I have a scar.
It has been there for 17+ years.
This scar was caused by a pain so colossal and overwhelming that I couldn't breathe.
This scar was difficult to handle both physically and mentally and shook me to my very core.
This scar, it reminds me.
I applied lip gloss today and felt it.
I was 18-19 years old. I was in my room with my then boyfriend. We were arguing, not for the first time either. We argued a lot. He grabbed me by my face and bit straight through my lip.
This is my story of survival, of the scar that reminds me. It is the first time I have ever shared this story. Be patient with me as I unravel my soul in front of you.
He was in my Art class my senior year of High School. He was funny, smart and had a lot of friends. He sat beside me and made me laugh. One day he made a mixed tape for me and gave me a letter telling me how beautiful, smart and funny I was... how amazing I was and how he wanted to pursue a relationship with me. I fell in love.
The first slap came out of nowhere. We were in his bedroom with his mother in the kitchen and his father in the living room. We had a small disagreement. Out of nowhere he blindsided me with a slap to the face. I heard a boom within my ears and my body was filled with shock. Immediately he fell on top of me, clinging to my body, convulsing with tears and poured out his sorrow and shame for laying his hands on me. I was confused. I was hurt. I felt his sorrow.
For months it never happened again. I believed that was the only time it would ever happen and that his remorse was genuine. He became a prince. He was a gentleman; opening doors, taking me shopping, listening to my music, reading me poetry, taking me on trips, treating me like I was a queen.
Then it happened again. This time it wasn't a slap, it was a punch to my stomach and a threat that if I told anyone or tried to leave him that my life would be in danger as would my families. From that day on things became more intense. I walked on eggshells so as not to upset him. We had a routine. He would abuse me and then buy me jewelry or write me a letter or make a grand gesture to “prove his love” for me. I felt confused, I felt isolated and I felt trapped. The “man I knew” verses the “man he was becoming” were two different people and I so desperately wanted to have the “man I knew” back. I stayed. I stayed out of fear, love and confusion. My self-worth was slowly diminishing and I felt unlovable enough to stay.
As time progressed so did the intensity of his attacks. Slaps turned into blows. Blows turned into choking. Choking turned into being drug by my hair, which turned to kicks, which turned to knives held to my throat, which turned to blood being drawn, which turned to rape.
I told no one. I couldn't out of shame for myself, fear for my family and “love” for him. I became a shell of a person.
I don’t know how to tell you when an abused woman has had enough. I don’t know where to tell you she finds the strength to leave when any ounce of strength she had prior to the relationship is not only gone, but so deeply gone that even sleeping becomes too hard and requires too much power. I can’t even explain to you how I left.
It started one Saturday afternoon and progressed into Sunday.
In my own home with my family in the kitchen he got so mad at me because I didn’t want to leave and go off with him alone that he grabbed my face with both of his hands and pulled me to him. He leaned in like he was going to kiss me; instead he bit straight through my top lip.
My boyfriend and I were talking with his mother and she was sharing funny stories of his childhood. I felt safe enough in her presence to “laugh at him” and to joke him as well. I knew the repercussions, but for a brief moment, the ability to mock him within a safe environment was so overwhelming that I couldn't stop. Then it was time for me to go home. No sooner were we out the door when he grabbed me by my hair and pulled me across the concrete driveway. With steel toe boots on he began to kick me in the stomach, back and legs. His mother heard my screams and ran outside to get him off of me and I lay there on the ground, broken. She drove me home.
I began to ignore his calls and I tried my best to avoid him on campus. I had enough. Maybe it was the embarrassment of his mother finding out, maybe it was relief that someone finally knew, and maybe it was sheer exhaustion…but I ended it. He continued to try to see me, but I continued to tell him it was over.
However, this wouldn't be the end. It was a Monday morning. I was skipping class and sleeping in. I didn't have the energy to get up. It had been two weeks since we were through. He knocked on our front door and my grandmother let him in. She didn't know, I still had not told my family. I was still asleep. He came into my room and stood over me while I slept. I don’t know how long he was there. Eventually he woke me up. He looked crazier than I had ever seen him. Or maybe now I was seeing him for who he really was for the first time. Maybe this time apart and all I had been through finally opened my eyes.
He sat down, pulled a gun out of his pocket and put it to my head. I was frozen; couldn't move, couldn't speak. I don’t know what he said other than I ruined his life and he was going to end mine. Silent prayers and crying out to God in my mind saved me. He put the gun in his pocket and got up to walk out. That was it.
Weeks later he approached me outside of my psychology class while we were waiting for our Professor to arrive and handed me a letter with red hearts all over it. In front of God and everybody I ripped it up, threw it in his face and finally stood up for myself. I told his fraternity everything he did and I put as much shame on him as I could. Eventually he would never even have the courage to look at me when we passed. I stood tall and unafraid. To this day if we pass one another he won't even look at me.
I have a scar and it reminds me. It reminds me that I am strong, that I am a survivor, and that I am worthy. It reminds me that I am a powerful woman.
P.S. You can leave. It is hard and it is scary. It is not an easy road and not all women ever make it out. But there is help available and I am here to support and encourage you. I will even help you find a way out.
P.P.S. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. While there is a lot left out, the majority of the fear and pain is on this page. One day I will be able to tell my whole and complete story without fear.