Object lesson: A clenched fist

Object lesson: A clenched fist.


“Want to try that again?” I said to my ex-husband, my rubber softball cleats squeaking on the kitchen floor as I walked.

“I was at my brother’s,” he said.

It was the same line I’d heard moments before. His car engine cut off in the driveway and I rushed out to see if he was OK, since he’d missed our standing softball game, post-game gathering and a telephone call to his brother’s yielded no signs of him.

I’d taken stock of the situation, still dressed in my dusty softball garb, from the front porch. So he missed the game. Sorta inconsiderate to leave us all hanging, but not the end of the world. Any number of things could have kept him – work, SoCal traffic, a stop to visit with his brother – anything. But a call would have kept the mind from wandering to grizzly wreckage scenes, morgue identification visits and such. And his brother, moments before, said that he hadn’t seen him. A lie. Caught.

“I called your brother. He said he hadn’t seen you,” I said.

His dark eyes flashed with fiery rage. A fist crunched against my jaw. He moved closer still, wedging me against the kitchen counter while the grip of two burly hands tightened and shook around my neck. His spittle sopped my face as he yelled, hurling every derogatory female word he could lance.

“Get away from me,” I screamed, trying to break free from him and his rage.

He was barefooted, already changed from his suit and tie, and tried to block me as I hunted for purse and keys. His pursuit and poundings wouldn’t stop. On my way through the living room, I grabbed a candle jar, one that had burned with sweet scents to make a house a home only moments before.

He continued toward me.

I threw the jar at his feet, creating a glass barrier, which gave me enough time to get away. My little pug/chi mix dog, Pogo, darted through the glass after me and I let him into the car.

Then I drove to the hospital. Needed to get my jaw, which I could barely move, looked at. I walked through the sliding glass doors and looked around the waiting room for a nurse. Then it dawned on me: If I see anyone about my injuries, he’ll go to jail.

I walked out, before I had a chance to talk to anyone, and drove to my Dad’s home.

The marriage didn’t last much longer after that. I’ll save you the intimate details. But later, in one of our mini makeups, he told me that had I pressed charges that he never would have forgiven me. I knew it. Knew it instinctively. And I let it happen that way.

I allowed my victimization to become his. That’s to say, if I told anyone that he had victimized me with domestic violence, I would, in essence, be victimizing him by bringing him shame. And that’s not a very nice thing for a nice little lady to do now, is it?

I supposed not.

If I have one regret – and I’ve more than one – it’s that I didn’t see a doctor that evening. It’s that I didn’t call a police officer (he told me that he was hiding in the shadows, expecting them to come). Because if I had, perhaps he would have gotten the help that he needed. And even if he didn’t, perhaps I could have more quickly understood the dynamics at work and rooted myself from that victimization mindset more quickly.

I’ve seen white rage like I saw that evening another time in my life. In the newsroom at the Record Searchlight – from a couple of colleagues who were damned pissed that I’d had the audacity to speak up about some under-handed shenanigans and harassment.

I didn’t stick around to see if violence would spark from it. I’d read – and seen – enough from one to figure that it was a good possibility.

But unlike the last time that I dealt with fear and intimidation, this time I refuse to back down and stay silent. This time, I’m standing up. This time, I’m speaking. This time, no one will shame me into silence out of his or her own shame.



One Response

  1. SERIOUSLY?!? Your friggin crazy!!! Good thing my dad left you. Stop telling lies. Move on with your life.

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