says that they were. I known too many women who were abused, and were afraid for their lives if they left their abuser. Eventually, they all left their abuser, but to this day, they still look over their shoulders.

    I am very thankful that you got out of that situation, and that you're trying to make others aware. DV has no age limit, color lines, or language barriers, it can and DOES affect a lot of people.

    -Kalley C

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  2. Kalley,

    I got goosebumps when I read your comment. Everything you said is on point.

    I looked over my shoulder forever when I left him. One time I even spotted him from the bus and fear overcame me (and he wasn't even a threat...hadn't even noticed me on the bus).

    Someone once called domestic violence "domestic terror" and that's what DV feels like.

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