1 minute. A fancy car parked on the side road. Car lights on. People waiting for the stoplight to turn green. Me among them, waiting patiently to cross the street. But something, involuntarily, caught my eye. It was her – on the passenger’s front seat. And him – behind the wheel, on the driver’s seat.
1 minute – that’s how long it took me to figure out the tragic story behind an apparent gentle touch. For such a short while, I was reading. The expression on their faces. Which were contradictory. She was afraid – to stay; but more scared of running. He was in charge… He was pressuring her to kiss him. But no one could have come in between, as no one was interested in such thing. No one will ever know the facts behind such fear. As everyone was in a rush to start their weekend.
I could have stayed, yet I chose to be a coward and move on with the crowd. As my kids were waiting for me to take them home… But I’ll never forget the look on her face! I could feel her pain, determined by the emotional manipulation. She was so afraid of the consequences, that her choice was to stay. Though she was under continuous mental torture. And I know for sure how that feels. I’ve been there myself, more than 10 years ago. And everything came back in seconds…
(You see, you may – at some point – consider that I expose my past experiences just to make my texts more reliable, without actually going through them. But I have – and there is no valid reason for which I would attempt to impress someone just for the sake of reading my articles. I guess all these events, thus being able to empathize with today’s victims, may be what brought me to #SilentVoice campaign. For, now, I understand very well what both physical and emotional abuse mean. And what hides behind a fake, bitter smile. And maybe this is why I am attracted to human behavior analysis and violence combat).
In highschool, I would go for reckless blind dates. I will always remember 2 of them…
One was with a guy 2 heads taller than me. He seemed ok. At first sight. A few dates later, some drug-addict approached us. The guy I was with started a buddy-like talk with the addicted one. And so, his past revealed in a flash. He didn’t, maybe, realize I was there, so he would confess the addict about his time behind bars, due to an “accidental” murder. (I was like: “Oh, my, God, who is this guy?” Useless to say that frighten found shelter in my heart, as I started shaking. Of course, I was all silent, as I was only thinking about running away without looking or EVER going back.) When the addict left, my date turned to me, as if woken from a dream, but realizing I was still there, and said: “You don’t want to go out with me any longer, do you?”
I was afraid and I didn’t know how to handle that question. So I lied when answering: “Of course I do, why not?” But my mind was planning the escape plan and the shortest path. I accepted that terror state of mind for another few (loooooong) minutes, till the date was (finally) up. I tried to behave normally, but my heart was racing home long before my body did. When I got home, I was afraid again. Afraid to tell my parents. So I hid it.
Another call, another date request from the guy. Another episode I didn’t know how to handle. So I went on another date. On my way, the only thing on my mind was to end it. But how? I was afraid… But luck was on my side… 1 hour later, after meeting him, the guy understood my fear and the fact that I was telling lies in regards to my willingness to ve his girlfriend. His words still have an echo in my ears: “You have one attempt to leave. If you look back, I’ll find you!”
Needless to say I ran and never looked back, not for a second, not even after I got home and closed the door behind me.
Strike of luck number 1!
The second one I will never forget is shorter, in time. 1 day, 1 attempt.
I met him, we went for a soda (I barely sip wine now, in my 30s). It lasted about an hour. Then he said: “Let’s go somewhere else”. I got in the care and he drove away. Towards the place he described as being his home. He goes: “We’re just having a stop so that I can get something, then we’re on our way to the place I want to take you.” (The reckless teenager in me was somehow shaking, yet went upstairs).
I was in the doorway, so he went on: “Go, make yourself at home, I’ll be with you in a second.”
“It’s ok”, I said. “I’ll wait here, as you said it won’t be long”
He insisted: “No, no, go have a seat.”
So I did… In that instant, I heard the key locking the door.
“Aren’t we leaving?” I asked. But he didn’t answer, but came back with a bottle of beverage and 2 glasses. “I don’t drink.” I said. “Don’t worry, I’m just trying to make you loosen up.” he replied. However, he didn’t even pour the beverage, that he made himself comfortable near me, having his hands all over.
I was scared like never before, but I gathered all my strength and said: “Hey, I’m not doing this. You take your hands off me.” (Remember, I was 17!) He didn’t care and went on with his game. So I jumped and said, with the utmost serious (and fake calm) I could: “You need to take me home. Or at least open the door, I’ll find my way!”
I guess he was in shock, as such a young female could resist and, even more, confront him in his own house. He tried again, this time threatening me. He was desperate, but I didn’t give in! I still don’t know how I managed to make him drive me home, safe and sound! All I know is that was the first and last date.
Strike of luck umber 2!
I thank God, till this day, that I’m here, writing for all of you, as I had some dangerous experiences in highschool!
Nevertheless, women still experience similar (and worse) fear as grown-ups. Even though we clearly have some safety measures in place and believe the one we met is marvelous and loving and caring… people change in time. But most of the times, we choose to keep our eyes closed. Be it because we’re madly in love or because society forces us to “behave ourselves”. But if we indulge an insult, a single word of disrespect or 1 slap, they will be continued. Forgive once, and harsher times will follow!
I guess this was the case of the woman described in the first 2 paragraphs. She closed her eyes and fear soon took her over completely. And when a man knows a woman is afraid if him, he’ll feel power playing in his hands, fists and words. He will carry on manifesting his “superiority” till there’s nothing left of a woman’s self-esteem and becomes controllable.
You see, I was lucky. L U C K Y !!!
But most women aren’t. That’s why we need to stand up against abuse. Does he insult you? Reply! Does he slap you? Pack your bags and leave! Does he threaten you? Call the police! Does he follow you? Find a way to get your track lost!
And that, my friend, from the first time! Don’t wait until he swipes the floor with you! Don’t become his doormat! You love him? That’s tough. But love yourself first!
Getting over such an episode is hard work. So don’t let things take you there. You’d better bite your tongue (if you still call his name), rip your heart off (if you still love him) and move on! Brighter days will come. And you will thank yourself for being strong for a moment.
I’m not talking from what I’ve heard. I’m sharing facts with you. Therefore, I know all the effort it takes to rebuild yourself. To have the courage to look in the mirror and like yourself again. To get up every morning and start again. And again. All over again! But you can do it! So you’d better start today!
The choice is yours! Choose strength!
Freelance writer & editor | Storyteller | Interviewer | Published author | Co-Founder of afsyn.com | Podcast host & producer