Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Domestic Violence Hits Home: I Left Twice

On January 22, I sat here at my desk, writing in fear when I remembered something: It is not okay or reasonable for me to stay in a place where I am afraid. Especially when the one who scares me once promised to love, honor and cherish me. He promised that he would almost 18 years ago. The time between then and now is full of proof that he didn’t mean it.

After I finished the blog post, I realized that the anxiety, angst, and fear were my cue to get the hell out of here. I logged off my computer and silently walked past him and down the hall to our bedroom. I put on my boots, my coat, and grabbed a small blanket.

He said, “Are you going somewhere?”

“Yes. I’ll be back when I feel safer,” I responded quickly. I grabbed my purse and left.

I drove to a safe place, previously scouted, and parked the car. I shook the tension out of my body the best I could. I allowed a tear to fall. Will called my phone repeatedly, but I let his calls go to voicemail. I did not want to hear the phone ring, so I called my sister, Erin. We talked for almost two hours.

He Stopped Calling Me and I Thought He Was Passed Out

Eventually, Will stopped calling. I waited another 45 minutes or so, and then the silence convinced me that he must have passed out from drinking all night. I decided to go home and go to bed. I thought that in the morning he would pretend to forget what happened. When I pulled up in the drive, everything looked normal. The living room light and television were on, and I did not see Will’s shadow roaming about the house snapping a belt. I thought he was
asleep. It was about 2 AM.

I unlocked the side door in the dark and pushed it, stepping inside. Suddenly, as if shot up from out of the floor, Will stood in my way.

He said, “Give me your keys and driver’s license and get out.”

I assume he meant for me to give him all except my keys and driver’s license. He was drunk and stunk of whiskey. In a perfect world, with a perfect emergency plan, I would have turned away immediately with all of my needed things and left for a hotel, but that isn’t what happened.

I did not have a bag in the car, and his sudden appearance threw me off balance mentally and physically. Funny thing about emergencies – they never happen when I’m expecting them, and even if I am expecting something it is never the worst something possible. So, out of habit, I put my purse in its spot by the door while sidestepping the man blocking my way. He later claimed to the police that I shoulder bumped him to gain entry to his home.

I walked to my room as quickly and quietly as I could. Will yelled at me that he woke the boys to tell them that I abandoned them to go “fuck a nigger” and wasn’t living here anymore. He added with greater volume, “Even a whore doesn’t abandon her children!” I heard his footsteps getting closer. I locked the bedroom door behind me. I went to the master bathroom to pee.

The Violence Begins

Will hit the bedroom door with his fist. He bellowed, “Unlock this fucking door or I’m gonna kick it in!”

I said, “If you kick in that door, I’m calling the cops.” It came out of my mouth more calmly than I thought it would.

As I listened to his threats and obscenities, I repeated what I would do if he kicked in the door. I heard him walk away, watched his shadow disappear from under the door. He yelled something, and I thought the boys must be awake by now (they were in their rooms across the hall). I exited the bathroom, entered the bedroom and pushed my dresser in front of the door to buy some time. Part of me thought he wouldn’t come back. I hoped that he would carry on his
rant in the other rooms and not try to come in the bedroom.

He yelled at me to leave his house, reminding me that it was, in fact, his house because he paid for it and everything in it. The boys were his too – they didn’t deserve a whore for a mother and he planned to take them from me.

It got quiet for a few seconds. I contemplated whether I should pack a bag or if I should crawl into bed and pretend nothing was happening (or rather, pretend that nothing could happen).

His shadow appeared in the crack under the door. I heard the tickling sound of metal on metal as he unlocked the door. He tried to throw the door open but was surprised to find the dresser blocking the door. I heard more yelling and cursing.

He pushed hard on the door and the dresser slid, pressing into the wall behind the door, puncturing a hole in the wall where the top edge of the dresser cut into it. I turned to the window and tried to raise it. The damn window was freaking stuck. It would not budge. I looked around for something to break the glass when I saw his red face pushing into the room through the small opening. He smirked at me, yelled something, then repeatedly hit the door with his shoulder to gain entry to the room.

He didn’t take his eyes off me as he squeezed into the bedroom. The door pressed against him and I remember hoping the doorknob would snap back and hit him in the balls. I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t think. He was yelling at me to leave, to get out; I was not wanted here because I was a whore and a traitor and, of course, unappreciative of all he did for me.

When he finally made it into the room, I tried to slide past him to the door. He kept telling me to get out, and I wanted to get out. But when I moved toward the door, he pushed me on my chest hard. I lost my footing and fell backward onto the bed. My fear and the bouncy mattress put me back on my feet almost immediately. I sidestepped him once, attempting to get to the door, saying, “Then let me leave!”

He grabbed my arms and shook me violently. He said, “No! It’s too late for that!” He shook me violently and my head snapped back hard again and again. He pushed me backward, but I didn’t fall this time. He turned his back to me and stood between the door and me. I called out to Marc to bring me my phone. I could not believe the boys could be sleeping still. Will glanced at me over his shoulder before throwing his arm out to hit me across my throat. I coughed, got my voice back and started yelling for Marc to bring me my phone or call the police.

Will said, “Why are you going to bother calling them? You ain’t gonna have no marks that show!” and he did a weird little spinning dance with his hands in the air singing, “You have no proof!”

“There’s a hole in the wall!” I said.

“What? That hole?” he replied, “That has been there for months!”

Then, and this is possibly the worst part of the entire night, Marc finally poked his head through the crack in the door and said, “Mom, stop!” Then Marc said, “If you respect me at all, you’ll just leave!”

I was hurt, but I remembered that Will had woke them up to tell them lies. I said, “He put his hands on me!” and Marc stared at me blankly.

I looked at Will. Will stood there with his arms crossed, smiling at his son. Will was pleased, very pleased, and he certainly was not going to touch me in front of Marc.

I said, “Fine, Marc, I’ll leave, but you have to get out of the way so I can get out of here.”

I Called the Police

Marc moved, I squeezed through the door, then went straight for my phone and called the police. I stayed on the line with the 911 operator until the policeman got there. At one point, Will flipped out his knife to open a piece of gum. He flipped the knife like a pro killer while looking at me, not at the gum.

The cops arrived and handcuffed Will for acting belligerent and because Will would not tell where he hid his knife. As the handcuffs snapped into place, I begged Marc to go to his brother’s room and he did.

I walked away from Will to talk to one of the policemen. He said that because there were no marks on me (yet), they could not remove Will from the home. I knew I couldn’t stay tonight, not after all that happened, not without protection. I packed a bag.

Remarkably, Eddie still slept. Marc sat beside his bed. I asked Marc if he wanted to go with me and Marc said there was no sense in waking up Eddie. He promised to put him on the bus in the morning. I left without my children.

Will was pleased. He thought the police forced me to go.

Andrew Neel