When I was in my late teens, I had a boyfriend who was possibly the worst human being walking the planet.
When we first started dating, he was very kind and caring, but my parents always told me they didn’t like him. Eventually, I was kicked out of my house and ended up moving in with him. That was when things changed. They went horribly wrong and my life has never been the same since.
My first experience with sex was brutal, bloody and forced. I remember having a friend of mine trying to help me wash the blood off of walls, floors and myself. I crawled into a shell. I cut ties with my family and friends as I didn’t want them to know what was happening in my life. I lived a life of daily beatings, rapes, and humiliations. I was constantly in fear and continually waiting for the next blow.
I remember one afternoon, I simply reached for my car keys and woke up bloody and bruised on the living room floor. Washing the dishes and leaving lint on them from the tea towel resulted in all of the dishes being smashed onto the floor, me being shoved down onto the broken glass and being made to clean up “my mess” while pieces of glass stuck out of my knees, ankles and hands.
I was knocked unconscious once by having a motorbike helmet slammed so hard into my head that my feet left the ground. I know what it feels like to be choked until your vision gets spotty and you realize that you are possibly seconds away from dying. I know what it feels like to be kicked so hard that you lose a kidney. I know what it feels like to be punched in the face so hard that your lip slices right through your teeth. I know the humiliation of having to spit out blood and pieces of broken teeth. I know how to dress to hide cuts and bruises. I know how to fake a smile. These are all things that no person should ever have to know. What I didn’t know, was how to make it stop.
Logically, people will hear this and think “Just leave”. And, to be truthful, if I step out of myself and look in, that is exactly what I might say as well. However, many don’t understand — couldn’t possibly comprehend what happens to a person in a situation such as this. We suffer not only fear and pain, but shame. We have moments of self blame. There are times that we are certain this is something we deserve. I mean, who just leaves lint inside a glass? And so many have cut ties with the people who care about them, that the mere thought of having them know this is going on is almost more terrifying than the situation itself. I wouldn’t ever involve the police, and when their involvement was inevitable, I simply lied. Fear of repercussions was beyond fear of survival.
The breaking point for me was something that still makes me feel ill to recall. I had just suffered a very violent beating, which had left me unconscious. When I woke up, I thought that I had been blinded. Pitch black. Everywhere. I remember the taste of blood in my mouth, and the feel of the cold floor under me. I remember wondering if I had died. Once I was strong enough to get my bearings, I realized that I had been thrown into the bathroom. The light switch was outside in the hallway. I fumbled around in the dark and finally found the door knob. I pulled to open the door, but it wouldn’t budge. What I didn’t realize, was that he had tied off the door handle of the bathroom to the door handle of the room across the hall. I was truly locked in, in the dark. I banged on the door and screamed until I had no voice left. I drank from the sink. I slept in the bathtub. He had, apparently, left the house and I was alone.
This happened on a Tuesday night. When I was finally let out, it was Friday night.
He fell asleep on the couch, and I remember crawling down the hall in my robe, trying to be as quiet as I could. I remember seeing the front door and knowing it was my salvation. I got out. I found a payphone. I called my mom, collect.
I’d like to say that I never looked back, but I did, and still do to this very day. I am reminded daily of my experiences by the scars on my body, the tooth that is no longer there, the kidney that I will never get back, and the fears that I carry with me daily. I cannot deal with the smell of beer, it makes my stomach turn. I cannot dry a dish. I cannot use a washroom where the light switch is in the hall. I keep a flashlight under each bathroom sink, and when I happened to be showering once when the power went out, I had a complete breakdown. I no longer trust easily and I rarely crawl out of my shell.
But I survived. And I am a very strong woman now.
I have three beautiful children and all of them know what happened to me years ago. I was determined to make them aware of how quickly things can go wrong. I was determined that they always knew that if something was happening to them, they could come to me always. And, I let them know that there are places that they can call, at any time, day or night.
My daughter moved in with her boyfriend … a couple of weeks in, he hit her and smashed her phone to keep her from calling me. She ran, in her robe, and found a payphone. She called me. Collect.
I am so proud to be involved with a company like Royal LePage, that has taken such a prominent stand against abuse. I am so proud to work with people who are so willing to help, even though they may not fully understand the amazing impact that they are having.
I know that, years ago, had I known about the shelters out there, I would’ve escaped sooner. The door at the end of the hall would’ve been a lot closer.