Trigger warning: graphic domestic violence is described in this article.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to national statistics, on average nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United Sates. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
A lot of people assume that it can’t happen to them. That domestic violence happens in some faraway place. But many times domestic violence victims are sitting right beside you at work, at school, at church. Domestic violence whether physical, mental or emotional happens to all types of people. It happened to me, a normal college girl in a relationship with her high school sweetheart.
It Can’t Happen To Me: My Domestic Violence Story
Last fall I started my junior year of college. I went into the semester excited about my classes and clubs, I was working on getting internships—all normal thing a college student does. A few weeks after school started my boyfriend came up to visit me. Our relationship had all the usual problems, fights here and there but nothing crazy or physical—until one night. It was a Saturday and we were coming back from dinner and we got into an argument about something dumb and I said in anger, “UGH I just want to slap you sometimes!” Obviously, I didn’t raise a hand to him. We get back to my room; my roommate was hanging out watching a movie so we joined her. All of the sudden my phone buzzes. It was a Snapchat notification from a guy friend whom my boyfriend didn’t approve of. He went off. He was accusing me of cheating, saying I’m a whore and a slut and I just let anyone have my number. I was confused as to how he assumed any of that was going on.
It was like he was a different person. Like a switch went off in his brain and he wasn’t my sweet loving man anymore—he was a monster. He started punching himself in the face, saying, “Is this what you want?!” I grabbed his arm in an attempt to stop him from hurting himself and he grabbed my wrist and started trying to punch himself with my hand. I told him over and over again that he was hurting me, but he wouldn’t stop. I asked him to come with me to the bathroom so that we could talk about whatever he was angry about without making a scene in front of my roommate.
We got to the bathroom, and everything just got worse. He tried to bash his head into the brick wall. He said that I’d be better off if he were dead. I was crying and scared, and I kept trying to stop him from hurting himself. I told him that the bruise on my wrist is enough to get him arrested. He then got this crazy look in his eye—he grabbed me by the throat and pinned up against the wall. He started telling me that all I do is cheat on him and lie to him. I am absolutely broken at that point.
My sweet, caring loving boyfriend, my best friend, has turned into this crazy monster. I legitimately feared for my life but I didn’t call out for my roommate to come help and I didn’t press charges that night. I finally got him to calm down and we went to bed like normal. The next day I hid my bruise and acted like everything was okay. He seemed to be completely ok as well, as if the night before he hadn’t had his hand on my throat.
A few weeks later he came back to visit. We had seemed to resolve the issue from before but I was still very afraid of him but out of love for him I acted like I was fine. When he came back to visit we went to an event on campus and I bumped into someone I use to be involved with and that triggered my boyfriend. He started making a scene and because there were so many people around I asked him if he would hold off on the yelling until we got back to the room. We never made it back to the room.
On the way back he just started going off. He was towering over me, in my face yelling all these horrible things and I feared that he might just hit me. Luckily for me, a girl walked by while we were arguing. Though she said nothing as she walked past, she was aware of everything that was going on and she called campus police. They showed up and my boyfriend laid down in the road in hopes of getting hit by the police car because he told me he thought I would be happier if he was dead. We were taken to the station in separate vehicles. The police asked me if I had any bruises and if anything like that has happened before. I said no and they asked me to write a statement. Afterwards, I was escorted back to my room and he was escorted off campus.
A lot of people have asked, “why don’t you leave?” “why don’t you fight back?” “why didn’t you break up with him sooner?” and I really don’t have an answer that I think can satisfy everyone. I loved him so much and we had been together for so long that I didn’t want to let anything break us up. I didn’t want him to kill himself if I broke up with him, I couldn’t have lived with that on my conscience. I am so thankful to the girl who called campus police that night, she truly did save my life.
It took a lot to muster up the courage to get help for myself. I didn’t think the situation had affected me as much as it had. I couldn’t sleep, I always had backaches and headaches, I got anxious anytime I saw a white car like the one he had. He had taken away my sense of security. I was in therapy for a bit but I couldn’t continue because I just felt that it wasn’t for me. So I ended up joining a support group and there I got to see that other people were going through what I was going through. People that I had seen on campus. I know you always hear “you’re not alone” but I truly felt alone until I went to group and put faces to the “others” out there that were suffering like I was.
It has been a year since I was pinned up against the wall by my throat by a man I thought loved me. I still have days where thinking about what happened gets to me. Writing this article was a really big step. I chose to share my story because I know that a lot of people, not just women, are going through something similar. A lot of people don’t make it out like I did. My aim is to share my story and hopefully help someone feel less alone about whatever they may be going through. Remember that you are loved and you deserve a life without suffering and sadness.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and you don’t know what to do, reach out to someone who can help. Always remember to use a safe phone line or computer. Your safety is a priority. To learn more and for more resources, check out the National Network to End Domestic Violence website.
SAFETY ALERT: If you are in danger, please use a safer computer, or call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.