A few years ago, a woman with whom I’m extremely close got into a relationship. I didn’t really know a lot about the guy, but something about him just didn’t feel right. They seemed to argue a lot and would have extreme lows where it seemed for sure they’d break up, only to show up the next day like they were the most loving couple in the world. After a few months, her demeanor started to change. She started gaining weight and her personality went from joyous and outgoing to quiet and reclusive.
I was always talking with her and asking what was going on, but with no real response. Finally she started telling me the stories. She told me about how he would threaten to kill her and how he held a knife up to her throat on numerous occasions, telling her that if she ever left he would kill her and her entire family. Obviously I told her she needed to get out of the relationship, but she always tried to assure me that everything was different now.
It would be different for about a week, but then another incident would occur. She would show up with bruises or puncture wounds. I begged her to let me help her get away but she refused. I desperately wanted to confront him (re: hit with my car), but we both knew if I did anything it would only make things worse for her later on when they were alone.
I tried to call the police but if she wasn’t willing to admit abuse or press charges, there was nothing they could do. I felt completely helpless and I was watching one of the closest people in my life be decimated.
I went back to Florida, where I was living at the time, and lived in constant fear of getting a phone call from a hospital or a family member saying that she was dead. It felt more like a matter of when, rather than if it would happen. My heart sank every time I would see her mother’s name show up on my phone. Is this it? Am I going to her funeral next week? I got a call a few weeks later from her mom, who was frantically crying. It turns out my friend had gotten pregnant by her abuser, which caused him to feel complete control over her. Now he could not only threaten her life, but the life inside of her as well. The frantic call wasn’t about the pregnancy; she had finally left him. He had thrown her on the ground and stomped her stomach until he murdered the baby. It seemed as though she had enough and reached the breaking point.
Her mom asked if she could come stay with me for a while to get away from him because she was terrified. Her mom was driving her to get some food and my friend thought she saw her abuser drive by and started hysterically crying while crawling onto the floor of the car to hide. She had to get out of there.
We bought her plane tickets to fly down the next day and help put this all behind her. Something was still off. She kept talking about him in a positive light and would subtlety downplay what he did to her. She was always on her phone and I feared she was talking to him. Her phone ended up not working anymore, so she would use my iPad constantly. If she was awake, she was on the iPad. I didn’t want to treat her like a child and ask to see what she was doing, but I didn’t want her going down the same path again either. I would casually ask what she was looking at or if she had seen a certain YouTube video so I could sit next to her and catch a glimpse of the screen.
After a week I found out she had been talking to him the entire time.
They were planning a life together and how things would be different now. I felt angry, betrayed, frustrated, but most of all helpless. I didn’t have anything to gain from helping her except to see her safe. I told her I would pay for her to get help. She could pick anywhere in the world and I would help her start a new life there. She told me she was flying back to her hometown but wasn’t going to see her abuser. Instead she was going to stay with her friend Tiffany.
I reluctantly drove her to the airport and we ended up arguing the whole way. I was terrified she would go back to him. I dropped her off at the airport, told her I loved her, and watched her walk through the doors.
That was three years ago and I haven’t seen her since. I texted Tiffany when I got home to see if she was picking her up, but she didn’t know anything about it. My friend had lied to us all and was going back to her abuser. She got a new phone and didn’t give any of us the number. Her mom would occasionally get calls from her calling from a blocked number. She chose to go back to him and defends his every action.
I heard she’s still with him and they have a baby now, but I have no idea what her life is like. He got exactly what he wanted; he got her isolated from everyone that loved and cared about her. She’s gone and I can only hope and pray that one day she comes back.
So many people are defending Ray Rice because his girlfriend is now his wife. “If she forgave him, then why should we care?” It’s the same story we heard with Chris Brown and Rihanna. But what you have to understand is abusers like this inflict pain beyond physical. It’s a constant emotional and psychological attack. Their victims are convinced it’s their own fault and they’ll never find anyone would could possibly love them. Their self worth gets to the point where they feel like they almost deserve the abuse. It’s vile and repulsive.
Ray Rice’s wife is not the person to ask about the character of Ray Rice. To judge the character of Ray Rice, look no further than the video of him knocking out his wife and dragging her out of an elevator like a bag of garbage. Abusers abuse. It’s what they do.
If you’re in a similar situation, please reach out for help. You are not to blame and, no matter what you’ve been convinced of, there are people who love you. Your life is meant to be so much more than where you are right now, and it’s never too late to change.