When It Happened to Me

Elizabeth Warrener

The day that the irony of it all hit me is a day that I shall never forget. I wanted to cry, but no tears came. An overwhelming urge to write it down is all that I had.

It started when I remembered a story that a dear and valued friend told me over a year ago. She, much to her suprise, found herself pregnant and making plans to change her life into that of a single parent. Laughing, she had commented how funny it was because she had said so much about how single mothers were being irresponsible, because once she had considered them to be "scum of the earth", and here she was now. It certainly opened up her eyes. She was now wiser and regretted what she had said.

What struck me was the realisation that exactly the same sort of thing had happened to me, although my issue was different. I was confronting domestic violence. I had believed that women who suffered through it, asked for it. I believed they held the power to control or avoid it, but chose not to. And now here I was a victim of it.

The only woman I know who had been abused in this way is my mother. I know about it because I lived through it and its aftermath. I could easily identify what it was that my mother said that caused my father to react so violently towards her. Being seven years old at the time it seemed to me that if she just didn't say those things, it wouldn't happen. Simple.

I can remember the last two times it happened to me very clearly. I am sure that it had happened at least once or twice before that, but they are now holes in my memory put there by terror, panic and disbelief.

The first incident I remember happened for me in slow motion. I saw the madness in his eyes as he lept out of the bed at me. His face was red and his mouth slightly frothed. His hands were outstretched heading straight for my throat. They made contact with it in the hallway as I had backed up against the wall. Over and over he repeated "I want you dead", as the back of my head hit the door when he shook me. I didn't struggle or panic, I didn't care if he did kill me. I just wanted it over and done with one way or the other.

He was very sorry about it afterwards of course. He said that I made him do it, so I should recognise that and learn my lesson. He suffered no guilt, as he said, because he was not in the slightest bit responsible for the incident. Then he pointed out to me that he is one of the nicest most sincere men that I was likely to meet, and I was a bad person for making him act that way. I took this on because it was perfectly consistent with my childhood beliefs.

The second time we were arguing in the dining room. I was sick of him making emphatic statements then storming out of the room. So when he tried to leave again, I grabbed his jumper. He turned on me. His eyes went wild and he pounded full strength on my forearm to break my hold. Then he swung at me with his other fist hitting me in the chest. The next blow impacted so hard on my shoulder that I was knocked back six meters into the kitchen. Losing my balance, teetering backwards with him following me, he pushed me. I remember thinking to look out for my head as I was going down near the corner of the bench. I fell amongst the rubbish and recycling stuff very awkwardly and he kicked me in the shin. That was three weeks ago and my bruises are only just starting to fade.

He was very sorry about it afterwards of course. He said that I made him do it, so I should recognise that and learn my lesson. He continued to maintain a guilt free existance because I was responsible for the incident. He said that he thought I was mad and should be locked up. Then he pointed out to me again that he is one of the nicest most sincere men that I was likely to meet, and I was an even worse person for making him act that way once more. I continued to take this on because it was still perfectly consistent with my own learned beliefs.

So I had struggled through this issue a lot over the last couple of weeks wondering, had I asked for it ? I knew that physically I was powerless against him. Could I have stopped it? I have been very confused about it all and I am also aware that compared to many domestic violence situations, my story is nothing. I am however making plans to leave this house and this environment. I want to be by myself for a while. I do know that it is time for me to ditch my childhood ideologies and admit that his actions were not excusable or justifiable. Meanwhile everybody else continues to think that he is one of the most caring men that they have ever met, especially his women friends.