Trigger warning: violence against women, moderate language
I should have known things would not end well, after he stormed out of my disastrous 21st birthday, hurling abuse at my parents and running into the night.
He cheated on me too. Numerous times. And being young and stupid I forgave him again and again. He blamed the alcohol; he blamed his difficult home life; he blamed his friends for egging him on – boys being boys and all that. I saw him through skewed lenses and took all his shit, wanting to believe it wasn’t all empty in the valley of his heart.
We inevitably broke up. It was messy. There was yelling, crying, begging, pleading but I stood strong, blocking my ears and hardening my resolve, knowing I deserved better.
After the initial fall out, things seemed to get back on track for me. I was nearly finished my university degree, with honours. I had landed a great job and found some fantastic new friends.
It was the first Saturday night I’d been out, since the break up. Buoyed by my friends’ spirits I hadn’t even given him a second thought. We had a few drinks, and danced for hours, before heading upstairs to play some pool. I was having a great time.
I was just about to take a tricky shot at the ball, when I heard his voice, close behind my ear.
“Well aren’t you the little slut,” he snarled. It dawned on me that he must have been watching me all night.
Feeling shaky, I stood up straight, resting my hand against the pool cue.
“F*ck off Larry. What I do is none of your business.”
His eyes flared and he lunged at me. He grabbed me by the hair and twirled me around pinning me against the railing; open air at my back; the dance floor below.
He brought his face up into mine and hissed at me through clenched teeth, “You made a fool out of me. Carrying on with other boys. You didn’t care about me at all did you, you f*cking whore! I should throw you over this balcony right now.”
His spittle landed on my cheeks and in that moment, I was sure he was going to do it. I brought my hands up, slapping, punching, anything, to try and push him away and release myself from my position against the rail. I landed a beautiful hook to his right cheek before two bouncers pulled him off me and kicked him out.
Breathing hard and shaking violently, my friends grabbed me and took me downstairs. They were in shock too, being witness to such a sudden and vicious attack. We nervously made a joke about “needing another drink” and, putting the unpleasant scene out of our minds, went back to our night.
It was three a.m when we finally decided to wind things up. Despite the blemish of that incident, it had been fun night and just what I’d needed. My flat mate Cleo and I caught a taxi home to our two bedroom unit, tucked up the back half of a small court. As we giggled and stumbled up the path toward the front door, in my peripheral vision, I saw movement.
Out of the dark shadows of our carport, came a figure. With a chill, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, until I heard his voice.
“You hit me you bitch!”
The bastard even managed to sound indignant.
They say that when faced with threatening situations, people have two responses – either flight or fight. But in this instance, I chose a third – freeze. I could not move. Rooted to the ground, my stomach dropped to the floor and my bowels clenched in terror. That hesitation was all he needed, and he was upon me.
He grabbed me in a headlock and twisted my left arm behind my back. All I could think in that moment was, I can’t believe he came here and was waiting for me this whole time.
He kept saying over and over, “I loved you and you hit me, I loved you and you hit me.” He was delusional. I wriggled and kicked trying to get free. As he held me in his vice grip, I held onto the hope, that he wouldn’t let me choke. His arms were like a noose around my neck.
“Help!” I managed a strangled scream.
“Shut up!” he yelled, releasing my left arm. With his other hand now free, he began to punch me.
“Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
The first blow knocked my head sideways; a stunning blow. I heard the dull thwack of my brain hitting my skull. My vision blurred and the night around me threatened to entirely disappear, into darkness. Pummelling his fist into my head over and over again, I soon became dazed and disoriented from the savage attack. I vainly tried to protect and shield my face.
Why was no one coming to help? I wondered groggily.
You imagine, in your time of need, that others would come to your aide. However, no one came. I saw them peeping out the windows; neighbours investigating the noise, but not one stepped outside.
Suddenly, through swimming eyes, I saw red and blue flashing lights.
Larry in his rage, had not noticed Cleo. She had run inside and phoned the police.
“Hey! You!” I heard an officer cry.
Immediately I was released and Larry ran.
I fell to the ground, Cleo rushing to my side.
It was over.
He was arrested of course but the moment he was released he was around at our unit again, banging on the door and screaming abuse. When we wouldn’t open, he began with the phone calls. The police came again and advised a restraining order.
Even that didn’t stop him. He would get just close enough not to violate the order, but enough to be seen, menacing me with his mere presence. He would get his cronies to deliver messages and issue threats, counting down the days until the AVO was up.
In the end, I moved away but I have never forgotten the lesson.
People can make their siren’s call, and sing all they want to, but I will not hear what they have to say if it stands in the way of my freedom and my life, as it’s meant to be.
I’ve found strength in pain while you are still coming out of your cave walking on your hands.
By Sarah ©2017
Image credit Pixabay
Prompt: MLMM Music Prompt #6, “The Cave” By Mumford & Sons, #musicchallenge #amwriting #music; Daily Post Daily Prompt, Word: neighbours, release, savage,disastrous; and also, Our Write Side, Two Word Tuesday, Turn the other cheek – thwack and slap