As always before I went to sleep, I reached down to be sure that the knife was still hidden between the mattress and the bed rail. I kept it there just in case I would need it to protect myself during the night. There was always the fear that somehow he would find it and the weapon that I hoped would protect me could be used against me. Of course, this was not my only fear. It was just one of many that come with having an abusive partner.
Knives themselves brought terror to me. To think that I would even consider that one would protect me was almost ridiculous; however, it was now my best option. Well, I guess my best option would have been to leave, but to consider that also brought fear, so much so that it didn’t seem to be a viable option in my mind at the time.
I love to cook, but cooking involves knives. I understand how a chef’s knives are a prized possession. In the hands of a chef, they are a necessary tool used skillfully with speed and accuracy. A Chef can do such amazing and creatively wonderful things with a knife. That’s what knives were intended to be used for. To this day, even seeing a knife in the hands of a skilled chef makes me cringe. I can only watch them work with one eye open. I will never be able to handle a knife with the speed of a chef. Knives bring back memories…
There was the time that a knife was used in a sexual assault against me. It doesn’t feel good having a knife blade pressing against your skin, not that it really distracted from the atrocity that was happening to me. All these years later, I can still see it at my waistline, almost still feel it. I wrote about that in an abstract way in series of previous posts in my Fairytales from the Dark Side. “The Dark Room…”, “The Dark Room… Continued” and “The Dark Room… The Final Chapter”, tell that story.
On another occasion, I remember not only the sight of knives being hurled past my head, but also the sound as they stuck into the wall behind me. It was all for the thrill of watching me be terrorized. Yes, that’s a really bad memory, too.
It wasn’t just knives that brought fear. Actually, any object that could be picked up and thrown or any body part that moved suddenly in my direction, those brought fear. Hands that could be used in a loving caress one minute could have a death grip around my throat the next. Arms that could hold me in a secure embrace one minute might be pushing me down a flight of steps the next. A mouth that could be offering kind words one minute could be screaming obscenities the next. Never knowing what was going to happen next, that brought fear, too.
Riding in a car and not being the driver brings fear. I think anyone who I’ve ridden with can attest to that. I can’t seem to keep myself from giving driving directions as a passenger and it doesn’t matter what seat I’m in. You see, I remember the time that the car was spun around wildly in the middle of the freeway, more than once. One time, I must have deserved it, though. He was right. I didn’t have a picture of him in my wallet. There were the times that the car was driven onto railroad tracks, dangerously close to oncoming trains. That was more than once, too. I will never understand how someone finds pleasure in seeing someone else in terror. I guess it must be like watching a reality horror flick. Of course, you never forget someone trying to push you out of a moving car vehicle either. Yes, I’m much more comfortable being the driver.
This particular night, the feel of the knife on the bed rail brought enough of a false sense of security that I thought I would be able to sleep. He had tried to throw me out of the upstairs bedroom window earlier on this day, but he seemed pretty out of it by bedtime. I thought the large amount of alcohol in his system would keep him asleep for the night. Or it could have the opposite effect as it had done in the past and turn him into a raging lunatic. Yes, the knife was a false sense of security, but thankfully that night the alcohol did keep him asleep.
Yes, there was mental abuse, as well. There was the unfaithfulness in a relationship that brings betrayal. That’s mental abuse. (Yes, that happened more than once, too.) Being verbally degraded and devalued on a daily basis is mental abuse. The constant need to have to “walk on eggshells” out of fear of making the abuser angry is an abuse. Having to live in fear 24/7 is mental abuse. The ramifications of such abuses are just as long lasting as physical abuse.
Why didn’t I leave? I didn’t leave because I was afraid to. I was afraid for my life. He threatened to hurt me if I tried to leave and I believed him. I couldn’t see any safe way out. How would I take care of myself and my son, and now the unborn baby I was carrying on my own? Where would I go? It was all just too overwhelming to consider.
I couldn’t tell anyone. He would hurt me if he found out that I did that. I knew that whoever I told would just tell me to leave. They really wouldn’t understand. I mean, he was always sorry afterwards. He promised to never do it again. Maybe this time, he’d really mean it. People can change, right?
This was all years ago for me, yet the unnatural fears I was left with as a result, took years and much help to recover from. I was one of the lucky ones. I made it out alive. Many aren’t so lucky. You would probably be surprised to find out that someone you know is the victim of abuse like I’ve described. Maybe even, it’s you.
Abuse is NEVER ok, not even once. Too many ignore those first warning signs. It’s easy to let reasoning justify the choice to stay in an abusive relationship. The reality is there is NO good reason to do so.
October is Domestic Violence Month. There really is a lot more help available today then there was when abuse was happening to me.
I’m happy that here in Arizona, Maricopa County just launched a new website to help victims of domestic violence. Please, please, if it’s you or someone you know is being abused, go to: http://geo.azmag.gov/maps/victimadvocates/ Here you can find a map of places that will help, as well as phone numbers and other helpful links for those outside of Arizona. Do it now, while you are still one of the lucky ones.