Domestic Violence, when does it end?

I woke up this morning to the FB buzz concerning a murder that happened close to the school that I teach at during the school year. A mother of 5- whose child I had previously taught- had her life ended by a piece of human garbage. Now, I have to say that this mother was not an angel- and I won’t pretend to sing her praises, but I will not defame the dead, either. She and I were not friends, but regardless of who she was- she was a mother. And, she was a woman who didn’t deserve to die at the hands of a maniac… because what else can you call him? The saddest part- other than the children- is the fact there are people who hear the words “Domestic Violence” and immediately start their diatribe of hate… she should have never been with him- why did she stay- if that was me… and on and on and on. I even saw a comment based on the fact that she lived in community housing- poor ignorant woman- too dumb to know any better… probably didnt even have a high school diploma…. WAIT, is that what protects you from Domestic Violence? A High School Diploma? Or a college degree? A good job… what is it really? Let me tell you what- I probably used to think some of those same things… not the ignorant part or racial BS I have read… I was the one that always said MAN, if that was me and that man even TRIED to put his hands on me… blah blah blah. Let me tell you something friends… it doesn’t happen like that. One day you meet a man when you are doing exactly what you are supposed to do… you have the college degrees, you have the career- you have the perfect children… all that is missing is a man to share your life with… when he walks into your life- everything is good… you quickly realize it was HIM that you were missing- before you know it- he IS your everything because everyone else is gone. You don’t realize it at first- the way you were separated from everyone and everything- but you were just so darn happy. Then, something crazy happens… maybe not totally violent- but crazy… scary… part of you stops and says, wait a minute… but before you can answer yourself, everything is back to normal with some excuse- I forgot my meds- i was upset over my mom being sick… whatever. You think, yeah- that’s not him… but you start, in your peripheral vision, to see things… little things… attitudes where you never noticed attitudes before… things that make you uncomfortable in the bedroom- suddenly he has to know who you are talking to- where you are going- at all times. You think at first it is sweet that he is jealous… but it is more than that- he has become possessive. He suddenly doesn’t care how he talks to you in front of others- and you find yourself saying “sorry” a whole lot… you feel guilty for not being good enough- for making him mad. When the real aggression comes- you feel like it is your fault… You hide the bruises by wearing long sleeves or layers- whatever it takes. You tell yourself when it is just bruises because he has grabbed you too hard that he just didn’t realize how strong he was= didn’t mean to hurt you- and the first time he does- the first time he slaps you, or hits you with his fist- you are already “that woman”. He has groomed you. He has you brainwashed. You don’t even know what has happened. The next thing you know, you are on your hands and knees cleaning up your own blood at 2 in the morning while he looms over you, making sure you do it right. Knowing you have to be at work in a few hours. Knowing you have to be quiet when the pain comes because your children are at the other end of the house and if they hear, they will come and check- and you don’t want that to happen. You don’t want them to know- and you have no idea what he will do when he is like this. You look at him and he spits in your face and laughs… You have no idea how you got to this point. How you are missing teeth and clutching what can only be broken ribs- but still you scrub- because if you don’t, it will only get worse. You tell no one… how can you? So much is your fault you think. You should have listened… before the family and friends went away, they saw what you didn’t- but you didn’t listen to them, only to him when he told you that they were jealous of your love…. How can you now go crawling back like this and tell them they were right? How embarrassing. Besides, you love him so very much. He is the air that you breathe- you cannot even think straight when he is not around. You feel you would die without his presence. Only later, you realize how crazy that was… How you were suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome or some mental breakdown to love a man that hurts you for his pleasure… but that thought comes later. When you get to a point that you THINK you have had enough, you call the police. Surely, they will help you, right? But they have been there before when others have called and you lied- you took up for him… they are tired of seeing your face- they are tired of you covering for him… you are the opposite of the boy who cried wolf- and they simply aren’t asking anymore. You beg- but he is smart. this time it was only threats- he only held the knife to your neck- no marks… your word against his. You beg them to take him away- you try to lock him out-  and the police- those who are supposed to protect you, they stand there and tell him that this is his legal residence and you cannot kick him out- tell you that you have to let him in… they tell him he could kick the door in and there is nothing you could do because this is his house, too. They tell him he could back a u-haul up to the door and empty the house and there would be nothing you could do about it. They tell you to get a restraining order or they cannot help… finally, he leaves- but you know he will be back. The game has changed. You have gotten stronger and have stopped blindly following his every direction like a child. He is not having fun anymore, so he has to find a new way to have his fun. One night, before you can get the restraining order, you are jerked awake because he has broken in while you slept and you are awakened by him snatching you by your ankle out of the bed- and this time he doesn’t hold back. Your head hits the floor, but not enough for there to be blood. He beats you in the head until you are sure that you are going to die. You cry and beg while he laughs.  You are truly broken. You are a shell of the woman you were when he walked into your life. The new game continues and is more cruel that ever. Eventually, somehow- someway- many beatings later- you find the strength to end it. You get the evidence- you have him arrested- but it never really ends. As long as he is breathing air somewhere, you are in fear. Even when you get the restraining order- even when he is in jail- even when you get granted a divorce- you still know he can find you. Even when he moves to a new victim and goes to jail for beating her as well- you still know as long as he has breath in his lungs, you are not safe. You have become a truly educated woman. Educated in something no woman should ever be educated in. You know that you are the lucky one. And, when you turn on the tv and see that a woman whose child you taught, a woman who you now know had so much more in common with you than you could ever imagine, you know that it could easily have been you. You know education doesn’t matter. Status, income, a good job. When it comes down to it, all women are vulnerable- all women are….eligible… for this type of evil to walk into their lives. The only difference is that, so far, you have survived. But you know, as you get ready to go to sleep in that bed- that bed that was your torture chamber for so long- you know that you were so close to being exactly where this woman is today. If you have never walked in those shoes- you cannot judge- and I wish, as I feel the tears running down my face for a woman I never had a kind exchange with- I wish we had realized we were sisters in a way not many women are. I wished I had of known and I could have helped. All I can do now is pray for her children- hope they did not witness this- hope they are not scarred from this- and pray that they do not continue this evil in their own lives. If no other lesson their mother ever taught them sticks- let it be the realization of what can happen if you become a victim of this kind of depravity. Let them use her death to lead their lives in a direction away from the pain that ended their mother’s life.

God have mercy on them… on us… all.

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