At the ripe age of 26, I found myself in a full-blown abusive relationship.
Almost exactly a year ago today I left Ike for good. For 1.5 years he wrapped his physical and mental manacles around me and then sucked the life and breath out of me (HP Dementor style).
He promised to change. He did. He started doing cocaine, smoking excessive amounts of marijuana, he started stealing money from me, and drank every night. He’d leave for 36 hours at a time (on one of his benders). I’m sure he was unfaithful, but infidelity doesn’t hold a candle to the other pain he inflicted.
He convinced me to quit teaching. He convinced me that I was worthless without him. He belittled my abilities unless he was somehow attached to an achievement. Ike made one-sided demands of my time and effort, but never reciprocated.
At his best, he was the man I fell in love with: charming, passionate, loving, and supportive. At his worst, he was a disgusting monster. I was tripped, choked, insulted…broken down. There were times I knew the abuse was coming; he’d go to my purse, locate my cell phone, and smash it to tiny pieces. Why? Because the bruises and blood were enough that I didn’t want to travel to another phone. I was humiliated. He knew it.
Ike was smart. My wounds always resembled some injury that could have been accidental or self-inflicted. He would sweep my feet out from under me so I fell in conveniently dangerous places (near stairs or by glass). He would then stand over me so I couldn’t get up and, if I tried, he would violently push me back to the floor, laughing the entire time.
Why didn’t I leave?
My income as a freelance writer was minuscule, my self-esteem vanished, and I was so alienated from my friends and family that I didn’t think I had anywhere to turn. I left my job, my family, and my friends for him. He had me exactly where he wanted me. Alone. I needed him.
It was this week last year that I left.
Ike and I were working on several writing projects for his father’s business. He woke me up at 6:00 and told me I needed to shower. Then, with a towel wrapped around my body, I walked out of the bathroom to find him getting high with a friend. (Yes, it was probably 6:30 a.m. at this point).
He demanded that I fix my hair and makeup. While doing so, he wanted access to my computer. Once I was ready, he asked me to open some personal writing. I told him I was uncomfortable sharing this with his friend.
This became the first (and last) time in our relationship that he attacked me in front of anyone else. Ike threw me down the stairs and, almost as quickly met me at the floor below. He repeatedly kicked me when I made it to the basement floor. My head against a concrete wall, he pinned me against it with one arm. His eyes that used to be so safe were now mortifying. I was sure my ankle was broken and my face was bleeding.
I heard the front door open and shut, then his friend’s car engine started. He left. There on the floor, I thought I was going to die. If Ike was angry enough to assault me in front of someone else, would their flight cause him to become more enraged? Would he feel that he’d already done enough damage that he might as well finish me off?
He was making it difficult to breathe and I couldn’t run with an injured leg. In that moment, I knew that I needed to save my life.
I spit blood in his eye. Startling him, I had enough time to jump to my feet. The pain in my ankle subsided (thank God for adrenaline).
“If you want to hurt me, fucking do it. Come on Ike, hit me. I’m waiting for it, you piece of shit. You think you’re tough because you can beat up a small girl? I’ll let you. You win you pathetic asshole. I’m done fighting this. Get it over with.”
That was the last time I saw him.
Ike didn’t stop trying to contact me. He began texting regularly, asking if it was too late to work things out. Then, when I didn’t answer I started seeing his face in random places. Literally.
His face was on a billboard less than a mile from my home, he posted advertisements in a place that I had been working part-time, his company’s pens were in every gas station he knew that I went to (for my morning coffee). He was everywhere.
Initially, I thought I was being paranoid, but I checked other gas stations in the area to be certain I wasn’t crazy. No pens. No advertisements in other establishments (similar to my part-time job). He was putting these in strategic places to make sure I would see them.
My house went on the market within a week. It was time to move. Clearly, he thought he’d always have a connection to me (remember that his office was 1.5 blocks away…within eyesight).
If I wanted to recover, I knew I couldn’t do it where he’d be able to find me.