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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bewildered – The Monster Lurks (Part One)

The summer before college was a whirlwind of activity. I could taste freedom. I was going to be away from home for the first time ever. It was bittersweet, scary and exhilarating all at the same time. I relished the new experiences that emerged from the newfound independence.

I met him at a summer dance at the lake. He was blue eyed, smiling and charming. He had a great sense of humor and seemed to be the perfect companion in every way. We started dating and I was worried that we would only have the summer but then ecstatic  when I realized he was attending a college within 30 minutes of where I was attending college.

We set out to college and helped each other move into our respective dorms. Saying goodbye was tough knowing we’d not see each other until the weekend. The weeks flew by and settled into a routine. We’d email back and forth and see each other on weekends. About 3 months into the school year, we attended a fall concert on his campus grounds. It was a great night and as we were walking home afterwards, we were chatting about all kinds of things. It wasn’t until much later that, I realized he had actually had some beer that evening which factored into the situation.

One minute we were holding hands, happy and talking, the next I was pressed up against the wall in a corner with his hands around my throat. It happened so fast I had no time to react or think. All I could do was try to gasp for breath and understand why. What did I do? What did I say? I don’t even remember what he was ranting about. He was incoherent though and as quickly as I’d been shoved into the corner I was let go.

I moved away, shivering in fear. I had never been treated like this and had no idea what had caused this reaction. I had no experience with this kind of behavior so I had no idea what to do or how to react. I was terrified that anything I did was going to set him off again. So I stood there almost frozen in place, trying to appear as small and insignificant as possible to not draw his ire again.

He seemed to recover and grabbed my hand and we started walking again. Within minutes everything seemed back to normal. The rest of the weekend went by without any other incident. He was even more charming and treated me so tenderly the rest of the weekend that I found I had forgiven the incident within hours of the occurrence. The only indication that I had of the incident was bruising on my neck in the perfect shape of his fingers.

I went back to my dorm Sunday evening and life resumed as normal. The incident faded along the bruises to the back of my mind, almost like it had not occurred. My boyfriend was the same charming guy he’d always seemed to be. I must have imagined it. Maybe I had done something that caused him to snap momentarily. At any rate, everything seemed to be normal on the surface. Little did I know that the monster lurked right below the surface just waiting for the right combination to reappear.

Kathie Hitt

This blog series is from my personal experience recounting my side of an abusive situation. It is my hope that it will raise awareness and educate others about what this side of the relationship looks and feels like. It is a situation that I never thought I’d be in as a smart girl turning into a woman. I was salutatorian of my high school class. This type of thing can happen to anyone. It can blindside you and make you feel like you are literally nothing. Some people never recover fully from the events. I was lucky and can share my story in the hope that it will help others.