When we hear about gender based violence, we are quick to assume the man is the perpetrator and the woman the victim. But what about “the other side of this story”. The one that doesn’t get spoken about often. For reasons that are too many to list here. Well here’s a story written by a man who has no name… for now.
“Dude, what was it this time?”, my friend asks me.
“I fell down the stairs.”
“Yeah, and last time you fell off a ladder,” he says. “Look man, we’ve known each other for a long time and I know you love her but she’s going to kill you one of these days. Me and Sally have the spare room ready for you for when you grow some balls, he he”. He leaves smiling…
Grow some balls he says… His way of trying to lighten the mood. Men don’t know how to be serious when talking emotion with each other… At least not us anyway. I’ve known him since high school, he’s my best friend, he was my best man… I was his best man when he wed Sally… And when the clumsy accidents started, he became my private doctor… Treating the bruises, the cuts without making it any more awkward than it already was. I’m actually surprised that he acknowledged my wife, Cindy was responsible. Don’t get me wrong, He obviously knew. He knows me too well. But again, we’re men; this is not something we mention. This is the thing we brush off and speak about the game last night, politics, the holocaust, The Last Air Bender and if all else fails, the goddamn weather. Getting your ass kicked by your woman, that you shut up about; and you and whoever else knows about it goes to the grave with it.
So here I am, having to call in sick because there’s a huge ass swell on my forehead… My boss doesn’t sound too pleased but we were friends once, before the promotion came along so she lets it slide. “You’d better be here tomorrow,” she says. My wife is downstairs in the kitchen making breakfast. I make my way down and we sit at the countertop eating silently; she heard Alex leave, I don’t think they spoke though. I look into her eyes but I don’t see it… That remorse and regret that apparently, everyone in an abusive relationship sees in the abusive partner that makes them stay. I’ve never seen it. Never in her eyes but that never stops me from looking.
“Are you okay?” she asks. I almost want to laugh at the question… You hit me in the head with a wine bottle woman!! Of course I’m not okay. And besides, you hit me with a bottle, that’s the most clichéd out instrument of battery; I’m embarrassed for the both of us… “I’ll be okay”. She scowls and walks away. I know she loves me. She wouldn’t still be here if she didn’t, but I think she loathes me at the same time.
I remember how it started… The playful kicks and punches, harmless any way you looked at it. But they got stronger and had more force behind them. More rage. One day she figured out that they didn’t really have any effect on me. Mostly because I was still laughing as she hit me (I’m the kind of guy who laughs at anything and everything; Finding Joy so that you don’t jump off a balcony and all)… To her left was this video game controller pad… I think the fact that the pad was only meant to be held made the pain worse, the wounds deeper from the edges. Edges that were only meant for grip. I didn’t laugh that time. That marked the change in our relationship, or at least that’s when I thought it did.
Alex came to our house for my private checkups almost every other month after that. He once asked me why I didn’t fight back, after all, Cindy was much smaller and I could take her. I couldn’t answer him…. I couldn’t answer myself either. I ended up just telling him that in Cindy was a woman, a woman that I loved and any man who laid a hand on any lady was scum, something I’d picked up from somewhere. It wasn’t much of an answer but he let it go… Mostly for my sake I think and he went back to asking me about the weather despite the fact that he’d just come from outside and I’d been locked indoors all morning. He understood that I loved this woman to death I guess. He knew I’d never leave her. And he respected that. Respected my commitment to her. He wasn’t happy about it but he respected it.
“Why haven’t you divorced me yet?” Cindy asks all of a sudden pulling me from my thoughts. “Because funny enough I don’t see any reason why to…” I say. “But can you find any reason to stay?” “Yeah, I love you. You’re my reason to stay”, I tell her. “That’s the corniest Bullshit I’ve heard in a while.” Cindy retorts. “Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less true”, I tell her and I truly mean it. There’s never going to be anyone else for me.
“I promise I’ll never hurt you again.”
“You said that last time.”
“I mean it this time.”
“You said that last time too.”
“Don’t test me.”
“This is such a wonderful apology”.
A couple of weeks later, Alex is tying a bandage across my ribs. “So dude,” he asks, “How’s the weather looking today?”
Edit: It has been brought to my attention that it is not clear this is a guest post. It is. The guest blogger just preferred that I do not mention his name. He is probably afraid the Internet will swallow him whole.