Laying the Smackdown…

I don’t get the chance to do it as often as I used to, but watching Maury Povich used to be one of my favorite things to do. I’m not afraid to admit that little piece of ratchitness about myself, because balancing that side of me with the rest of me keeps me at one with the universe. Anyway, if you watch Maury you know he only does about 5 topics: “You ARE/NOT the father!” Drag queens, Jack Hanna’s animals, wild teen girls, and women who can’t escape their boyfriends. A friend was tweeting yesterday about how this woman was getting her teeth kicked in by her husband on the regular to the point she was wearing a full set of dentures before age 30.

Part of me felt terrible for her, another wondered why the hell my friend was home watching Maury instead of working, and a small part of me, one that usually hides herself behind the fat girl cravings for French fries and cookies (in the same bite) was thanking the universe it wasn’t me up there. For some reason, reading that tweet took me to a place I don’t visit often, not because I can’t afford to, but because I don’t want to mess up my good luggage in that filthy ass airport of my memory. For those of you who don’t know, I was in a relationship before my current one that lasted pretty much the entirety of my college career. It was with a man who was 7 years my senior, one that began when I was a 16-year-old senior in high school and he a 23-year-old entrepreneur looking to establish himself in the business world. Right off bat it sounds like some shit off To Catch a Predator right? Well it wasn’t. We started off trying to make money off each other, since I was a budding English major with a proofreading eye and he had a business plan that needed some looking over.

After a few months of casual friendship that went on while I discovered myself in a new city, he came back from a trip to tell me he loved me. We began in an “open relationship,” which meant we could date other people, no sex, as long as we told each other beforehand and were up front about everything. That turned into a monogamous situation soon thereafter, and Pinky was officially off the market. A lot of people, my mother in particular, weren’t comfortable with us being together because they thought he was taking advantage of a young girl, trying to manipulate her into a woman she wasn’t ready to be yet. Of course I didn’t see it that way; I was a grown woman who didn’t need anyone making choices for me and would “ride it out” with my man against all odds. He’d often tell me he was molding me into the person he wanted me to be, preparing me for the type of woman he wanted to marry and who deserved to marry him. At that age, I thought what he was doing was normal and didn’t see his slithering for what it really was.

As time went on, he became more controlling and possessive, wanting to know where I was, what I was doing, and with whom I was doing it, else I was accused of every dirty trick in the book and then some. He had a temper and could anger very easily, so hurtful words spewing from his mouth weren’t new to me. I’ve always had an air of confidence to myself (that was fake at times to keep up appearances), but even the most arrogant person can become a little discouraged when they are constantly torn down. Katt Williams plays in the back of my head asking about how the fuck I can let someone take away the esteem of my motherfucking self, but let me tell you this and say it so you get it: No one has the power to hurt you like the person you love the most. You can be the smartest, most beautiful, athletic, rich person walking this earth, but when the person who has your heart sees none of that, none of it matters. I found myself making excuses for his behavior, telling myself that I should’ve watched what I said instead of angering him, that I had provoked this latest outburst. When he was upset about something I had nothing to do with, sometimes I’d get snarls and smart words for trying to make the situation better, and every time that happened, I buried a little piece of my heart to protect it.

One day as I stood in the shower vomiting from the ulcer I had developed, eyes red and puffy from crying for two hours, late for work and having missed all morning classes because I couldn’t drag myself out of bed, I realized I was being abused. I had no scars on my body and I had never reported anything to the authorities, but the way I was feeling, the fact that I was isolated from some of the most important people in my life because of my relationship, pointed to a serious problem. He had me in the palm of his hand, and had told me over and over again “You’ll never find somebody else to love you like I can.” It’s the classic line of an abuser, but I thought it was just him expressing emotion. I had actually begun to believe that he was the only man who would treat me “well,” and that was when I knew I had hit rock bottom. As a Golden Child of sorts, I had been told all my life of my value and worth, and had more than enough suitors who wanted my attention. However, here I was breaking down on the train, having to leave class because I couldn’t stop the tears, lowering my GPA slowly because I just didn’t want to do work – FOR A MAN! I told myself plenty of times I needed to end the relationship, but after 3 days of ignoring my calls and only texting me to call me dirty names, he would woo me back into his good graces and the cycle began all over again.

In December, he was in Philly to keep me company after my roommate went away for about a week or so, and we were sort of playing house. One day we went shopping and I happened to spend about $350 on random items, attempting to treat myself to get me out of my little funk. He had been in an attitude most of the day, so by the time we got back to my apartment I wasn’t really feeling him too much. After I put the lasagna on the oven to cool, I walked into my room to find him rifling through the bags I had brought home, telling me some of the stuff needed to go back because I had spent too much. He had given me about $100 toward my purchases, so after about 10 minutes of arguing, in a rage I threw that same amount of cash in his face and told him I didn’t need him. That sent him into a fury of throwing my stuff out of my closet and flinging it at me, with one of the items being a belt whose buckle hit me in the eye. I was blinded first by my tears, then by anger, and flew at him with my fist balled. It hit his right jaw and I went again for his temple, knocking his glasses off his face and pushing him into the wall. He seemed shocked that I had struck him, and it was on.

