THUD. My head sounded hollow and empty as he smashed it into the car window. He screamed insults and threats as he drove around in circles, far enough away from our flat that I couldn’t escape at a red light and run home.
I was no longer shocked at his sudden outburst of violence and cruelty, in the last few years our fights had become increasingly out of control. But I was 21 years old and felt embarrassed, alone and a little bit silly. I wasn’t like some poor repressed woman whose drunkard husband uses her as a punching bag while she sits cowering in a corner. No, my boyfriend was much smarter than that, careful to hit only where no one would see the bruise, and somehow manipulate the argument so I felt responsible for his losing control. Above all, he was an expert in convincing me to stay.
I often fantasised about leaving. On nights when I slept alone in the spare room, too disgusted by him to share our bed, I would plan my escape. Laying in the dark I was always determined. But my schemes and resolve were extinguished with the light of the next day. In the sunshine things never seemed so bad.
But that night in the car, as my head throbbed and insults flowed freely from his acid tongue, I finally reached my breaking point. When he stopped the car to give way, I grabbed my phone and ran. I went to my local safe haven: the pub near our apartment. I knew he wouldn’t follow; he wasn’t man enough to harm me in public. Within the hour a friend came to rescue me and took into her home for “as long as I needed”. Just like that it was over. I knew I was done feeling trapped and scared and alone. I never went back to him.
I think about that night a lot. Now I can see I was carefully and quietly planning my escape for months. Not in the manner of spectacularly walking out on him like I dreamed, but subconsciously I was breaking the emotional bonds that kept me tied to him. I just needed that final push: him smashing my head into the window. It was my own little miracle. That pain finally gave me the strength to leave and never go back.
I hope all women in pain can find their own miracle.
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