It’s been almost 18 months since what happened to me, happened. I try to tell myself it wasn’t that big of a deal, that I should just move past it, get over it, let it go. Until the perpetrator in this story showed up on a social media connection with his new profile picture of himself and his new bride, I never wanted to delve into the long-lasting ramifications this story had on me. However, when I tried to tell a mutual friend how some of this abuse played out, her response was “he doesn’t do that to his new wife!” Suddenly everything I’d endured that fateful night came rushing back and was amplified under the lens that if I had just been more lovable like his new bride, none of that would’ve happened to me.
First off, let me say that my boyfriend, let’s call him Dash, and I had a standing date on Wednesday nights to play pub trivia. We were a power duo when it came to that game and we usually ended up in the money. We both enjoyed it immensely and was one of the best parts of our relationship. I headed to his apartment directly from work and I could tell from the slurring of the word, “yeah” as I knocked on the door that the copious amounts of alcohol that I often faced upon entering had already started BEFORE we were supposed to head to the pub. Though the alcohol abuse was a regular occurrence, he usually held out until after we won at trivia so I knew something was off. Turns out my instinct was on target. Dash’s back has tightened up and caused spasms of pain that were painful to observe, much less endure. He had no insurance and was working towards buying a house so I knew there was no chance of getting him into the doctor’s office. He had self medicated to the tune of approximately 11 shots of whiskey inside of an hour. However, the true depths of drunkenness had yet to sink in to either of us so when he insisted we still go play trivia, I tentatively agreed.
By the time I poured him into the booth of the pub less than 2 miles from his apartment, I knew I had made a huge mistake. The 11 shots weren’t cutting into the pain and he immediately ordered and downed another double of whiskey. Every movement caused him more pain and more belligerence. By the time the trivia started, every answer from Dash included the word “fuck” at some exuberant volume. This continued until a father at the table next to us angrily pointed out that his 7 year old daughter was seated less 5 feet away in the booth across from this 44 year old completely drunk man. This just enraged Dash since he considered it a bar despite the fact that children were legally allowed to be in there because it served food. In response, Dash directly addressed this 7 year old child, an action that still haunts me to this day. In her memory, this little girl is going to remember being addressed by a completely drunken belligerent stranger.
This was too much for me and I immediately sat next to Dash in his side of the booth, placing myself between him and this child. This defused the situation and he immediately realized I had saved him from himself and began asking me how did I know that this was the right time to step in. I used every sweet tone I could use to finally get him to leave, despite his protestations that he LOVED trivia and it was the highlight of his week.
As he went to the restroom, I apologized to the family at the next table and the waitresses who had served us. When he barely made it back to the table, I escorted him to the car, bearing a great deal of his weight as he leaned on me to make it through his back pain and drunken stumbling. In the car, he insisted we stop on the way home for “sauce.” I had already made a rule that he wasn’t ever to ask me to do that for him again to enable his alcoholism but I was afraid of how he might react with his back in that level of pain so I conceded and went into the liquor store to buy him another pint of whiskey.
When we got back to the apartment, he practically crawled up the stairs to the second floor landing. He laid on the couch and downed a good portion of the pint before insisting he needed to go lay down in bed. He then began to crawl on the floor to the bedroom down the hall but ended up yelling in pain. As I went to kneel down next to him, in tears, trying to do anything I could for the man I loved, his back seized again and he began throwing anything within his grasp. I curled into a ball next to him as he swiped at this vacuum cleaner, narrowly missing us both as it fell, tossing a roll of paper towels and an empty plastic bottle of whiskey from a previous night.
I finally was able to get him up enough to again bear some of his weight enough to get him down the hall. This is when things went even worse. I moved him to the side of the bed and told him to lay down but as he fell backwards, he rolled to his right side missing the edge of the bed and hitting a metal folding chair with the back of his head in a sinking sound of a heavy bell chime. I ran over to him and he was unconscious for what seemed like hours but what closer to 10 seconds as I yelled his name. He finally came to, enraged at what had happened whereupon he grabbed the metal chair and threw it, hitting me in the shin. The pain barely registered as I took the chair calmly and folded it, leaning it against the wall by his closet.
I kneeled down next to him and checked to make sure he wasn’t bleeding. He had a large bruise already forming on his head but seemingly otherwise unscathed and insisting he needed to use the restroom again. I asked him if he wanted help but when he declined, I took him at his word mostly out of fear that his anger was already too elevated and I was unsafe.
