I remember the first time he threw me into a wall. I was so small, it looked like a scene from the cartoons I liked to watch while eating sugary cereal: a tiny body just sliding to the ground.
The times after that aren’t as clear. They just blend together, my history written in bruises and scars across my skin. No one bothered to protect me; they were all too busy ignoring the problem to fix it. I understand, though. It may have taken a lot of energy to pretend nothing was wrong.
It’s harder for me to ignore the bones that didn’t heal right. I still see the marks hiding just behind my hairline and the way some of my joints don’t sit the way they should.
I have to wonder if that’s what led to the rape. I just wanted so desperately to feel like I was worth something, I didn’t think twice about jumping in that car with those boys. I knew them from school, and they were so popular. They drive me to the woods, and held me down… At least in that instance they covered my mouth. That’s why no one responded to my screams, even though they were just through the trees. This time, no one could hear me.
I’m not mad at anyone. Not anymore. Those boys forgot who I was the moment they were done. A couple years later we would attend parties together. My friends would date them. I had to learn to just accept it, and stay silent. And my father is my father. We don’t speak of it. It’s probably better that way.
That’s why I chose the man I did. I found his anger comforting. “Finally,” I thought. “Someone to protect me.” It actually worked. Until he turned it on me. Now I don’t even care if I live or die. I don’t think I’d fight it.
I’m not about to wind up on Oprah or anything from the way he treats me. It would just be nice to not have a panic attack when I’m ten minutes late, or to not check the room for knives when he starts to yell. It would be nice to feel like I was worth something, rather than being told repeatedly that I’m not, or that I’m stupid, or selfish, or a bitch or a cunt. I would like to not be forced to have sex, and to not be screamed at and threatened for not making the right sounds.
No one will know this. Why should they? I’m just the dumb girl that stays with her husband. They don’t know that part of me does love him because he can be kind and sweet. They don’t know that I can’t afford to go anywhere. They don’t know I’d be a failure if I did. And modestly they don’t know that I deserve this.
I deserve this.
This is the only way I’ve ever known love. But when he shoves me and punches the wall by my head, I just think of the first time I was thrown into a wall. I was so small.