He beat me viciously. He was slapping me, punching me, and kicking me everywhere he could. I had bleeding cuts on my face. I was trying to find a way out but the only unlocked door close to me lead to the balcony and my only option would have been to jump to my death. He slapped and punched and kicked me some more. There was a small open space between the lounge and the kitchen, I don’t know what it is called but it’s used to pass food from the kitchen to the lounge. I managed to crawl through it but got only halfway through before he started dragging me back. I grabbed the closest thing I could from the kitchen; a knife. If I knew or could see where his heart was from the position I was in, he would be a dead man today. I ripped his shirt and stabbed him all over his chest and back until he let me go. That is how I lived to tell this story today. I ran away from his house and back to school.
My best friend came over the next morning and found me in bed. I hadn’t told her about any of the abuse I was going through. She took the covers off me and saw the blood stains on my sheets. She looked at me and my face was swollen. I didn’t know how bad I looked. She figured out what had happened, and tried to make me go to the hospital and to the police. I said no. He could have killed me, and he knew powerful people. I was terrified.
He came to see me. No,he didn’t come to apologise. I’m the one who apologised. I don’t know what for. And I still didn’t think about leaving him.
College closed soon after this incident and I went away to another country for two months. At this time internet was dodgy so communication was difficult and expensive. He would call sometimes but in those two months we barely spoke. Two days after I came back he told me that our relationship could not work, and he left.
In the year that he left I felt even more hopeless. I could not go anywhere or do anything because I did not know how to go back to being myself. He was and did everything for me in those seven years that I did not know life beyond him. I did not go for any kind of counselling after he left. It has been nine years and my family members still do not know that any of this happened to me. Two weeks ago I told my closest cousin and at first she thought I was making it up. Her reaction made me realise that there is a lot to learn about how to approach and support people that have been victims of abuse. She called me stupid. She said I was stupid for allowing a man to take advantage of me and to “finish” me the way he did. According to her I am the strongest person she knows and so I should not have allowed a man to abuse me and treat me in the manner that he did.
I am a writer today. I had a shaky start because everything my ex said about my talent stayed with me. I believed I’d never make it as a writer. I never thought anyone would pay attention to my writing. I never imagined I’d be sitting today and interviewing people for a publication. Long after we broke up my ex saw my article in a magazine. He called me and asked who was writing those articles, I told him I was. He hung up. And that was that.
If you’re looking for a happy ending, or the kind of story where the victim faces her fear and leaves the man abusing her, this is not that story. The thing about abuse is that it leaves you in the deepest denial. Most of us ignore abuse, especially the people on the receiving end of abuse. As a victim you do not know if speaking up is the right thing to do; for many reasons. For me, I did not want people to call me weak, I did not want pity parties. My personality is that of someone who is able to stand on their own. That is how people saw me and I felt that admitting I was being abused made me weak. I did not want people to look at me differently. On top of that I did not want to implicate him because he is a celebrated journalist. I was also protecting my family. I did not want their name dragged through the mud. The truth is there very, very, few people that are on a woman’s side in cases of abuse. I did try go to the police again at one point. They asked me why I was reporting a case against my boyfriend when I should be grateful I had one. They accused me of trying to tarnish his name. And that is why a lot of people don’t speak up about abuse. But you know that already.
So maybe this is not the story of triumph you usually hear, but I am here and I am alive. I am standing on my own two feet. With my story I would like to tell anyone who is going through the same to please tell someone. Do not do what I did. Do not keep it to yourself. You never know where you might end up. Sometimes victims of abuse leave boldly through the front door, sometimes silently through the back door , but some only escape through a coffin. You could end up dead for the sake of protecting someone who does nothing but tear you down. I know it is very difficult. I know. Believe me I know. But please, for your own sake, please try.
NB:This is a true story. I interviewed the survivor and wrote her story. For her safety, and privacy she chose to remain anonymous. Read chapter 1 here.