It’s 2:30 in the morning, two days after the New Years.
I turn down an alley, pull up and park outside my best friend’s window to see if she’s up.
I see a glimpse of light coming from the hallway as I peek through my passenger car window.
I rush out of my car to the warmly window.
I hear a deep voice, “who’s there?!” as I’m aproaching.
“It’s Megan, he cracked my face!”, I cry out.
I hear my best friend in the background.
By the grace of God, she was up and told me to meet her out front while she grabbed some peroxide.
She lived right up the street from my boyfriend of 4 years and who I was breaking up with.
It made sense for me to rush to her house and help stop the flow of blood from my forehead.
I managed to get the bleeding a little under control with the a single napkin I happened to have in my car.
My best friend brought out some peroxide, a full roll of paper towels and came to my car.
I craftily and frantically tried to stop the bleeding oozing from the open gash on my forehead.
My best friend made a quick joke, then looked into my eyes with deep concern and said,
“I don’t think you can cover this one up with a band-aid, you need to go to the hospital.”
It was at that very moment it all hit me.
Everything I tried to avoid in this abusive relationship was happening.
On the way to urgent care, I thought back to the time a couple years before when my friend found out he was still hitting me.
She warned me that even though it may not be bad now, it only takes one time for something to happen and cause severe damage.
I always told myself I would make it out before it ever got to that point.
Clearly, I misjudged the situation
I spent the time in urgent care getting stitches in my face, wondering if my bangs would be long enough to cover them for the next few weeks.
I began going over what lead me to that point.
Since that night in the ER, and for the last eleven years I have been getting to know the girl that went into that relationship, and the woman I am today who grew out of it.
How I Got Here
I come from a family normalized domestic violence and aggression.
My parents divorced when I was four because of it, and I’ve experienced that same aggression with male relatives throughout my childhood and adolescence.
Dealing with angry men was something I got used to and learned how to navigate.
My mom didn’t raise me around men that beat me or her.
When family was angry, we talked it out.
Although repercussions weren’t given, accountability wasn’t taken.
We were also the family that swept things under the rug hoping it just got better somehow.
I deal with undiagnosed depression, so for me there was always a longing and a desire to fill a void.
Always wanting to be married young and have a bunch of babies, my life plan included getting a boyfriend in high school, getting married and having my own family to never deal with mine again.
Plus, I never had a date to anything.
I was seventeen, and a senior in high school, I had to make sure I at least had a date for prom.
By the time prom came around, every picture we were in together for every school dance showcased a bruise on my arm from him.
I remember the first time he put his hands on me.
He didn’t hit me, but he bent my fingers back in a way that inflicted a little pain.
I was shocked when it happened.
“It wasn’t a punch or a slap” I told myself.
“It wasn’t that bad, that I provoked it.”
We hadn’t even been together a month.
I was taking on full punches in my arms and chest, easy places to hide bruises and an easy excuse to tell myself, “well at least it’s not my face.”
Fast forward four years, I was isolated, depressed, and the abuse has progressed.
I blamed myself and my temper for so long.
At 21 I decided I was going to really try to make the relationship work, see if it really WAS MY FAULT he was still hitting me.
I decided I was going to be a better girlfriend, watch my mouth, and make everything right.
The abuse didn’t stop. It actually got worse.
The verbal abuse got to the point where he would just call me “stupid” or a “fat bitch” and I would instantly cry.
At that time I was working and going to broadcasting school full time.
I remember staying at school until it closed so I didn’t have to see him.
See, he felt neglected at that time, so I would have to give him a few hours when I got home to avoid arguing.
I did almost everything I could to keep the peace, but it just got worse!
The hits were getting closer to my face, the hair pulling was getting more extreme, and tortuous acts to inflict prolonged pain was getting intense.
The crazy thing was at the time he was living with me and my mom.
I didn’t want her or my family to know.
I never wanted to be that girl who told her family about her abusive boyfriend and still went back to him.
I got myself into this, I will get myself out.
Finally Breaking the Cycle
One day, after dropping him off at his moms house, I was able to start an argument, and kick him out!
I didn’t break up with him yet, but for me it was a start.
I gave him an ultimatum.
If I found out he was cheating (because clearly I cared more about where he put his penis than the damage his hands did to my body) we were officially done.
Even though the abuse continued as we were “working on things” it wasn’t until New Years Eve, when I found out about his girlfriend that he had been cheating with for the last year that I was DONE!
On the night of January 2, meeting him to talk about things was a way to prove to myself that I was done.
I was fresh off working my Forever 21 closing shift, it was almost 2 am, and I just needed to KNOW I was really over him.
He cried, he begged, and I felt nothing.
I had finally reached the point where I was ready to move on.
I was 21, and felt like I was finally free to experience life, clubs, and MEN!
He knew I was talking to people on our break, but nothing physical like him.
When we were a couple minutes from his house, he decided he wanted to go through my phone. I don’t know if you guys remember the Sidekick Slides, but if you tried to send a text message that didn’t send, it was stored in your outbox.