My hair, the beautiful black curls that he claimed were the only thing he noticed about me when we first met, became tangled around his fist as he grabbed my head and started ramming it into the wall. To this day, my roommate still doesn’t know I patched up that hole in the wall while she was away, hoping I didn’t leak blood on the carpet as I wiped the Sheetrock. He pulled me into the living room and threw the hot lasagna all over the living room and on my back, burning me and staining our cream-colored couch. The bottle of wine that rested on the table tripped me as I fell on the floor, and he picked it up and doused me with the liquid. In pain but refusing to be beaten, I lunged at him with everything I had and sent him flying out of the apartment (the door was cracked) into the hallway. It was a tiny house without much moving room, so his next move was to toss me, by my hair, down the stairs. I lived on the 3rd floor and it was a long ride down to the bottom, crying and bleeding and hoping none of the other girls who lived in the house with me would hear. I ran out  of my front door with him chasing me onto the step, where we wrestled again with the wine bottle that was eventually cracked over my forehead. Once I mentioned I was calling the police, he fled somewhere into the dark Philly night, taking my house keys, cell phone and the cash I had thrown at him.

There was a Dunkin Donuts around the corner, so I stumbled there looking a crazy mess, and asked a girl to use her cell phone. I tried to ignore the pitiful look she gave me as I told the police I was in a domestic dispute, and thought to myself “How did I become this woman?” The next person I called was his mother, to tell her her son wouldn’t be coming home because I had called the cops, and she begged me not to do so. She had been beaten for years by her husband, my ex’s father, so she knew the deal with calling a black eye “an accident” and lying to people about why she was limping. For the life of me I can’t remember what she said to make me not press charges, but when the cops showed up I told them I made a mistake by calling. They too, gave me the “Lady you’re stupid” look, but for some reason I still wanted to protect him.

About two hours later when the bruises formed and the blood was dry, he returned to my apartment and I let him in. We had sex that night and I cried the entire time, feeling burning shame with every thrust he made in me. It was as if he was trying to fuck my dignity into me, but all I could feel was terror and disgust. The next day, when the damage was fully apparent, when my arms were black and blue and a patch of my hair on the right side was missing, he cried like many abusers do and promised he would never do something like that again. And he didn’t…until the next time.

Before the relationship ended, we had gone to blows about twice more, neither as serious as the first one, and a little piece of me died with each one. I only told a few people about this EVER because I didn’t want to think of the shame, relive the anger with myself, and the hurt associated with it. The new man in my life, the one who’s taken painful steps to repair this woman, has been patient with me and still is as I grow from this and with him. I have trouble with expressing emotion, and I’m just now starting to realize it’s probably because I was pushing that part of myself into the background for so long. I had been like a squirrel, burying my true self in a hole dug by my abuser to keep his foot in my neck and have me under his control. Emerging from this cocoon is a long and difficult process that I struggle with to this day. I wrote this from a place of peace – incomplete peace, but still peace nonetheless.

I regret not standing up for myself and pressing charges, because maybe I could’ve been the one to teach him a lesson. Men who come from homes where their mothers are beaten usually turn out one of two ways: they become abusers themselves, or they try to distance themselves from their fathers as much as possible by being good, upstanding men. In my ex’s case, no one had taken the time to show him the example of a man who deserved to be the head of his household. He was an emotionally disturbed child who brought that into his adulthood and eventually, into his relationship with me. I couldn’t change him while we were together, but I feel like my redemption will come in teaching my son to be the man his father is to me: a loving, protecting, nurturing man who is strong enough to lead, but sensitive enough to share the responsibility; a man who isn’t threatened by his woman’s independence and wants her to experience all life has to offer instead of being stuck up under him.

Abuse doesn’t always mean bumps and scrapes and dark glasses with makeup – it can take many forms and it’s up to the victim to speak up, SAY SOMETHING so the same fate doesn’t happen to someone like you. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but hey, it’s a #beautifulstruggle.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Pinks Lays the Smackdown on her Abused Past | Venus Genus
  2. Tiffany Galloway
    May 19, 2011 @ 14:59:01

    As I read your words, I fought back tears unsuccessfully. The courage that you have shown in exposing this intimate part of yourself is unparalleled. I am encouraged by your words Pinks…truly. Thank you for this.

    Reply

  3. Tina
    May 19, 2011 @ 15:45:10

    It’s amazing what history is held so deep inside. One day I would hope to be as courageous in telling my story as you. As well as the many women in my family. Thank you. Granted, I am now an emotional wreck, but I needed this.

    Reply

  4. PinkSugarMaven
    May 19, 2011 @ 15:48:13

    Damn. I definitely almost cried at the end. This was one hell of a relationship but I think most women know that “molding” and backlash all too well. This was EXCELLENTLY written and I love the fact I know Ricky personally and can say he’s exactly the one you deserve that will dedicate himself to you, your son and your family.

    Reply

  5. LaNeshe
    May 19, 2011 @ 17:54:51

    I commend you for sharing such an intimate story, and hope that others can learn from it

    Reply

  6. Jazz
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 14:39:25

    Wow…reading this blog…has made me truly realize how phenomenal we are…We hide what is going on in our lives …We have to continue to save face in front of our friends and fam…to random strangers…I cried (of course) reading this as I am recollecting the “beige couch” the “tiny apartment” not realizing that there was pain within these walls that I could not even recognize …or didnt want to for my own selfish reasons. I just wish that I could have been there to protect you… (I would have showed him B* I’m from the 3rd *inside) Look at you now tho! You are a true testament to the journey of success…Proud of you!

    Reply

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