I was once a victim of domestic violence. It is very liberating to make that statement. "Hi, I'm Brandy and my ex use to beat the shit out of me on an almost weekly basis." I would have never been able to admit that at any time during my four years of hell with him. No, I was too busy covering bruises and making excuses. I was too busy trying to keep a perfect house and retain my sanity. I was too ashamed to say those words...even to those who loved me the most and saw every bruise I tried to hide.
I have always considered myself "strong" and independent so believe me it shocked the hell out of me when I woke up the morning after my first attack still in bed with him. My thoughts yo-yoed between, 'did that really happen?' to 'what the fuck? why are you still here?'. In the light of day, his apologies seemed so sincere I justified to myself what had happened. He didn't really hit me, (he picked up the mattress with me on it and threw it...and me... across the room) and when he threw that shoe and it hit my face, he was surely aiming at the wall. I chalked it up to the beer he had been drinking because he was not like "that". He loved me and he would never intentionally hurt me...or the baby I was carrying.
It seemed though that night unleashed a dark side of him that he had previously concealed from me. The insults, the intimidation, the controlling behavior grew along with my expanding belly. And when he felt the mental and emotional abuse wasn't quite getting his point across, he brought out the big guns. His fists.
"How dare you say you say you want a horse? You know I'm allergic to horses!" SLAP!
"Get the fuck out of my house, you stupid bitch. All you think about is yourself. Go find some other man to buy you a fucking horse!"
I thought after the baby was born things would be different but as you have probably already guessed, they only got worse.
"This house is a fucking mess! What the fuck have you been doing all day?"
"Ummm...I cleaned the house."
"You cleaned the house? Then tell me why THIS drawer in the kitchen is so messy?"
"Because it's the junk drawer."
SLAP! "We don't have junk drawers in this house!"
"Yes we do! It is right HERE! Everyone has a junk drawer, there is nothing wrong with it!"
"You only have a junk drawer because you are lazy and you are a whore and you are going to end up just like your mother!"
I shit you not, those were real fights. I still haven't figured out how having a junk drawer makes me a whore.
By the time I had spent four years with this man, I was so beat down emotionally that I was no longer living. I was barely surviving. There were days when I didn't want to get out of bed...there were days I wanted to drown myself in the bathtub...there were days I wanted to drive off in my car and never come home. But I couldn't do any of those things. I had my kids to think about.
Why did I stay? That is the first question that comes to everyone's mind when they hear my story. I wish I had a good answer for that. But like most women who are victims of abuse...I had nowhere to go. I didn't have a job. I didn't have a car. I didn't have any self esteem. I didn't have self confidence. And as crazy as it sounds, I was scared to leave. What is that saying, "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't"?
In the end, I left for my daughter. She was in third grade and I was finding that more and more I could not look her in the eye. I knew I was doing a great disservice to her by subjecting her to this tyrant who wasn't her father. I was doing a great disservice to all three of my children by allowing them to be raised in a home where their mother was routinely beaten. I left because I was starting to see my sorrow reflected in all of their eyes.
I watched Ray Rice apologize to the world about his "inexcusable" behavior; he apologized to everyone under the sun...except Janay. And I was glad he didn't, because there is no apology big enough to make up for what he did.
I hope with all my heart that this was indeed an isolated event. I hope that Janay Rice never has to look away from the questions and hurt in her daughter's eyes.
I hope that if any of you reading this are suffering at the hands of an abusive partner, you will quickly find yourself out of harms way. I know you can do it.
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you
really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I lived
through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." You must do
the thing you think you cannot do."