>>>CONTENT FLAG : TRIGGER ALERT<<< Contains verbal depictions of violence.
I consider myself to be a reasonable girl, except… well, when I’m not. There are many utilitarian things that Kevin adapted for additional purposes, usually in the form of projectiles he could throw at my head. So many things fit under this category: vases, cans, silverware, coffee mugs, books, stereos, lamps, shoes… all these things and so many more were hurled at me any number of times when Kevin was unable to immediately reach out and grab me with his abnormally large hands. I always feared his hands. He had a knack of being able to focus every last ounce of his physical strength into them, which he claimed he never used to the full on me. The threat was always there.
“If I really wanted to hurt you…”
“I didn’t hit you that hard, so if you don’t stop crying, I’ll show you something. You stupid, fat b****!”
“All I have to do is hit you right here hard enough, just once, and I can kill you.”
“You think I need to use my fist to get through to you? All I have to do is use these two fingers like this and jab you right here.”
As much as I dreaded being pummeled with those hands (that felt more like sledgehammers), there is one thing I feared more: Kevin and knives. As with everything else he did, knives didn’t matter much… not until he started threatening to use them on me as objects of punishment. He had been out of the house running the streets and chasing rock before he busted in the front door, slammed it shut, and walked up behind me while I was at the sink doing dishes. Before I could turn around, he grabbed me by my hair, grabbed the back of my neck and threw me into the refrigerator, demanding to know who I let into the apartment while he was gone. I had been inside for two days, never once opening the door. I knew better. There were always people watching the house, and I still believe it was no coincidence that this time while he was gone, several people came by knocking. A few of them stuck around long enough to ask for Kevin, but they all disappeared fast once they were threatened to be met with the police. They must have been holding.
When I told him there wasn’t anyone there, he grabbed my arm and spun me around against the counter and punched me in the stomach. I fell down on the floor and leaned my back against the cupboard door, trying my hardest not to cry. Trying not to make him any angrier. Desperately wanting not to appear weak. He told me to get up, and I since I could not after a few attempts, he pulled me up by my hair. For my non-compliance, I was slapped across the face and had the back of my head smashed into the cabinet door.
Apparently, since I was doing dishes, this meant that I was cleaning up after company. He continued interrogating me, trying to use his threats to scare me into telling him what he wanted to hear. He was waiting for me to give him justification for what he had already done. I told him if he was waiting for me to lie, it was going to be a long wait, but he persisted. Then he started throwing that word around, calling me a whore, somehow ending up on a rant about how I treated the others before him better.
I have done many things without thinking in my life, but I can tell you that none of them matched the comment that came out of my mouth. He had said the one thing that would make me speak without thinking about the very real consequences of my disobedience and lack of respect. He could never remember Kerwyn’s name. Ever. It isn’t like their names are really all that far apart. Or maybe he did it on purpose trying to get me to open my mouth. Until this day, he was unsuccessful. But the second he called him a stupid n*****, the switch in my brain, the one that kept me silent and provided some (minimal) protection from his animalistic anger, flipped for the briefest moment. I became enraged inside, I felt my face become hot, my nostrils flared, and I felt myself giving him a nasty look. This was bold… to the point of bearing risk… to blatantly do in his face, wanting him to see me respond. He raised he eyebrow, intently watching my reaction to what he had just said. I saw acknowledgment in his eyes that he was now aware there was something good inside my heart that he hadn’t managed to strip away from me.
He let me turn my back to him after my two sentence response, and he let me start to walk away before he came after me. I am not sure if this was because he was momentarily shocked by what I had dared say to him, or if he just wanted to grab something on his way over to me without me seeing. It was probably a mixture of both. But for future reference, if you are in the middle of being pummeled on, and you know there is jealousy over a person so intense that speaking in his defense could cost you your life if you catch the abuser in the wrong mood, it probably is not a good idea to walk up to them, get three inches away from his face, and, while snaking your neck, say:
“Don’t ever call him that again! Like you matter anyway, you worthless junkie!”
