Monday, 4 February 2013

His head in his hands...

I grew up in a very non violent home. I have wracked my brains, time and time again, to try and recall if my Dad ever raised his voice even, let alone his fist. He was a peaceful man who loved his family to the exclusion of most other things. I only saw him angry a couple of times. At circumstance and other people's persistent incompetence. But it was a rare rare thing and he fumed inwardly, and was never violent, nor did he ever show a temper.

I am one of five children. It must have been chaos in our home at times. But as far as I can remember, we were never smacked. Cuddles were more the currency. We all hated any form of confrontation. Violence was, quite simply, never a tactic.

My Mum had a slight temper. She would throw things in frustration. And we were idly threatened with the wooden spoon at various times. But I never ever lived in fear of a violent response from her.

My brothers were protectors and the greatest threat they posed to me were tickles. My middle brother could reduce me to an utter puddle with his tickles. But never, ever violent.

I left home at eighteen, to go to uni. A few semesters were subsequently spent on an industry placement. In a hotel in a beautiful part of England.

I met, and fell in love with, a guy.We moved in with one with unseemly haste. He was kind, he was gentle. He was charismatic.We laughed and played and worked hard together.

He was a large man. Broad and dark. He had an aura of magnetism that evidently attracted me. He was funny and appeared to be so very confident. Capable. Savvy and tenacious.

We spent a long and hedonistic summer together. We worked and partied and loved and laughed with the abandon of youth. I was his girl.

One night, somnolent on dope, we curled up together. He started talking about the plans he had for us, for the  following year. Sleepily, I listened, lulled by his love and by his voice. He was painting a picture. A picture of a life beyond the summer, beyond the season, beyond Christmas. Beyond the next semester and the rest.

I raised myself onto my elbow and queried -  where we would be, I wondered?

"Here, of course". He looked at me, amazed that the question of location would even enter my head.

"But what about uni? What about my degree?"

And then, it was as if a different person emerged into the room.

His eyes flashed with something I have never seen before. An anger, a confusion, a resentment, an inexplicable frustration.

He sat up. "Forget it. You'll be here. With me."

I met his eye, and, with the arrogance and certainty of youth, I replied "Forget what? Uni? No. I'll be going to back to uni. I've got to."

And out of nowhere, he hit me. In the face. He took a blow to the right side of my face with his left hand, and punched me.

He hit me so hard, that my jaw rattled in my head. I felt as if my eyeballs had jolted out of my face. The pain and shock were utterly indescribable. I could feel an uprising of liquid to my throat as I fell, sliding, out of the bed, to the floor. To this day I do not know if that liquid was vomit or blood or bile or just the sensation of terror.

I can't really remember anything else. I can recall the sound of my heart pumping. It felt so loud. I have an image of him sitting on the side of the bed, his back to me, his head in his hands. His broad back, hunched.

I dressed and grabbed cigarettes and my bag like a woman posessed. (In hindsight, I was posessed, fuelled by adrenalin.) It was the middle of the night and I walked to work, despite my legs having a liquid feeling like I could faint at any second, to the hotel where we both worked. I fell, literally, into the arms of the night porter, who immediately opened a room up and made me hot tea. (I knew him. John, his name was. He was tall. Like Lurch from the Munsters. He was so kind. I don't think I ever thanked him.)

I was drinking the tea, when there was a gentle knock. In came the wife of my boss. She cleaned me up. I can still see all those lovely white hotel towels, stained with blood. She cried with me as I told her what had happened, as I replayed the scene in words, to her, and to myself. I was so utterly shocked. And stunned with disbelief. I admitted to her that if it were not for the blood, I would have truly thought it was a terrible dream.

She put me in the shower and made more tea. And then stroked my hair as I slept. I will never, as long as I live, forget her kindness to me. Her lack of judgment and the absence of anger were exactly what I needed.

Early morning came and she told me to stay exactly where I was. I saw my own face in the mirror and realised that my heart as well as my face were utterly broken. The shame. She appeared back, with a pile of her clothes for me, and gave me a white envelope. Inside was £130. She waited for me to get dressed and then put me in her car and drove me to the railway station.

Eventually, from a friends house, hundreds and hundreds of miles away, I phoned her. To thank her. We talked. Distance actually made the conversation easier.

"I didn't want you to stay. We could have nursed your face back to good. I didn't want to watch you go back to that. Back to waiting for another beating. Back to what you though was love. I didn't want you to waste these years on trying to change someone." (That there was an echo of absolute empathy and understanding via experience in her words was something I only appreciated a lot later.)

I still recall that conversation. I will never know, thankfully, whether I would have gone back to him or not. The distance she put between us was exactly what I needed to be safe and to heal. To make clear decisions and choices. To hurt. To tend my broken face and my pride. Without the fear of him nearby.
I sense that I would not have gone back. As I indicated at the start of this post, my "normal" was totally non violent. My presumption, as a child and as a teen, was that all men are kind and gentle to the core. (I thank my parents for that.) Sadly this is not the case. My gut reaction on that night was to flee. I am so relieved that I did. I fled, and the wife of my boss helped me get away totally, through cash and phone calls and kindness and belief.

My resounding message behind this sad tale? My children will never see violence in this house. They grow up knowing that violence is unacceptable behaviour in any form. Daddy will never ever hit Mummy, ever. Violence will be foreign to my children. So that, heaven forbid, they too may flee at the first sign of any violence in their future relationships. I cannot control who they fall in love with. But I hope and pray I can influence how they react to violence.

