“According to recent research, 29% of young women are either in an abusive relationship or have been in one.
Most of them do not seek help, because they are scared of their partners, they claim to be in love or the few who are so passive that they do not even know something wrong is being done to them.
The best option in an abusive relationship is to get out as soon as you can, do not expect your partner to change, because it is most likely an exercise in futility. Leave while you can, so you get a chance to live. We can help you escape, give you a chance to live a normal life. We will give you a new identity”. I heard these words on the radio many times in the past month and I replayed them in my head as I sat in front of a mirror in a motel downtown.
I could see a tall woman, skin the colour of cream, a hollow neck, scars that extended from the neck to regions covered by a big blouse, a face that some would have described as beautiful some years ago, with bags of drooping flesh beneath her sunken eyes. Nothing kills me as much as those dead eyes, staring at everything with no desire to challenge or be challenged, devoid of life, robbed of the sparks. I could barely recognise the image, but then I knew who it was. I was looking at me. My image. Wondering what had happened to me was a waste of time, I knew what happened. Jason happened. Jason, Jason, Jason, the man I call…..called husband. I shuddered at the thought of his name.
Jason was not every girl’s dream of a perfect man. He was not 6ft tall, insanely handsome, he was not rich, and he neither had full hair nor crazy abs. No, he had abs back then when we met, but I do not know if he still has them. The thoughts his presence inspires in me now have absolutely nothing to do with his appearance. I cringe whenever he comes near. Ours is a predator-prey relationship, he is the predator and I am the prey as I have been for as long as I can recall. Jason’s arsenal is filled with all kinds of things, physical, intellectual and perhaps psychic weaponry. His presence fills me with probably more fear than I would experience if I was faced with rattle snakes, and I really hate snakes.
I met Jason in my last year of college. He had a great sense of humour, he was a genius, had brilliant ideas and I always learnt something each time we spoke. So, it was pretty easy to fall in love with him. We were happy good together and I would have preferred we just remained lovers and not get married, because Jason had a way of making everyone look stupid. He took the whole being a genius thing too far, so much so that no one could have an opinion wherever he was, he would always shoot down whosoever dared to air any opinion different from his, including me. I just thought it was one of those things and so, I put my reservations aside and stayed with him. We got married and everybody was happy. At least that was how it seemed.
Now, some five years later I am sitting in this seedy motel staring at the image of me I barely recognise in the mirror. I sigh and the bed sags beneath my weight, threatening to get cut in two. I chuckled sadly, as I remembered the queen sized bed he ordered for would be arriving at the house today. I had no luggage, as I would not want Jason to have the slightest inkling that I was gone until I had reached the other end of the world. I reached for my purse and its content spilled out on the floor startling me out of my reverie. I stared as the bottle of dye rolled away from me and a pair of scissors clattered on the floor, reminding me of why I was in this motel in the first place. I picked up a paper bag containing clothes I would have never dreamt of wearing and with the things that fell out of my purse, I proceeded to the bathroom with determination etched on my face.
Jason was abusive in every sense of the word. His words were incessantly caustic and over the years they have successfully stripped off every vestige of self-respect I ever had. I could not offer suggestions or make any decision in the home, assuming what we had could be called a home. Every statement I made was ridiculed and had holes poked in them and insults hurled at me until I learnt to not speak at all. I had to quit my job after he came to my place of work and slapped my boss for calling me after work hours. I decided I would work from home, but my darling husband packed up my computers and gadgets in the middle of the night and would not tell me where he kept them. I have a feeling he burnt them. The beatings started when I complained that I was not built to be a housewife. The statement earned me a slap after which Jason said, “of course you were not built to be a housewife, you cannot handle even something that simple”. I was too stunned to shed tears.
I heal quickly, so my wounds virtually disappear in no time, leaving little or no scars. I had an unwanted hobby which was coming up with excuses for the injuries I did not seem to be able to avoid. The scars people saw, I got from knife wounds in the kitchen or I walked into a wall, and the silliest so far, I slipped on a banana peel, hit my head on a kitchen cabinet and dropped the hot pan of oil on I was carrying on my legs.
I had this fear I would wake up one day in Nirvana, because my husband had killed me. I always felt like a little hamster to his pit-bull (cute and helpless to his ferocious and scary self). We had no kids and for that I will be eternally grateful.
When I called the number from the radio, I was given instructions which I followed to the letter. I picked up my travel papers from the newspaper stand on my way to this motel; how they got it there in time for me to pick it up, I’ll never know. I liked the way they operated, identities were sacred and they never demanded my real name. I went along with everything they said, but I put my foot down on the plastic surgery option. Jason had taken everything from me, I would not let him take my face too.
Feeling tears on my face, I jerked back to the present. In the sink lay unequal strands and locks of hair, my once full and long brown hair now reposed on my head in a really short bunch dyed blue-black. The irony of it all hit me, it was a good colour on me, and after all I had been wearing it on my face for all of five years. I smiled sadly at the mirror; all I needed now was turquoise rimmed glasses and I would become Samantha Brooks, the woman in the new I.D I held in my hands.
I had a new identity. I had a new chance at life. Now, Jason will never find me or so I thought.