Trigger Warning: This piece deals with physical and mental abuse and contains graphic language.
By Candace Roberts
We train our kids to know, “stranger-danger” these days, but my escape from my abuser finally happened by a “stranger-savior”. In a gas station parking lot, I watched the stranger mouth, “monster” as my abuser was ferociously banging my head into the driver side window. I was in the driver’s seat and his hand was reached from the outside with a firm grip on my long dark brown hair. I was in shock and couldn’t believe what was happening.
The woman clung on to her cell phone and called the cops. I saw her mouthing the report off to the dispatcher. She backed up and drove away horrified. That was the first time and the last time I ever saw that angel. I wish I could have thanked her.
I was horrified, too. But, ironically not for my life or safety, rather for my reputation and knowing that I would be embarrassed if any one else saw me in that situation.
As she sped away, I saw her yelling something to my abuser-boyfriend and he yelled back at her enraged to “Mind your own business, CUNT.” He soon realized that the 10th slam of my head into the window was making me dizzy and then proceeded to race to the other side of the car to try to open it and take over the driver’s seat.
Disoriented, I quickly located the lock doors button on the armrest of the door, but was not quick enough to account for the lowered window. His arm reached in as I frantically tried to draw up the window, but he didn’t mind the pain of it shutting on him, and pulled up the lock. I was petrified. He was belligerent and he was in.
I started screaming, I started the car to somehow knock him out the car like in the movies. He bit me. He bit my arm. Hard. It fucking hurt.
Then, he bit me again and bent back my finger with all his athletic might urging me to let go of the keys in the ignition. I lost my leverage. Aggressively, he lifted me up and slammed me down onto the emergency brake, he then kicked me into the passenger seat, all of it reeling in my head like a movie. I felt like I was floating, watching all of this happen, and that it couldn’t be happening to me, and I was growing even more scared and uncertain of my role in the scenes to come.
I was curled up in the fetal position and cowering in the corner of the seat, at the furthest point away from where he could reach me. But, it didn’t matter because he still could. He was completely wasted from ten hours of binge drinking with his teammates and colored red in rage. His eyes looked like blank vegetative nothingness and I felt doomed.
All of this happened in a matter of 2 minutes and as quickly as the violence escalated, it seemed my guardian angels flew down to carry me out of there. Cops were at the scene within seconds. They had cornered our truck and demanded that my abuser step out of it. They asked me a in a nicer tone. I shook like a newly rescued dog. They blanketed me that cold night and armed me with a statement and official report of Domestic Violence.
My abuser was taken that very second to the downtown jailhouse, two days later he was transported to a detention center where he would be put on trial and then deported for his illegal alien residency. One of our mutual friends came to pick me up. I stayed at her house for 3 days. No one knew where I was and I wasn’t ready to tell.
When we got to her apartment overlooking Lake Union, the calming view of the city lights and the water balanced me down to a more ‘normal’ high. Adrenaline had peaked for so long, that it almost seemed like a quiet lie that any of it had ever happened.
The friend took pictures of the bite marks on my arm. She sent them to me. She counseled me, she listened to me, she loved me through and through the shock and disbelief. I knew she was in utter shock, too.
At one time, she had actually had a crush on my abuser. Rumors even flew around that they had been intimate at one time. The shock of his behavior rocked her, but she shifted to be my rock in that moment.
After nearly two months of couch hopping, I went home to my parents. I told them where my boyfriend was, I told them why, I told them how long I had been living in that condition and that I wish they had believed me earlier. It was a painful time where the truth destroyed my family. But, it had to be told.
Abuse is a sick thing. It reforms patterns, routines, tests and diminishes your ego, your spirit darkens, you become a numb-robotic shell, and you feel like you can’t get out. You obey your abuser, you live for their lies, and you stop living for yourself.
I was stuck. Badly. It’s unbelievable now for me to think of the energy that I spent in the days following my abusers arrest. I drove 2 hours and 20 minutes in traffic roundtrip-every day for a month- from my parents’ house to the Detention Center. I spent my days in the waiting halls, waiting and wondering when I would be granted my 30 minutes. My abuser and I would continue our relationship for nearly 7 months after he was deported for the US. Phone calls, skypes, packages, emails, texts, letters that declared thousands of apologizes, I love you’s, let’s get married, we will be together again. La la la. It took a physical and deliberate energy to get away from him and therapy to rehabilitate myself and gain a sense of agency. Thank God and for my angels, and my dear family and friends that carried me. The healing took long and it was not easy work for them or for myself, but it was worth it.
Looking back at myself sitting in the detention hall waiting area, I realize I was always so giddy and hopeful, sick mask of puppetry. The guards all liked me and I could feel their sorrow for my delusion emanate through their sad smiles. They saw my desperate dedication like so many others in my shoes. I wonder now if maybe they each said an extra prayer for me at night, maybe that’s part of why I don’t own those shoes anymore.
Abuse can appear in so many forms. Coercion and manipulation, put-downs, controlling account information and finances, controlling food, diet and medicine. It can be physical, emotional, mental harm and includes secrets that hold control and power over you. I’m saying a prayer and cultivating the energy of safe, honest, united, love to allow you to think about yourself or a loved one who may be going through this, and allow you to surrender to a an easier more joyful life. To take that brave step and walk in a different direction, if not just to see where it takes you. You are capable. You are powerful. You are SO worth the change to watch yourself blossom free. Blessing of abundant strength & loving empowerment, to you. You’ve got this.
Candace Roberts is a graduate from the University of Washington in Seattle who spends her days teaching children’s yoga and adult yin & meditation classes, writing children’s books and award winning articles on self-awareness. She is a parent and mother of two brilliant children and lives with her partner and family in the Seattle area.