I will never forget that feeling, that instant pain, the flash of heat, and the fear that took over every inch of me when his hand first made contact with my face. I can say now that I truly understand the idea of fight or flight.
Up until more recently, I had always jumped into everything two feet at a time. Never worried about the repercussions of the decisions I was making. I was fearless. While most of the people I surround myself with will probably argue that I’m still that way, I know I’ve become just a little bit more cautious with the decisions I make.
When I was 20 years old, I was living the exact life I wanted to live, a great group of friends, a fun job and not a care in the world. It was at this point in my life that I met the man that my naïve younger self thought I would spend the rest of my life with. He was exciting and spontaneous – we had the most amazing time together. I was hooked. It wasn’t long before we were living together and not long after that we were engaged. It was a decision that looking back, I can see was never truly supported by my parents. Except, I was in heaven. It was sometime during our whirlwind relationship he dropped a bombshell on me, he is bipolar.
At the time, I remember looking back to see if I could’ve seen any of the telltale signs. Yes, he was spontaneous, but I never really felt like he had the irrational mood swings that I had associated with bipolar disorder. I loved this man, so I did what I felt was best – I bought all the books and started attending the appointments with his psychologist. I still remember sitting quietly in his psychologist’s office trying to absorb as much information as I possibly could, telling myself that I could help him because I loved him. The doctor was very reassuring that he was not on the extreme end, that his form of bipolar was easily manageable and that he had been taking medication to keep his mood swings in check.
I still remember the sense of relief washing over my body as I sat in that office. Everything was okay, he was okay, we were okay.
A little while later, after a night spent at a local fair, we got into his truck to head home. As soon as he started driving I could tell that something was bothering him. That was the thing with us, I could pick up on the smallest shift in his personality that was undetectable to anyone but me. It was the way he spoke and even the words that he used. I couldn’t put my finger on what was causing it, but I knew it was coming. Until this point I had never felt like my safety was in jeopardy, except this time I could see a rage building within him.
As the speed he was driving started to increase, I realized I was about to see a side of him I had never seen before. As we approached a stop sign, I realized that to protect myself it was now or never. After a quick scan of my surrounding, my hand slowly reached for my escape – I would run. It was at that moment, with my hand gripping the door handle, that he made eye contact with me. His eyes so filled with hate and anger, he then glanced at my hand. I heard the engine quickly accelerate and knew he was going to blow through the stop sign.
By this time, the truck was barreling down the dark side road at over 120km/h and was veering dangerously from left to right. It was time for Plan B. I darted for my cellphone with the hope that if I could just call the police, I would be okay. No such luck. The moment I had my phone in my hand, he lunged at me with no concern for the fact that he was driving. He had lost all regard for my safety, as well as his.
It was at that moment I felt the impact, the jarring feeling of him strike me. I don’t know if it was the blow from his fist or the force to which my head hit the passenger side window, but in that split second of confusion he managed to steal my cellphone from me, the one thing I thought could save me.
“I can’t believe you would dare to try something like that,” he screamed as he lunged at me again. Having lost all hope that I could get out of this unscathed, I attacked back. If I was going down it would be the car going off the road, not by his hands.
As we fought back and forth, blow for blow, there was never a moment that I thought it might stop. It felt like time stood still, like minutes were replaced by hours. I couldn’t continue protecting myself so I stopped, frozen in fear. After a few more strong shots to the face from a man twice my size, from the man I loved, it stopped. The truck came to a rest in the middle of the road. He leaned towards me as I cowered in terror and reached over, opening the truck door. With one mighty kick, I was ejected onto my hands and knees on the concrete below, thrown out like a piece of garbage.
Next out was my purse, followed by my cellphone. As I laid motionless on the road, I heard the truck door slam and the truck drive off. I made it, I survived. After I crawled to my feet and collected my things, my hands reached up and felt my swollen and tear-stained face. Although, I knew I should have called the police in that moment, the best I could do was call a friend for help.
It only took 15 minutes for my friend to arrive, record time from where he was coming from. As I opened the passenger door and the cabin light in his truck turned on, the look on his face told me what I already knew. It was bad, but I was safe.
That was the last time I saw him and the end of our love story.
If you, or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence please know that there is help out there.
I encourage anyone looking for help to check out the Ending Violence Association of BC. The site contains information about domestic violence, as well as contact information for all of the programs in the province.
In 2004, approximately 653,000 women in Canada had been physically or sexually assaulted by a spouse at least once during the previous five years.
Of the nearly 28,000 incidents of relationship violence reported to police, 84 per cent involved female victims and 16 per cent involved male victims.
One in five homicides in Canada involves the killing of an intimate partner.
Women make up 98 per cent of spousal violence victims of kidnapping/hostage taking and sexual assault.
Twenty-one per cent of women abused by a marital partner were assaulted during pregnancy; 40 per cent of these women stated that the abuse began during their pregnancy.
Twelve per cent of young women, aged 18 to 24, reported at least one incident of violence by a marital partner in a one-year period – four times the national average.
– Statistics courtesy of the Ending Violence Association of BC.
Rock your soul,