A woman is curled up in the fetal position, tears streaming down her bruised cheeks, questioning why she’s there, as the man she loves fills her head with words – “slut,” “bitch,” “ho” – that are killing her softly.
We will call this woman “Angela” and she was a victim of domestic violence.
It was Angela’s first year at college and she was excited to be attending Eastern Washington University. She looked at it as a “window of opportunity for the future” and the dorms were a great place to meet new people.
“Fall quarter was a blast,” Angela said, although she did neglect her studies. She partied, met people, and was enjoying the much awaited college life. “I was having an incredible time!”
Then, during winter quarter, Angela met another student – who we’ll call “Jared” – and the two began dating.
“He was everything I wanted in a boyfriend,” Angela said remembering how it used to be. “We would fall asleep together, wake up together, go to our classes, and then just spend the rest of the day with each other.”
After four months of dating, Jared’s personality took a Mr. Hyde turn. He became enraged at Angela for stopping by her friend’s house – her friend was of the male gender.
Jared tossed Angela around his apartment by her hair and shook her by her arms. She tried to fight back, but it was no use to his male strength and by the end of the night, she was bruised and sore all over.
After the adrenaline had lowered, Jared tried to apologize through his tears for what he had done. Angela, in utter shock, laid in bed and listened to Jared say that he couldn’t believe “he would do that to his baby” and “he promised that he’d never do it again.”
Jared’s words won the fight – she stayed.
Angela believed his sincerity and never thought he would do it again. But, she was just lying to herself.
She now realizes that there were signs that led up to that first abuse, but she ignored them – Jared would never hit her, right?
Angela explains that she had heard rumors he hit his previous girlfriend, but when asked, Jared denied it. He had thrown a basketball at her once, and pushed her, but after she left he apologized and Angela never thought it would escalate to what it did.
But, that was only the beginning. It happened again, and again, and again. Each time, he played the same mind game and his words were repeated.
“I never actually believed him,” Angela said. “I just wanted to.”
The beatings just got worse, too. Angela recalls a bloody nose from being pushed off a bed, a bruise on her leg from being whipped with a wet towel, bruises on her arms and face.
“I would be covered in them, just from him grabbing me,” Angela explains. “He didn’t hit me for awhile, just threw me around a bit. He was smart about it.”
Angela even remembers Jared threatening to kill her if she left him or told anyone about the abuse.
Finally, after six months of mistreatment, summertime came and all the students headed to where they had come from, including Jared and Angela. Jared planned on not returning to Eastern the following year, so Angela took that opportunity to get as much distance between them as she could.
The two talked on the phone, and he even tried to convince her to move with him, but she refused. He tried to control her across the miles, but Angela’s friends and family helped her stay strong.
“I don’t even want to know what would have happened if him and I hadn’t moved away from each other,” Angela frowns. “I might still be with him.”
But, Angela did manage to cut all her ties with Jared and returned to Eastern the following year.
Angela is happier than ever – and single, too. She says that a day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t remember the cruelty she suffered during her first year at college, but it reminds her how much she’s worth and how she never deserved to be treated that way.
It bothers Angela that she didn’t see the warning signs before she got in too deep, but she realizes what they are now and regrets not listening to the words of her friends.
She never went to the police, because she explains she was frightened for her life, but she got lucky when he moved away.
Angela was saved only by sheer luck.
Others who aren’t that lucky, and choose not to involve the law, will remain trapped in this type of a relationship for who knows how long. But, there are many services for women who are involved in abusive relationships.
Angela never got professional help in her circumstance, but she said, “I sometimes question if I still need to talk to someone. “It’s been a long time since Jared left, but I will be permanently effected by what he did to me – mentally and physically.”
She was rescued by the fate that her boyfriend had to move away. Both her and Jared were not in a stable place, being that they were in college.
Other women aren’t so fortunate, though, and need a helping hand in getting out and staying away.
Eastern Washington University offers counseling for their abused students and there are also programs and help provided in Spokane by the YWCA, the Spokane Mental Health, and many more that can be found in the yellow pages under domestic violence.
Angela ends with words of wisdom to other women, “There are warning signs, but it’s up to you whether or not you want to pay attention. Stop it before it happens to you.”