By Markie Doczi | Featured Contributor
I remember the day I first became a statistic. I was nineteen years old, and I had a good head on my shoulders. Not being smart was never my problem; it was extreme naiveté that had gotten me here.
My husband had just slapped me across the face for the first time. I felt the weight of the world suddenly bearing down upon my shoulders, and I could see my plans for the future blurring before my eyes as the thought slowly crept across my mind:
I’m that girl.
Suddenly I was just another in a sea of young women, lured into a ‘bad relationship’— a term which I would come to learn covered all manner of sins. I’d had a plan for my life. I wanted to marry young (as I had), and saw myself having children while I was still young so that when they were grown and gone I’d be able to enjoy my retirement years before old age set in.
Now, as I stood frozen in that horrible moment, all of those dreams seemed to be vanishing. Then came the next inevitable thought:
What am I going to do?
We had only been married for two months. I had never seen myself as the type of woman to tolerate abusive behavior, but I was also not the type of woman who took her vows lightly. I hadn’t gotten married thinking that I’d just leave if it didn’t work out.
Now I was angry, because he knew that about me and had taken advantage of it. How dare he use me in this way! We had been together for over a year, and not one time before this had he ever raised a hand to me.
I felt betrayed. Duped. And trapped.
Over the next year and a half, things gradually worsened. The isolated incidents became more frequent, and the bruises became harder to hide. Along with the physical abuse came the mental abuse: after knocking me down he’d shout things like, “Why do you make me do this to you?!” Eventually it culminated in an incident that is a story of its own: ultimately he was arrested, and it was the first time he’d ever had real consequences for his actions. I breathed a sigh of relief at this…and gave him one more chance after he got out of jail.
It didn’t take long for him to slap me again. Shocked and hurt, I finally left him.
Divorced by the age of twenty-one, I again felt such failure and shame. It took me years to stop seeing myself as a statistic, and start seeing what I really was…
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