A lifetime ago, I was married to the man of my dreams; the first person I ever met at college and my best friend from that day until graduation. We married shortly after graduation and then Real Life started happening.
I worked as an RN while my husband had trouble finding a job. I'd go to work for twelve hours, come home, cook, clean, pay all the bills and 'take care' of my man while he seemed to be getting more and more resentful of me. Female friends told me that I 'didn't need to shove it in his face' that I was the breadwinner and an "occasional insult, push or shove was no big deal." As the insults, pushes and shoves became more frequent, I told myself: He doesn't mean it. He's really a great guy. He's never been like this before. I'm not the easiest person to live with anyway and no man wants to live off 'his woman.' Besides, it's not like he's ever punched me.
That all changed one Sunday morning.
I came home that morning from the night shift to find 'him' seated at the kitchen table wanting 'his breakfast.' I went back to the living room for something and 'he' came in there, pushed me onto the couch, grabbed me by my ears tearing the left one off and banged my head against the wall. He hit me on the left side of my head rupturing my eardrum then punched me in the face breaking my jaw. He said things like, "If you knew how to do anything right, I wouldn't have to do this." "You think you're better than me because you have a job." Then, "Yeah, you WOULD have to go and bleed, wouldn't you! Now I have to take you to the hospital."
He drove me to the hospital I had left just a couple of hours before, telling me why I'd made him do what he'd done to me the entire way. I decided right then I was leaving him no matter what. If I went back to him after this--he'd kill me next time and Life is too short for this.
He walked me to the ER and told the admissions clerk (who kind of recognized me but wasn't sure), "She fell." I said as best I could, "He did this to me." "That doesn't matter, " he said, "she needs help."
The staff separated us, took me to a trauma room and began treating me. I told them I wanted to press charges so I spent quite a while having all my injuries photographed as evidence by the police and giving statements. At that time, it was rare for a wife to press charges against her husband and domestic violence wasn't a term yet. It was considered a "private matter between spouses."
I pressed charges, he went to jail, I divorced him and never saw him again. I went thru some post-traumatic stress disorder but the only things that remain are a few scars that have nothing to do with the wonderful life I have made for myself. But I was lucky. I had a career, money, no children by him and above all choices. Very few victims of domestic violence have real choices. For some, all they have is hope...hope that 'he' will change...and the hope that things will get better. Unfortunately, in these situations hope can get you killed.