I’m in an amazing online support group of women who have survived domestic violence. A couple of the women are still in their abusive relationships and are trying to plan their eventual escape. Other survivors in the group have had close female friends murdered in their attempts to leave their abusive partners.
One of the women in the group reported that in her town today, a woman was killed by her husband “even though she had a court order against him,” according to the news reporter.
A piece of paper. Is that really supposed to protect us? Really?
In reading just the few sentences that this woman posted about another woman dying at the hands of her abusive husband, I was jettisoned back to the day I fled my home. I’m choking back tears as I write this, because the horror of that day will never, ever leave me.
I knew, I absolutely knew, that I might die that day. And that my daughter (then just 2 years old) might die that day.
There I was, literally throwing things into my car after he left for work, sweating and praying and sobbing, knowing that if he returned home for any reason — like he forgot a tool he needed to do his job, which happened sometimes — I would probably die.
I imagined him taking out his machete — he was a landscaper — and chopping my head off. Or taking a shovel and bashing me across the face with it. Or rushing toward me and pinning me against the car, with his hands around my throat and our toddler daughter screaming in the back seat.
All of those visions and a hundred more raced through my mind as I tore around the house, gathering the things I knew I needed, leaving most of my beloved personal effects behind. In the end, I knew the most important things to get out of that house were my daughter, and me. If we could drive away without him seeing us, we might — might — escape with our lives.
It’s been 22-1/2 years since I left. My daughter is now 24.
I’m shaking right now. The tears are streaming down my face. I feel like I’m going to be sick.
Trauma never leaves you.