I remember the first time I saw him. I had just turned 18 and was at my first, yes my first, boy girl party. He was tall dark and very handsome and he oozed confidence. I was shy and a bit of a wallflower, but he wandered over and asked me my name. From that day on we would be inseparable. My family approved, as he was charming and attractive and he said all of the right things.
I remember my grandmother once saying how he seemed to not take his eyes off of me, a good thing I thought at the time. We dated for six months exclusively, going to the beach daily and talking on the phone until late into the night. I was "a good girl" so to speak and had planned to abstain until my wedding day, despite the constant pressure that crept up after the first couple of months. He was fairly experienced and I was innocent and I think that was part of the attraction. Needless to say, the time would come and I had no regret,after all we had planned to get married. He was a quiet and introspective soul, or so it appeared. Below the surface he had deep wounds and was insecure, surprising for a man so attractive and popular. He would reveal to me his deepest fears and show me the scars that were remnants of a violent attract by a group of thugs on the beach late one night. He never sounded bitter and I found that quite admirable. Soon after we would marry and our union would be sealed.

I remember the first time I saw him get angry. An old friend of mine that I had not seen in awhile gave me a brief hug and I would introduce my new husband. He seemed fine at first, until we arrived home and he put his fist through the wall in the corridor. That was the first sign. He began to seem more and more on edge and would lose his temper quickly, yelling and throwing things. It was not long until we were asked to move from our new apartment. We would soon move in with his parents who had a verey distant relationship. His father was a drinker and his mother quiet and submissive and voices were never raised at least not by her.

He began to go out more frequently. One night, when he came home close to dawn, I questioned him and stated my displeasure. I recall him raising his hand, then stopping himself when his mother came into the room. That was the second sign. His father had little respect for privacy and would often startle me by coming into our room when I was home alone, without knocking. Luckily or so I thought, we would move to our new home soon after. I would never mention his father's surprise visits. Things seemed to improve and I had made some new friends and felt optomistic. I left for the day with a friend of mine whose car broke down and we found ourselves stranded. I called him to ask if he could come pick us up which he did. He was oddly quiet during the drive home. We dropped off my friend and as I exited the car walking towards our new house, I felt a hard kick to my spine. I remember falling to the ground and him yelling for me to get up, but I couldn't. I couldn't walk. He grudgingly took me to the hospital where I stayed for several weeks. I had suffered a fracture of the spine and due to my underweight frame the damage was substantial. I would tell the doctors that I fell and they questioned how falling backward could cause such an injury, but I stuck to my story. I would share the same story with my family and they bought it. I returned home on crutches with no apology and life went on.

I was always an intelligent girl and to this day it is difficult to understand why the relationship did not end there. There would be more outbursts and more brutality. I recall arriving at my mother's house one day with a pair of large sunglasses covering my two black eyes and she seemed oblivious. I remember confiding to his aunt on a short visit, that he hit me and she responded by explaining that a beating from your man is something you should expect from time to time. I knew that she was out of her mind, but then so was I. I would not long after become pregnant with my first child and things were quiet for those first nine months. The outbursts would eventually start up again, and they would become more unexpected and more brutal. I remember the last night I spent in my new house. My baby was at my mother's for the weekend and we were out of town staying at a relative's house near the ocean. It was just the two of us. I remember being awakened by being attacked sexually then punched and dragged out of our bed, and thrown down a flight of basement stairs. When I regained consciousness, he was gone. I dialed 911 and an ambulance arrived shortly after. I would finally share the truth with the police, with the hospital and with my family who seemed oddly surprised. A restraining order would soon follow.

I would take my child and move in with my grandparents who were happy to provide a safe haven. I recall my grandmother telling me that he had come by with a group of friends while I was gone, and that he threatened my grandfather. My grandfather was elderly and frail, but took no prisoners. I was told he stood his ground, said his peace and sent them on their way without incident. I began to worry about my grandparent's safety and asked my mother for her help. There was only one answer and it would involve relocating. I would soon disappear with my child to a new place far away. Once settled, I would hear stories on the resources he would use to try and find us. It was not that he missed his child, but that he wanted me to pay. Lucky for the two of us, he would eventually lose interest and give up. After all this was a man who had no real interest in anyone but himself.

His self hatred and selfishness would be our salvation. The familiar phrase "if he hits you once he will hit you again" cannot be repeated enough. While the reasons women stay with these types of men vary, they are always fear based. If a woman does decide to stay and is lucky enough to survive the abuse, she will certainly have the scars to show for it. If she is not so lucky, there is a headstone somewhere with her name on it.

Author's Bio: 

I'm a freelance writer and former New Yorker now living in New Mexico. I have a legal background and at one time, published a weekly column titled "The Legal Eye". I also have a background in the health care field and have written numerous articles on mental health issues, self help and self realization. I am a firm believer that self awareness is the key to contentment.