He checked my outbox and saw when I texted a guy, I called him “babe.” He looked at me while I came to the stop sign and screamed “Bitch, you called him babe!”
He threw the phone at me.
It slapped my face and bounced off to the back seat.
I screamed from the initial pain and grabbed my face. My hand felt a little wet, and as I looked at my hand, I saw blood.
When I looked in the mirror, I saw blood running down my forehead and I looked at him and said
“what did you do to me?!”
To this day, I remember the nauseating feeling I had coming back to me from my hangover the night before.
I remember my head spinning, but I remember I couldn’t cry, because I had to get him out of my car.
I just had to get to my best friend’s house who was down the street.
I grabbed my one napkin that was wrapped around my Starbucks, as I saw blood had dripped on my cup.
I couldn’t even finish my Macchiato.
Once he realized I wouldn’t call the cops on him, got out of the car.
I went on my journey to the alley to meet my friend and that night’s saving grace.
I was thankful my stitches were out of my face by my birthday a few weeks later.
I’m grateful the scar blends with my forehead lines so you can’t tell unless if I point it out.
The lessons are as present today as they were eleven years ago.
My purpose in sharing these lessons for domestic violence awareness month is to do just that, spread awareness!!
Some of my friends knew that he hit me and it was gossiped.
I do believe that because I was a teenager, telling my mom wouldn’t have been out of line.
We live in this bubble where we feel we should always mind our own business but sometimes an intervention for someone’s well being is okay.
When I later found out my best friend was in an abusive situation, I told her mom because at that moment, she needed help.
My best friend’s life was worth more to me than their potential anger.
A lot of people including family and friends, saw the bruises and I always had an excuse even though I’m sure they didn’t believed me.
When the truth came out that they in fact were from him, I admitted I sometimes wanted to tell them in the past “yes, he did it,” but never felt that I had a safe space.
How to Help If You Think Someone is Experiencing Domestic Violence
If you notice a friend or family member consistently is covered in bruises and suspect they are from their spouse, create a safe space when asking them about the marks on their body.
Make them feel comfortable enough to be transparent about their situation.
They may want to tell you, they may want or need your help, but the setting may not be an appropriate one to divulge their info.
Understand that domestic abuse victims will experience shame, embarrassment, and denial.
It took me 3 years to even accept the fact that I was stuck in an abusive relationship.
Remove the jokes and judgement from the discussion.
Remember, this person must be a tad bit fucked up in the head to allow a person to treat them in such a way consistently.
If they go back, it does not mean they like it or want it, it just means they haven’t found the strength to break this pattern and develop a new sense of normalcy.
Abuse is usually a cycle.
It’s usually a learned behavioral acceptance that has been conditioned in them.
Breaking that may take time.
Combating the shame you feel in that situation leads to more isolation and secrecy.
If you know or suspect a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, never assume or say that is what they want. Don’t call them “Ike and Tina” or judge.
Be the person they can come to when they leave! It’s a process sometimes, especially when kids are involved.
If you’re in that situation, be gentle with yourself, but know that if it has been progressing, most likely, it will continue.
Warning signs that you could be with a potential abuser:
- Extreme jealousy
- Possessiveness / Extremely controlling behavior
- A bad temper
- Verbal abuse
Abuse is always gradual.
The first slap is never usually the first contact.
Be mindful of the interactions and increase in aggression. Physical and verbal abuse should never be a normal part of your relationship.
If it has become a pattern, it is never too late to plan your exit. My parents were married for 7 years, I was 4 when my mom finally found the strength to leave.
In the 4 years I was with my abuser, it took me one year to plan my exit and get him out of my house for good.
Sometimes, you may need help leaving and that’s OK.
Usually, your local police station can connect you to resources for domestic violence victims that need help leaving.
You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for assistance at 1-800-799-7233, or online chat at www.thehotline.org.
Be gentle with yourself.
For a good two years after my face healed, I was angry with myself that I allowed it to go on for so long. How could I do that to me? Why didn’t I love myself enough to do better?
Then I realized, I can’t blame myself for the journey I went through, but I could only be better and not put myself in those positions in the future.
AND I HAVEN’T!
Abuse is a cycle that I can look back on and say that I broke it myself.
It is not normal to have a man put his hands on you because you raised your voice. It is not normal for your spouse to call you out your name and degrade you because they had a bad day. It’s not normal for your spouse to isolate you from your friends and family, and control your interactions with people because of their own insecurities.
If it has become a normal part of your relationship, it is okay to choose a new norm and seek help.
The first time I prayed, I prayed to God to give me the strength to leave this man, and that no matter how hard it would be to move on, to have the strength to want more for myself and never come back.
If you are in this situation, I pray you are infused with the same strength this prayer gave me, and I pray you make it out before the situation reaches a peak.
Happy Domestic Violence Awareness Month!
Don’t Forget to Share!
Is this article has helped you or you know someone that could benefit from reading this don’t forget to share!
- Domestic Violence and I How I Broke My Abusive Cycle - October 21, 2019