I was in a department store today standing in line behind three young girls. Young is a relative term. When I was 12 I thought 25 was old. Now, to me, 20-somethings are babies. These girls appeared to be junior or seniors in high school. They were all wearing socks pulled over their Lululemon pants, crocs and their hair tied back with a clip. It reminded me of the days I would call my friends to coordinate matching outfits.
“Wear your black crop top shirt and acid wash jeans pinned on the bottom with the pink scrunchie!”
They were talking about a girl who they felt was being dramatic. “It’s not like he hit her. He just called her a bitch,” said the petite blonde standing in the middle of the trio. The other two laughed uncomfortably. It took every fiber of my being not to tap them on the shoulders and give a stern lesson. That girl was not being dramatic. She was setting boundaries. This is exactly why there needs to be more conversations about domestic abuse. You don’t have to have a black eye for someone to beat you down. That includes emotional, financial and verbal abuse. We need to teach our daughters being a victim of domestic abuse is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s not their fault.
The man who abused me was to blame. He was wrong for slowly destroying my self-esteem with every insult and threat he hurled at me. He was wrong to make me question my worth. He was wrong for telling me on many occasions, that I should kill myself.
“Do you know what you need to do today? Go to the rope store and then find yourself a rickety stool.”
I walked on eggshells, in fear of the next outburst. Some memories I have blocked out, but many I will never forget. I remember I had purchased my very first “designer” item. It was a cashmere Burberry scarf. This was a big deal for someone who grew up buying clothes at Kmart. I didn’t have the luxury of shopping at the Gap like many of my classmates. We got five outfits and you rotated those suckers each week. The soft cashmere was like a hug wrapped around my neck. I loved how I felt when I wore that scarf. One day, I made the mistake of questioning a decision my partner made. He walked over to that Burberry scarf, told me how worthless I was and tore it down the middle. Then, he stormed out. My heart sank. I picked the scarf off the ground like it was a wounded animal, but actually I was the wounded one. I gathered a needle and thread, my hands shaking, tears streaming down my face as I sewed that scarf back together. I dragged my fingers down the crooked stitches every time I put it on. I didn’t want to forget how I felt that day. I needed to remember why I needed to get out. Soon after I was free from that relationship I purchased a new Burberry scarf. I wear it with pride knowing he can never tear it or me down again.