Trigger warning: Domestic violence
“Stay quiet. It’s nobody’s business to know. Stay quiet.” These words ring in my head as I sit smiling next to so-called friends on a barstool. I hear the whispers. I hear the conversations they have, unbeknown to them that I am within hearing distance. “Just stay quiet. Let them talk,” I convince myself time and time again.
They do not know the story about why I am alone on this barstool. They just know that a few months ago I was wearing a 1.5 carat diamond on my left hand and posting seemingly happy pictures on social media of what appeared to be a great couple.
But what they don’t know is the night the cops were called after I was held at gunpoint.
What they don’t know are the bruises I hid on my arms time and time again because he “accidentally” grabbed me too hard.
What they don’t know are the countless holes in his walls and the blood-soaked knuckles I cleaned up time and time again because “I just know how to push his buttons.”
What they don’t know is me sitting in a cop car, shaking and cut, and him standing in the driveway with his hands covered in blood.
What they don’t know is that moments after those beach day photos, he threatened to kill me on the drive home because “how can someone stomach to even look at you?”
What they don’t know is how he stopped touching me three months prior to dumping me.
Yet here we all sit. Here they all talk, creating their own story because I refuse to tell mine. Maybe it’s fear of the consequences that could follow. Maybe it’s fear that if I speak of it, it will make it all real again. Maybe it’s fear that if I open myself back up, it can happen again. Maybe it’s fear of looking stupid because I stayed for five long dreadful years.
I am more fearful now of speaking on the matter than I was living it. As a society, survivors are often placed in this dreadful place of remorse. When we are finally free from the situations, we often remain silent because we don’t want to create a discomfort among friends and acquaintances. How ridiculous is that? We stay silent to make you comfortable, yet we lived in a constant state of discomfort for years right under your noses. It stops now.
But how do you speak of such truth without the fear? How can I talk about this past without discomfort for myself and everyone around me? Will nobody look at me the same anymore? Will I always be the girl with the fragile, screwed up past?
So maybe it’s just easier that I let them talk. I let them whisper. I allow them to create their own monologue of why my relationship failed and why I’m sitting alone on this barstool.