How many times have I asked myself if I should do more? Push more? Tell someone? Demand something be done? How many times?
But you always tell me that you are okay, not to interfere, to let you forget it. You tell me you can handle it. You remind me you’ve lived with him for eighteen years, so yes, you can handle a few more months. I tell you that I understand, but I don’t. Not really. You don’t deserve this. You are a shining light and he, he is black death, plaguing you, plaguing me.
How can you shine after eighteen years of his fists?
Bruises fade, but you do not. You darken your eyes with kohl, while he darkens your skin with his disgust. Your smile lights up the room in ways his anger could never stifle. Never. I know.
I taste your blood though I have wash it from my hands, my face, my clothing. I see your bruises, your shame, your loathing for that which you cannot help but be, to him. Only to him.
How long did he hate you? How long did you suffer under his force of will, his forcible blows that break your fingers, your arm, but never your spirit? Not for long anyway. Your soul is resilient. Hurt, shame, silence, and then, we talk, and you reassure me that everything will be okay. You need a few months to make your escape. Only a few. A place of your own, away from him, away from your past, and then you are free. Some day. Soon. Just a few more months.
Now, I say. This time. Please. I beg until you grow angry with me. I tell you there is no time like the present. Why wait? Why take one more beating? Go now. Come with me. Do anything, but return to his home, his shame, his fists on your fragile flesh, your beloved soul.
You are okay, you tell me. After such bruises, he will not harm you again for days, maybe weeks, you insist. I let you convince me, though I do not agree that you are safe. I want to push, to help, to call the police and have him arrested. I do not want your anger, your shame, your betrayal to talk me out of it this time. Run, flee, escape the abuse before it goes too far, because one blow, one punch, one hate-laced word is too much, my shining star, my guiding light.
But I nod. You know him better than I do. I want you safe. You wish just a little more time to plan your new life.
You deserve more. More happiness, safety, love. You deserve less. Less pain, bruises, excuses.
My hands shake in my lap. I twist my fingers together, staring at them. Knuckles white, tremble with shades of red. Blood cakes my cuticles, my nails are broken. I relive it; them, tearing me away from you, your broken face, your twisted body, your blood. Blood. Blood. Everywhere. Bloody, broken, and alone. Him, nowhere to be found, except his palm print, red, smudged hand painted on the wall.
Vague shapes rush around, teal colored scrubs with bodies hidden within, but I see nothing but red. Red I do not wish to see. Red no one should see. My dear friend, my life, my shining star, I must insist: tell someone, report him. I must help you away from him before it is too late. I know you will hate me for interfering, but dear heart, I must tell someone, for you, for me, for him.
One shape, splattered with blood, stands before me. I blink. The red stains are real, not my memory of you, us, that room, broken, bruised, surreal.
“I am so sorry,” the teal shape says, his voice laced with detachment, melting failure over his hands folded neatly before him.
He blurs. I cry.
Someone calls himself ‘detective’ and sits beside me. I nod. Yes, now I will talk. I know you don’t wish me to, but I will defy you now. I will interfere. I will speak up… too late.
The most common method for coping with abuse is denial. The courage to stand up for those who will not admit it themselves is both admirable and necessary. No one deserves bruises from loved ones. Ever.