After about 21 months of being beat on like a man, I cut him the only way I could that he would actually feel it. I am not saying this feeling full of pride even now. The second it flew out of my mouth, I felt immediate regret. Somewhere on some level, even this monster before me had to bear some resemblance to a human being.. somehow, somewhere, and no matter how vicious and cruel and nasty and deliberately mean he had become, no matter how horrifically he treated me, responding in kind with an equally sharp emotional blade was not appropriate. There are some things you just do not need to say to a person, not even if others would say he had it coming, and this was one of those things. I felt and still feel remorse, because I know better. Because under normal circumstances, I would never think to say something like that to anyone, regardless of how abusive they were. Because when I am under duress, I do and say stupid things.
It was unfortunate for him that he chose this one thing to say. Even more unfortunate for me, because this one comment had very real consequences for me in relation to my safety. And despite what was about to happen to me because of the choice I made to not guard my tongue, from this point on, there were times I would say things to him that I knew would anger him, because I had had enough of being treated the way I was when I was doing everything I could, desperately even, to try to alleviate and minimize the anger. Because I had grown tired of being beaten on and accused of things I did not do, and a part of me just wanted to get in some licks. Childish, I know. It was also juvenile and foolish, because it could have cost me my life several times over.
Once I said this thing to him, he let me get into the living room before I heard the abrupt scraping of metal as he ripped the butcher knife out of the block. He did everything so fast that I felt like he somehow managed to stop time. I don’t remember feeling his hand reach out and rip me back into the kitchen. I don’t remember feeling the sensation of being thrown to the floor in the kitchen or the impact that must have resulted from hitting a cement pad covered only with linoleum. What I do remember is this shadowy monster hovering over me, standing straddled over my legs, leaning over my chest with his right arm raised far back behind his head. When I realized that he had the butcher knife in his hand, his arm had already descended to the point where the tip of the blade was just 24 inches away from my chest.
I must have been brought out of the daze by the neighbors slamming their front door closed, and as soon as I saw the knife coming down toward me, I felt the kitchen table just within reach of my right foot. I kicked it so hard that everything on the table flew off and shattered all over the floor, sending shards of ceramic and glass everywhere. It startled him and the end of the knife hit the stand upon which the block was perched. The leaves bounced furiously to and fro in response to the impact.
Kevin cocked his head angrily to the side. He leaned over me, grabbed my shirt into his fist and lifted the top half of my body off the floor.
“You just did that s*** on purpose, didn’t you?”
I am forever astounded and amazed at his uncanny ability to see through me. I responded, out of breath from fear:
“Of course I did. I heard them come home. I want people to hear what you do to me. I want everyone to know so much you will never know. If I ever leave, I will tell everyone. Everyone!”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
He let go of my shirt, and I fell back to the floor. I readied myself for another fist to the head. Maybe this time a foot. I had angered him pretty bad.
“One day. One day I will.”
He snorted and rolled his eyes, moving closer to my face. His breath smelled.
“Your dad goes to work awfully early. Alone. Isn’t there a canal behind the building? No one would know.”
I stared him the eye, thinking of all the things I so wanted to say to him at that moment. But I bridled my tongue. I had already caused myself enough trouble for the day. After he walked away, I slowly picked myself up off the floor and surveyed the damage. There was a sauce pan on the floor, some cups and silverware in addition to all the broken glass I now had to clean up. I never heard that fall.
“How did that get there?” I wondered to myself as I moved everything I could out of the kitchen. I stopped him this time. I shouldn’t test him again.
From that point on, the knives began disappearing from the kitchen. I began finding them in deliberately odd places as I cleaned each time. The apartment had become a trap set for me. Until that point, I was aways so careful to avoid the kitchen and the bathroom, because those are the two most dangerous rooms in which to get cornered. However, now that he had taken to this new hobby — hiding knives in every room — there was no point. There was no longer a safe room. They were stashed on the book case and in the couch in the living room, one in the pen tray on his computer desk, one in the top drawer of his dresser, one under the mattress on his side, one on the floor under his side of the bed… and he would walk around the apartment with knives in his hand, for no reason. Sometimes, he would come up next to me and slam them down on the counter and he would just stare at me for a moment or two before grabbing the knife and walking away. Sometimes he would walk around with the blade swinging around, and sometimes, they were pointed at me.
