The title of this post is stolen borrowed from the title of an episode of How I Met Your Mother (S01 E18 for anyone who is curious).
I believe it is Oprah (please correct me if I am wrong) who said that if a man hits you once he will hit you again.
The first time my ex-boyfriend hit me was after a night out with a former classmate of mine and some of his friends. I went back to my ex’s place at the end of the night to discover he was pissed that I was out that long with my classmate because he believed said classmate had a thing for me. So he lightly slapped me a few times. I know there is technically no such thing as a light slap (a man either slaps you or he does not) but that is the best way I can describe it.
The second time he hit me was after 2 a.m. on February 10, 2011 and that was much more serious.
The day before was a Wednesday and two of my friends and I decided to go clubbing, because ladies night. It was not a wild one though as I had a CAT the next day so we called it a night at around 1 a.m. I went back to my ex’s house and my friends went back to the hostel we lived in during the semester.
I am not sure, but I imagine my ex was lying in bed with me absolutely seething and eventually he could not take it anymore, because he forcibly woke me up and dragged me out of the bed. At this point I did not understand what was happening as I was still high. The only thing registering in my brain was “huh?” as he proceeded to drag me out of the house. Like literally dragging me on the floor by the hand.
We got to the main door of the house and as my brain was still struggling to catch up with what was happening, he opened the door, threw me out and flung my things at me. I had a number of things at his place and while I was out that night he must have put them together in the plastic bag he flung at me when he threw me out of the house.
The first slap took me by surprise.
Till this day I still remember the ringing in my ear that slap caused. And now that I think about it, I will probably always remember it.
He hit me again and again and again.
And again and again and again and again.
Every time I tried to stand up another blow would knock me to the ground until finally I gave up and just lay there, covering my head with my hands as he shouted at me, fearful that another blow would come at any minute.
Eventually he stopped hitting me, and I lay on the cold, concrete floor outside his apartment, a pathetic mess in my LBD as I had passed out in the outfit I wore to the club.
I do not remember how long I lay there until I called Adelle to come and get me.
I do not remember if I was alone outside when she came for me, or if I was with him. But I remember she told him the fuck off, so if I was not outside with him when she came to my rescue then she made him come out of the house.
After that she took me back to my hostel and on the way she asked for who she should call once we got there. I gave her the name and number of my closest friend in the hostel at the time, and when my friend came to meet us at the gate Adelle briefly explained what happened before telling her, “don’t let her go back to him.”
I immediately blacked out and when I woke up a few hours later I was horrified to see that my right eye was so bruised it had more or less swollen shut. Only a tiny slit remained open and through it I could see that the inside of my eye was all red. I had never had a black eye before in my life and upon seeing it I started crying all over again.
That morning was also when I realised that my ex hit me so hard that all three studs on the right side of my ear came off. I usually wear the studs used for piercing one’s ears and if you are familiar with them you are aware that the stopper is very secure and does not come off easily. But that night I was hit so hard that all three came off.
Not long into the morning another friend in the hostel came to my room and when she saw me she was immediately taken aback. She wanted to know what happened, but I found it impossible to say “my ex beat me up” so I said nothing at all. That is when she hesitantly said “please don’t tell me that he hit you …” and I confessed that he did. She immediately started crying and hugged me …
My friends and I were really worried about my eye so I went to hospital to see a GP who could verify whether or not there was any risk of permanent damage. I am dead sure that the doctor asked what happened and I am equally sure that I lied to him/her.
After that I went to the university to explain my absence from the CAT to the Dean of Students. I had obtained a doctor’s note from the hospital to further my case that I did not miss the CAT frivolously … as if my black, swollen-shut eye was not sufficient enough explanation.
I lied to the school that I had gone out the night before and was mugged in Westy. But when I saw my family at my aunt’s wedding that weekend on February 12th I lied to them that I had been stung by a wasp. Why the different lies? And poor ones at that. I do not know.
Here is the real kicker: I attended my aunt’s wedding with my ex.
I did not want anyone to know that he had beaten me up, so going with him to the wedding was my piss-poor attempt at masking the truth. Surely my fam would have to believe I had been stung by a wasp, because if he had beaten me up how could I possibly be with him at the wedding two days later?
I had resumed driving not too long ago and my mum agreed to lend me her car for the weekend if my ex was with me to help with the driving. That morning of the wedding was the first time my ex saw me since he beat me up two days prior. He felt terrible when I removed my sunglasses so he could see my eye, and I think he apologised but I am not sure.
My ex and I had been together for approximately two years four months before that fateful morning of February 10, 2011 when he beat me up after 2 a.m. and we stayed together for another two years as we broke up in January 2013.
I am now unequivocally aware that I never should have gone back to him after Adelle came to my rescue, but just because someone hurts you does not mean you can simply stop loving them. The relationship was not the same after that though, and 2012 in particular was a wasted year that added zero value to my life.
This post is unequivocally the hardest thing I have ever written since launching the blog on August 22, 2018 because being beaten up is something I have never shared in detail to anyone before. Of course I talked about it briefly to a few people when it happened, but only because I did not have the choice to say nothing at all about the situation.
I recorded a podcast with Adelle on November 22nd and it was in that podcast that I truly spoke about being beaten up for the first time in my life. Doing so was incredibly nerve-wracking, but the fact that it was with my BFF made it possible for me to power through. Which is also why I am able to share my story in today’s post. Speaking about it for the first time in such a safe environment made it possible for me to write about it as well.
If there is one word to describe how the entire incident made me feel is shame. And that is the main reason I never really talked about it until three days ago.
Shame that I was beaten up.
Shame that I lied about it.
Shame that I stayed with him for two more years after that.
Shame that a few days later I went to the salon and braided a hairstyle that would fall on the right side of my face in an attempt to camouflage my black eye. Spoiler alert: it did not work.
Shame that one year later my mum, who I told I had been stung by a wasp, found out from the school that I told them I had been mugged in Westy. And because of the two different stories she then knew it was my ex who beat me up. I do not remember if I admitted the truth then, but something tells me I did.
And lastly shame – and this is the biggest one – because for a while I felt he was justified in beating me up because I did the thing he accused me of. The thing he was beating me up for. Of course now I know that it was not my fault, but for a very long time I was too embarrassed to talk about it because there was this voice in my head that kept saying I deserved the beating.
Last year I went to watch Avengers: Infinity War with a friend of mine at the IMAX in town, but that day IMAX had issues and were unable to air the movie on time. So after 30 minutes of waiting in the cinema hall, my friend and I decided to go to K1 for reggae instead. As we were waiting for the cab outside, a street kid approached us and asked for some money to buy food. At first I replied “si leo.” Until I saw his eye. It was bruised on the outside and red on the inside, which immediately took me back to that morning of February 10th after 2 a.m. It took me a few seconds to process it, and by then he had started walking away, so I called him back and gave him some money because, as I told my friend, “I know what it feels like to have your eye look like that.”
I am aware that there are people who will read my story and empathise with me, while there are others who will read it and judge me harshly. But at the end of the day it is my story. And if I do not own my story how can I expect anyone else to do so?
I am proud to say that I am a different person now. That the girl I was during that 4 ½ year relationship no longer exists. If a man ever hits me again, for whatever reason, I will leave without looking back. I have said before that it has taken me a while but I really like who I am now, and I fall more and more in love with myself every day. I know who I am, what I am worth and I am confident that I deserve nothing but the best that life has to offer. If anything, I have damn well earned it!