In truth, I really struggle with writing this series. It’s been bothering me and not too long ago I figured out why: It’s not going to be easy interviewing a friend about her personal experiences as a victim-turned-survivor of domestic violence/sexual assault while remaining neutral at the same time. Still, she wants her story told and trusts me enough to share it.
Part 1 (with possible triggers) ended with Micah talking about how her ex tried to shove a piece of paper in her eye. I didn’t want to dwell on that particular injury because although it was one of the most obvious, it’s not the worse she’s sustained…here we go with part 2:
CJ: I’m really sorry. You’ve been through so much… After the two of you met and the relationship started getting serious, did you have any idea the relationship would take a turn for the worse?
MC: At first I didn’t think I would have any trouble, but looking back… I still didn’t know it would ever be like that.
CJ: When you look back, what stands out? Like, at what point did you realize your relationship was headed in the wrong direction?
MC: I remember he used to meet me after most of my classes and always offered to carry my books back to my dorm room. At first it was really sweet and everyone kept telling me he was such as gentleman. Then one day I wasn’t feeling well so I left class early and went to the cafeteria to get a soda, you know, to settle my stomach. I lost track of time and just stayed there hanging out with friends. And I had my phone on silent from when I was in class because I’m easily distracted but by the time I looked at it, I had about 20 missed calls and probably 12 or 13 voice mails from him! I mean, talk about extreme!
CJ: Yes, that was extreme. Did you confront him about them?
MC: Yeah, I did but he said he was worried. He stopped by my class like he always did because he was really looking forward to carrying my books back to my dorm. So he was worried and he looked so sad. I felt sorry for him… (Her voice trails off.)
A strange space of silence stood between us.
MC: I should have known that was a problem. But I really didn’t see it at the time. I just thought ‘here’s this cute guy who’s crazy about me!’ I guess I was wrong. I can’t believe I was that stupid!
CJ: You weren’t stupid. You’ve never been stupid. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a red flag because we get caught up in emotions; that “spark” and chemistry that you can have with another person. These feelings are real…
I reminded her that very few people were openly talking about domestic violence and red flags when she first began dating this individual. I suggested that she cut herself some slack and with that the interview was over. At that moment I realized I was no longer writing or reporting.
In an instant I had returned to being her support system; just her friend.
If there is anything to be learned from Micah’s story, anything at all, it would be to remind the world that most people do not simply walk into an abusive relationship and that victims/survivors are not stupid. Her story, like many others, begins with the fun and charismatic personality who quickly wins over family and friends alike until that one day when their obsessions are not so cute anymore. Suddenly, there’s an awareness that all of the sweetness and chivalry hasn’t been what it seems…
- A thing called prevalence: Life and death decisions are constantly being made, even when it appears that it’s safe to leave. (The most dangerous time and likelihood that someone might be killed is when they try to leave.)