I would wake up in the middle of the night to him standing in the doorway to the bedroom watching me, and I would look down and see a steak knife clenched in his fist. He wouldn’t talk, he wouldn’t move, not even so much as blink. He would just stand there and stare, sometimes for up to a half hour at a time. Just as I started falling back asleep, he would move toward me, and the movement of floorboards creaking under his weight would wake me. And he would stand there and just stare before finally turning away.
After we were evicted from the apartment in which he performed his own role as Norman Bates… only bigger, nastier, and much scarier.. we stayed with someone he knew. He had been out smoking, and I woke up to him slamming the door and coming at me with a knife in his hand. I panicked. I tripped into the bathroom and fumbled around in the cabinet, grabbing the first thing I felt: it was a straight blade. I opened it and held it out in front of me, telling him to get away, that I would use it if I had to. For almost twenty minutes while he made his way back from outerspace, we stood at a deadlock. Him shifting his weight back and forth and me holding out the blade in front of me just praying for him to go away. When he came to and regained his senses, he started yelling at me and forced me to hand over the blade. He angrily swung it around in front of my face.
“Listen, b****, if you ever, and I mean ever, pull a knife on me again, I will use it on you. I will slit your throat. You hear me? This is your only warning.”
I stood there in disbelief. He had, after all, just tore through the upstairs with a knife out, that now all too familiar look on his face. The one I put on his face that day I said that thing to him. It scared me. It could make my blood run cold. Just a look from him was enough to make me wish I was dead, because if he killed me, it was going to slow and painful. He knew I hated pain, and he liked to dish it out.
I am neurotic about being around people with knives. I watch them, I watch where they put them, and I keep track of the knives to make sure they are all where they belong. This is ridiculous. No one in this house is going to come busting through the bedroom door with a filet knife ready to cut my throat open. I am fighting the urge now to go put dishes in the dishwasher, just for the sake of making sure. Because I saw photos done by a photographer last night to document an event of abuse. Because the photos I saw were taken in the kitchen, the young woman cornered by the counter, her boyfriend forever caught in time with his hand viciously squeezing her face, leaning in close to her and yelling, just like Kevin used to do. It was the last thing I saw before I went to sleep, and I dreamed about the butcher knife incident in the early morning hours.
Because somehow, on the way home from the grocery store after work, my stepmother and I ended up in conversation about Kevin and money, and I can’t remember how. But I remember her telling me that he would kept taking money until I left, assuming I didn’t lose my life first. And because I did something that I had not done up to this point. When she said that he would have kept me trapped until he killed me, I shook my head at her and smiled in disbelief. She looked at me, confused. And I told her that had I went back home that weekend, he would have killed me then. It isn’t often that I see the look of shock on her face. It was there, because up to this point, I had not spoken of anything he did to me. She only saw bruises he put there. On my arms, my sides, my backside, my legs, my wrists, my back… I alluded to how violent he had become and all I could do was smile and shake my head at the thought of how ridiculous it was that no one could know. That no one could see. And I am sure that she didn’t understand this reaction either, but I didn’t want to talk anymore. And for the first time, she didn’t press.
This is the why behind this post. This is where this came from out of the blue. All because of some photos I saw that brought that thing back to the surface. And I am sure some of you, maybe several know what photos I am speaking of. No, I will NOT give you the name. I will NOT tell you where to find them. I know for many of you, they will be a trigger, and I refuse to point the way.
Be safe, remind yourselves that you are in the present, that the abusers you endured can no longer touch you, and I will do the same. Because life doesn’t stop. The world doesn’t bow to me just because I saw some stupid photos.