I have posted this as a part of the Speak Out Campaign, passionately coordinated by the lovely Kristin over at Wanderlust. Go have a read - she has all the details.

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  1. What a beautifully written piece. I felt like I was watching you in that room. Watching as you were hit.

    Thank God you were so strong Luce, you deserve so much better than that. xx

  2. What a moving post. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Oh Lucy, what a powerful story. You know, my own parents were not violent or argumentative either. That's not always an indicator for getting into a bad situation. It can happen to all of us who extend trust readily.

    Thank god you left and went on to create a beautiful, gentle, loving family. Thanks so much for your support. xx

  4. Thank you for this post Lucy - sometimes we need to see that the people who currently have it all together and have beautiful lives have experienced the worst in humanity to, and have been brave enough to walk away...

  5. Wow! Your family sounds wonderful. And how lucky you are that a) you felt you could speak up and b) they were the "right" people who helped you, not judged you.

    It is certainly shocking when someone, out of nowhere really, does this. Verbally/emotionally/physically. It's just so confronting and scary.

  6. This was written beautifully. I felt my heart quicken as your story progressed. I have experienced violence in my life and I know it can be a hard thing to talk about. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. I had a lump in my throat for your entire story.
    Oh how I envy your childhood and how you were able to make it your home life for yourself and your children now.
    That woman sounded like she was your angel. I am glad that she got you away, before he came with the apologies and the promises of change that never eventuates.

  8. Oh Luce, you took my breath away... I am so sorry you endured this but so happy you share the tale and give hope to all others that you can walk away, find help, break the habit before it threatens to become one.

    And your writing, as always, so damn powerful xx

  9. I have very bad things I want to say about that man, but will bite my tongue so I can say this ... what beautiful writing, what an amazing story. How dare he lay his hands on you. No one deserves that kind of treatment. x

  10. I was gripped by every word. What a powerful and moving story.

    So glad that you had an angel of a woman to protect you.

  11. Sad and beautifully written, but with a happy ending, in that you got away and raised your lovely family in the nonviolent way in which you were raised. We need more mums/ wives like you! Thanks for posting.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing.

    My father is a very gentle man, so I have been sheltered from the violence which comes so easily from some men.

    I hope that if I ever encounter a woman who has been abused that I can be the agent for change like the wife of your boss. She showed true wisdom.

    I am going to recommend your blog in my Follow Friday post tomorrow. : )

  13. That was a very touching account of your brush with violence Lucy. My family has not been brought up with violence - my two boys were brought up with the rule of no physical violence between the two of them - now in their teens they still adhere to this rule. When I hear of women being physically abused and staying within that relationship and allowing their kids to witness the abuse it makes my heart ache. Thanks for your account - a good reminder that violence is out there even if it is not in our own home!

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. Like you I grew up in a completely non-violent home although we did get the wooden spoon but back then all the kids got the wooden spoon and it certainly kept us in line. But that was a far as it went - it was used once for discipline and after a cry we were back doing what we needed to.

    I did not realise just how prevalent domestic violence was until today and truly hope that if I ever come across someone in this situation I can be like your boss' wife.

    Love, hugs and positive energy !

  15. What a powerful moving story, so well written...thank you for speaking out. I do hope I would be pro active if ever I was in that situation. Cheers SpecialK XoXo

  16. Oh Lucy. Goosebumps in Hobart. Thankyou for this extraordinary and most affecting post. What an angel that woman was to help you like that. My goodness. I'm so relieved you managed to get on with your life so well after that terrible incident. All power to you, my friend. J x

  17. Thankyou Lucy,
    What you have for your family is what i want for mine. Violence is not the norm and it never should be.
    You are a very brave woman xx

  18. Wow. Good on you for walking away. Sign of the woman you were meant to become.

  19. What a story. Must have been hard to write, and remember again. Good on you for leaving and for not falling for the trap of 'it must have been a one off' or 'I must have done something to provoke him.'


  20. Thank you for sharing your story and speaking out. Love and hugs. Here from the Speak Out link.

  21. I couldn't stop reading Lucy. One of the things that touched me most was the beautiful insight into what we can do for our own kids: provide them with a safe place to be, so they will know to RUN at the first sight of it (I hope it will never come across my children's path.)

  22. Thank you for sharing your story . I know of so many women who stayed regrettably for reasons I will never judge.
    My father was a gentle man too and so is my husband. I pray too my children will see their father as a role model.

  23. Oh God Lucy. I hope your story and the stories of others helps someone get out and break free.
    Thank you for being brave and sharing. x

  24. Such a strong post. Thank goodness for the good people you had around you that helped you so much. xx

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  26. Oh Lucy. Beautiful, strong Lucy. Much love Nd kudos to you for sharing this.

  27. Your writing is so powerful, Lucy. It matches your character. x

  28. For all the bad people in the world, there are just as many good.

  29. Hello Everyone here i am Lucy by name and i just want to share with you on how i was help by Dr Gboco Email: after all i have been through trying to get back my relationship with my husband i lost so much money and i did not get the result that i was looking for i cry all day and night because my husband ask me out of his life after our 3years marriage so a friend of mine in my office told me about much about Dr Gboco on how he help her with the job that she is now and how powerful the Dr Gboco is so i contacted him for help and ask me what need his gods to help me with i told him and he also told me to do some prayers which i did and after 1day i received a call from my husband asking me forgiveness i was so so surprise it was all like a dream as everything happen just the way Dr Gboco told me it was going to happen and now we are both together again and he even show me more love than even before.....thanks to you Dr Gboco.


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