TW: mention of physical violence
I have spent the last five years sharing this story in drips and drabs, avoiding to share it from beginning to end. It’s been a process of avoiding, trying to forget, being triggered and repeating the process all over again. But today is different. Today I want to let go of the shame that I have been carrying, I want to remove all it’s layers and lighten the weight on my shoulders. Today I want to share this story with my chest and never go back to sharing it in whispers or muffled sounds.
With that being said, I must admit that it is a very traumatic event that nearly resulted in my death at the hands of someone who claimed to love me. So if you’ve made it this far, thank you for helping me kill the shame that I’ve been carrying.
It was the beginning of December in 2016 and I had just gotten back from varsity. I stayed with my boyfriend (now ex) each time I was back from varsity since my family dynamic wasn’t as favourable as I needed it to be. Also because we were in a long distance relationship, so spending as much time as I could with him only made sense.
My routine post arrival always meant that I would unpack my bags the very next day, but this time I didn’t. In fact I couldn’t. I had such a strong gut feeling to keeping my suitcase packed, and because I almost always listen to my intuition, I did exactly that. Of course this got on my ex’s nerves and he would bring it up each and every time he got the chance to.
Fast forward to the end of that week, Friday afternoon. By this stage I unpacked my suitcase in order to keep the peace and because I was annoyed by his nagging. The weird feeling I had been feeling had also disappeared, so it only made sense. My ex got a call from one of his close friend’s and colleague, from his responses I could tell that the friend wanted them to go and have some drinks at a pub nearby. The call ended and he got up to get dressed, while confirming what I had already overheard. He asked me to join them but I declined and said that I’d join them later.
Later comes and my phone rings, its him asking me where I am. I was already on my way there so I answered him and ended the call. As soon as I arrived his friend bought a round of shots and ordered me a drink. I was feeling uncomfortable and out of place because they were already well on their way to being drunk. They wanted me to play catch up, but I wasn’t interested. In fact I didn’t even want to be there.
They refused to take no for an answer and ordered another round of shots that somehow ended up staining the t-shirt I was wearing. I ran to the bathroom to go and sort it out and when I got back my ex’s friend had left, coincidently with my cell phone in his backpack. I asked my ex if I could use his phone to call his friend to come back but his battery had died, so I went back to his place to charge it. As soon as it switched on I texted on of my close friends and explained everything to her, alerting her that I’d be going to fetch my phone soon and that she shouldn’t panic if she can’t reach me. As I was about to send her one final text my ex randomly walked in.
He was upset and seemed to be really drunk at this point. He didn’t seem to understand why I was so adamant to go and fetch my phone when he could simply get it from his friend at work that evening. I explained to him that I had plans with friends and that I needed to have my phone with me in order to communicate with them and with him while he was at work. But the more I explained, the more upset he got. He started accusing me of cheating on him and a whole other bunch of things. This man was angry because I wanted to go and fetch my phone and I couldn’t understand why.
He said that if I had nothing to hide on my phone, I should be fine with him bringing it back in the morning. I reiterated my plans for that evening, but he still wasn’t having it. He put on some music and locked the door, and told me that I wasn’t going anywhere. He threw the keys behind the fridge and told me that he would bring my phone back in the morning. This upset me, more so confused me because he was not interested in hearing me, let alone understanding me.
I started to look for my keys, but I couldn’t seem to find them. He kept on repeating that I wasn’t going anywhere and that he won’t allow me to cheat on him or leave him for someone else. At this point he was shouting at me and was clearly angry. I was scared and angry, but didn’t know what to do. I decided to reach for his phone to call my friend, but he snatched the phone out of my hand and slapped me. I fell to the ground, but got up again and he slapped me again. At this point it had clicked that this person had just hit me for the first time in the seven years of us being together.
I was in fight more, so I hit him back but he overpowered me and punched me this time. I screamed for help over and over again, but no one in the commune came to the door. I kept on screaming because I could hear people in the passage, but my screams were blatantly ignored. He then pushed me onto the bed, got on top of me and strangled me. He told me that none of us are making it out of that room alive and that I should save my breath. The longer he strangled me, the harder it became for me to breathe and I could feel my body getting weaker and weaker. I closed my eyes, prayed and saw my nephews face and somehow regained my power and pushed him off me. I remembered where my keys were and threw them outside the window for one of the housemates to open the door. She stayed in the outside rooms and came running when she realised someone was screaming.
As soon as she opened the door I grabbed the keys from her, opened the front gate and ran for my life. I was crying and shaking but I just kept on running. I managed to get two blocks away from the house and I stopped a taxi and got inside. I told the driver I was going to town and when he noticed that I was crying he offered me tissue. I cried all the way to town and only stopped when I was about to get off at my stop. I clutched the bag I was carrying as I walked through the taxi rank looking for a taxi that would take me to the friend’s house so I could fetch my phone, all while choking on the lump that I had in my throat.
I managed to retrieve my phone and immediately called my aunt, but she didn’t answer. I made my way to her house and found my cousins home watching tv. I was shaken but didn’t want to scare them so I went and sat in the room. My phone kept on ringing because my ex was calling me. I just watched it ring and ring until I heard his voice coming from outside. This man decided to come and cause a scene at my aunts house and maybe even to finish me off. I stood in the kitchen and listened to him shout at me, while I made calls to his mom and sister. The sister finally picked up and I told her to call her brother and tell him to leave, or to come and arrest him herself because she was a police woman. And only then did he leave.
That was the day I nearly died at the hands of someone I had known for a 1/3 of my life, someone who had emotionally abused me for years until the day that he laid his hands on me.