For some time now, I have been wanting to write a blog about domestic violence and abuse. I have started several with the uncertainty of where to go, what to say, how to say it, or even what I wanted to accomplish when I did finally say whatever it was I wanted (and really needed to say).
Today, I can’t say for certain that I am positive of what needs to be said. But that doesn’t change the reality that someone in my position should — really must — say something. I had almost forgot that reality until I met up with my friend Patrick.
You see, two years ago, Patrick and I had worked together. At the time we weren’t very close. I always thought of Patrick as somewhat down, he looked unhappy, sad, like many middle-aged gay men who had wanted what I want, the perfect “Prince charming and white picket fence fairytale” — but who was scorned and jaded from the rejection and impurities of the gay community. He simply didn’t know how to smile.
Had I known then that he was being abused, I probably would have told him to leave, like all of his friends did when they found out. I certainly wouldn’t have understood it when he said he couldn’t. I wouldn’t have understood it when he said he loved his abuser. I wouldn’t have understood it when he gave his abuser every ounce of his being. I would have probably distanced myself from Patrick, like many of his friends did when he stayed with his abuser, as his abuser continued controlling Patrick’s every thought.
Patrick and I remained acquaintances, and I learned a bit throw the grapevine of what happened when he finally did get away from his abuser. About a year ago, when my ex boyfriend struck a windshield with his fist, nearly putting a hole through it out of frustration and anger — I didn’t think of calling Patrick.
When I noticed the innocence and happiness in my ex boyfriend disappear, I didn’t think of calling Patrick.
When I was told to “stop acting so gay” and to stop being myself, I didn’t think of calling Patrick. When my ex punched me in the face, leaving me with a broken eye socket and a black eye that lasted more than a month, I didn’t think of calling Patrick. Instead, I called no one, I hid, I said nothing.
I didn’t want to believe that the man I loved could hurt me. I didn’t want to believe that the same man I had planned on spending my life with wasn’t that man anymore. Patrick didn’t want to either. The black eye went further, I was strangled, held down, as my ex attempted to end my life with his bare hands.
I was never one to have fight. In seventh grade some punk punched me in the face and I literally turn my face, and asked him to step out of the way so I could enter the bathroom he was blocking. He punched me in the face again, and I stayed calm, until he finally did step aside. When my life was literally at risk of ending beneath my ex boyfriend’s hands, as I grew dizzy and breathless, I didn’t know what to do, so I grabbed his balls and pulled, twisted, yanked until he jumped away, yelling at me, calling it a “pussy move.” I then ran to my kitchen, grabbed a knife, and forced him out of my apartment. I felt ashamed. I felt at fault. And to this day, hate that I was forced to be that person. After that incident, I finally did reach out to Patrick.
Both Patrick and I used each other for support. He was my saver in many respects during that time. Unlike many domestic violence survivors, both of him and I escaped our abusers. That isn’t to say that both of us, like almost all survivors, stuck around longer than we should have, hurting ourselves, in hopes of saving our abusers.
I, for instance, went as far as getting him a phone with a phone plan I paid for and couldn’t afford after he tried to kill me. I had these incredible hopes that my ex boyfriend (and yes, we were exes at this point, in December, his attack that he was arrested for occurred in August) could reach out to his family and friends in Pittsburgh and find the innocence and happiness I knew he once had, and what I fell in love with. I gave him a place to stay when he was homeless for a week, feeding him and helping him in every way possible. I went as far as attempting to get the assault charge, where I was listed as a victim, dismissed.
Thank God the Tempe City prosecutor didn’t buy it and continued pressing the charges. Thank God the judge agreed and in the end, my ex-boyfriend will be on probation for awhile longer, has had to complete both drug/alcohol classes and domestic violence classes. And he isn’t supposed to have any contact with me, though he has made many attempts, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done that same. For awhile there, a huge part of me wanted to save him, Patrick can relate.
What I admire most about Patrick is that he has always been one to speak out about what has happened to him. What Patrick says he admires most about me is my willingness to help my ex-boyfriend, citing me reaching out his family and doing what I could to make sure my ex boyfriend did end up going to rehab, getting the help he so very much needed. On his birthday in March, I went as far as giving my exboyfriend a very meaningful birthday gift.
On that same day, my exboyfriend’s parents contacted me saying he was ready for rehab in Pittsburgh. In that instant, I did what I knew was best, and told them that if he was truly ready for rehab, then he would give that information to them. In the end, he did, because, thankfully, he was finally ready.
To this day, I must say a huge part of me despises my ex. I have, for a very long time, wanted to hate him. But I can’t. There isn’t room in my heart to hate him. I doubt there’s room in Patrick’s heart to hate his, either.
Yes, both Patrick and I hit rock bottom because we let our exes control our lives. We lost everything we held dear, including ourselves.
But in all the angry destruction, chaos, pain (both physical and emotional), fists swung, necks choked, threats, empty promises, and truly just sadness, I found one of the best friends I’ll have for life — and that’s something I wouldn’t trade up for anything. So, while I would certainly love to hate my abusive ex, the part that wants to hate him is overcome with pity and I can honestly say, I hope he is well and finds nothing but happiness in his future — because thanks to him and the awfulness I went through, I found a friend who will ensure I am well and happy, and that’s pretty incredible.