I sat on the floor trying to remain calm but came to a fast realization that Dash wasn’t in the the restroom. I quickly ran into the living room where Dash has obviously finished off his bottle of whiskey and was standing, penis in hand aimed towards his front door. I yelled his name and he turned around angrily and said “what?!?” I explained to him that he wasn’t in the bathroom and begged him to listen to me because I didn’t want to be cleaning urine off the front door. I even put myself between him and the door and turned him around and escorted him down the hall to the restroom. I stood outside until he finished and then escorted him back to the bedroom.
At this point, I just wanted to get him to pass out. He was still wincing in pain but the last shot of whiskey had made him think he could enjoy me for the evening. He began pawing at me and as much as I usually enjoyed that affection as it seemingly only happened when he was drunk, this was not at all attractive to me. He was blindingly drunk and in immense pain and nothing about that was arousing. However at that point, I couldn’t make him understand that. As I tried to get him to just lay down, he started pulling on my clothes, using a tone of voice that was supposed to be seductive but came across as slurring and irrational. Eventually my shirt and new skirt which I had worn for the first time that day ended up torn and I stood in front of him, almost completely naked and in tears, I knew what was next. The only thing left on me was my black beaded necklace, a gift from my best friend and a common accessory I loved to wear. I immediately stated to beg, “Dash, please, don’t. Please.” He looked only at the necklace as he twisted it around my throat. “Please!” And I felt the necklace start to constrict my breathing and then the wires popped. I breathed one more big breath and with all I could stared into his eyes and said “DASH!”
As if he had just walked in on a surprise party, he looked me in the eyes and said my name. It was though I had suddenly just appeared before him and hadn’t been there the whole time. I stood in front of him completely naked and in tears and now was hoping this momentary recognition would afford me the opportunity to stop any more sexual attempts and to get him to sleep. I reached for his favorite sweatshirt and put it over my head, knowing this was one article of clothing he wouldn’t rip off me.
Again, I maneuvered him to the side of the bed trying to make sure he was closer to the middle but he again fell back sideways and this time he went head first into the corner of his wooden entertainment center. I knew he had hit the corner this time and ran into the bathroom to get a towel. “Dash? Dash!” He finally came to after another few seconds of unconsciousness and I could already see the blood seeping out of the back of his head. I put the towel in my lap and lifted his head onto my lap and he bled into the towel. I tried to say calming words to him but he kept grabbing my hands, kissing them and telling me to make the “other people” go away, that it should just be us and he wanted everyone else to get out of the apartment . I assured him that no one else was there but he kept insisting on getting rid of the others. After several minutes, I just assured him I would make them go away.
After the bleeding slowed, I maneuvered him on the bed, this time stomach first so he wouldn’t fall again. I placed the towel behind his head so wouldn’t bleed into his pillow and talked calmly to him until his passed out.
At this point, I realized it was close to 2 AM and I had nothing to wear in the morning. I held my torn skirt on wrapped around me, his favorite sweatshirt still on me and drove home to get a change of clothes. I immediately returned to his apartment for fear he would hurt his back if he got out of bed.
The next morning as he slowly walked into the living room, he handed me my broken necklace and asked sheepishly “where would someone go to this replace this?”
When I told this story to a very few friends, most of them get it. They understand I stayed and let myself endure all that because I put the person I loved before myself. On a rare occasion, I get asked why I didn’t call the cops or at least 911 and again, the thought process that night was one of protection. I knew he had no insurance and needed that money for a house. I knew if I called 911, he would have been violent with them and ended up in jail. And yes, I worried he would never forgive me. It never dawned on me, I would never forgive myself for the actions of that night.
I think it doesn’t affect me for long periods of time and then I’ll watch a movie wherein someone surprisingly cracks their head on something and I have an involuntary visceral reaction. I curl up in that fetal position when I see a woman getting attacked in tv. I feel myself putting a buffer in between me and that memory as though I am watching it through a spectator’s eyes and not my own. And after therapy and time, I’ve gotten stronger but to have someone, another female, who heard about a great deal of that abuse, and then brushed it off with “he doesn’t do that to his new wife” made the whole thing come flooding back. As though my inadequacies were the reason he was able to abuse me, that if I had just been prettier, thinner, nicer, sexier, stronger or any other trait, he would have been a guy worthy to be my husband!
Nope. I was the victim. He was the predator. I accept that but that’s not going to be my story going forward. That will forever be who he is despite what others say but that’s not who I am. It’s just what happened to me.
Notice: The names in this story are fictitious to protect the request for anonymity.