When you need help, please find it
As I was walking in the neighborhood the other day, I passed a car, with windows open. A man and woman sat inside, stopped at the light. I walked in front of their car as I crossed the street, and I could hear the rage coming from within. I don't know the nature of the fight, but it was a fight. The man, in the drivers seat, was yelling at the woman, he pounded on the steering wheel and yelled at her "I'm gonna let you have it when we get home!"
My heart skipped beats. I felt scared. I felt scared for the woman. I knew nothing of their situation, of their relationship, and I hate to draw conclusions, but it didn't sound good.
I was in a scary relationship before. I have been fearful of my own health and wellness, feeling that my fate was in the hands, literally, of another. I have feared my own partner. We did not live together, but somehow I felt that he was always there, watching and keeping an eye on me. Once, he was. I woke up and saw his face peering at me through my bedroom window, my bed right next to that thin glass. Another time, he used that same window to come into my space, to come into my place. To violate my space, to violate my place. I have furniture thrown at me, chairs striking me, tables flipped over onto me feet. I have been pushed, shoved the ground. I have been cornered. I have been hit, in public and in private.
This was a long time ago now, but when I heard that man yelling at that woman, my heart sunk for her. I might be assuming too much, but the scenario did not look pretty.
When I was in the throes of this relationship, I constantly questioned what to do. Mostly, I figured I would just hide, stay in my apartment when it turned dark, with doors locked. I did not want to sleep in my bedroom. I would find reasons to spend the night elsewhere, with friends. I changed my daily schedule. I changed my routes to and fro. I wanted to escape. And, of course, I didn't want to tell anyone, for fear that it would only be worse.
Eventually, my fear for my wellness overcame my fear that it would become worse. I called a crisis line and they helped me sort out things like restraining orders, safe places, and even a mediator. I felt lucky because I think this person, the one who did me harm, was eventually able to reform. I know he began to see a therapist, and - I do believe - he has changed for the better.
When all of these memories flooded back the other day, I remembered that we do not all live in safe, happy, blissful partnerships. We talked the other day about we, ourselves, as mamas & papas, lose our tempers with our children. I know that we, as adults, lose our tempers with our partners, too. At church, at my midwife's office, and on community bulletin boards, I see a lot of material about the Portland Women's Crisis Line (888-235-5333). If you feel that you need to reach out, I beg you to try to find a safe spot (perhaps using the computer/phone at a library), if at all possible, to find help. I know it is not easy. If you have other resources for women who face domestic violence, please feel free to share here.