She stands there waiting, knowing that as soon as she opens the door, she is going to be disappointed. He promised her he wouldn’t drink today. He promised her he would remain sober. His drinking habits have gotten worse. He can no longer just have one drink. One drink leads to another and another until he blacks out and gets violent. There is no longer a point that he can stop before he has had too much to handle. She made him promise not to drink for fear that she would have to be on her guard.
She pushes the door open and he is setting on the bed drinking from a whiskey bottle. Her heart stops. She knows that this night will not end well. Whiskey sends him into a violent rage quicker than anything. He looks at her, not caring that he let her down. He simply says “Had you not asked me to not drink today, I wouldn’t have drank at all.” She stands, frozen in time, her heart numb to the pain. She turns and walks out of the room without saying a word. She knows that anything she says will just make the situation worse and the last thing she needs is a huge scene in front of her family.
She returns to the festivities and the crowd gathers around to watch the Bride and Groom cut the cake. He cuts a piece for her and gently places it in her mouth. She cuts his piece shoving it into his face playfully, knowing she is going to pay for that later. It’s a cheap thrill for now, but she knows deep down the beating is already coming. He has already started to slur his words and he sways a bit from side to side. He brushes it off with a hysterical laugh that only confirms her suspicions. He will get even.
She socializes with all the family, bouncing around from crowd to crowd. She plays a little croquet with her nieces and nephews. She pushes the smaller kids on the tire swing. She has decided to enjoy the day because she knows she will never get a chance like this to have all the family over again. He has already alienated her from her family and friends. She no longer has a job because he would show up at her work and cause a scene. She got fired from her dream job opportunity. She can no longer spend time with her closest cousin because he has gone so far as to accuse them of sleeping together. She knows she will never get to see most of these people again. She might as well cherish their company while she can…
The guest begins to leave and she walks out to the driveway to say goodbye to her aunt. To her surprise she sees her husband talking up a storm, leaning into the window of her aunt’s car. As she gets closer she hears her husband’s drunken slurs. He is telling her aunt that if he wasn’t married, he would take her home tonight. He is trying to persuade her aunt, and making sexual advances. She does the only thing she can think of, she begins apologizing for his behavior and she makes excuses for the way he is acting. Her aunt seems to understand, but tells her she will call her in the morning. Perhaps she suspects that things are not what they seem.
The last car pulls out of the driveway and she waves goodbye to her family. It is time to clean up. She begins pulling down the decorations and placing them in a pile. She folds up the chairs and places them against the tree. Suddenly, she feels a sharp pain in her wrist. He grabs her tightly and shoves her to the ground. He rarely gives her any warning before he attacks, he loves to see the fear in her eyes. She cries out in pain and braces herself for another hit. He kicks her in the stomach and she curls into a ball. He releases all his rage and picks her up off the ground and slams her into the huge oak tree. She composes herself and quickly turns to run. She runs into the house grabbing her keys and manages to make it to the front door. He isn’t coming after her, perhaps he is done. She waits in silence, ready to bolt out the door if she hears his footsteps across the kitchen. Nothing more happens. Her heartbeat slows as she looks at the clock. It has been nearly three hours since his attack. She calmly gathers her jacket and lays the keys on the table by the door. She steps outside quietly. She searches the back yard and just as she is about to turn to go back in the house, she spots him. He is lying face down in the driveway. She begins walking toward him to inspect that he is breathing. He lets out a moan. There is no blood and he is apparently breathing. She remembers a saying her grandfather had always told her and snickers to herself. “Let sleeping dogs lie” and she decides now would be a good time to apply that advice. She walks back into the house as the tears begin to flow. She studies the marriage license laying on the table. What would happen if she never filed this paper? Should she just pretend this day never happened? Questions run through her mind as she drops onto the couch and sobs.
She wakes the next morning to a slew of phone calls. Her aunt has kept her promise and fills her in about the sexual advances her husband had made on their wedding day. She apologizes again and makes more excuses. She explains that he didn’t mean the way she took it. He was just trying to flirt with her and make her feel good about herself. She explains that he was too drunk to understand what he was saying. Her aunt tells her that it’s not too late to walk away from him. She thanks her for her concern and apologizes once again before the conversation ends and she hangs up the phone. Another call comes in, from another aunt, who is extremely furious. She calms her aunt and tells her to explain everything. Apparently her husband had been a busy man. He made his sexual advances toward her as well, her uncle Mike overheard the commotion and that was why they had left so early. She apologizes and makes excuses once again. Her aunt is not buying it. After a while of trying to persuade her aunt, the woman gives in and wishes her the best in her marriage, but explains that she will not be back to visit for a while because of his behavior. The phone call ends and she is crying once again.
Her husband wakes from his slumber, confused on why he is sleeping in the yard. He walks into the house and finds her sobbing, he tries to comfort her with a small embrace. She pulls away, the thought of him consoling her makes her sick to her stomach, he has no idea what he has done. He asks her what is wrong and she tells him everything that happened. Like usual, he denies it all and claims that she is making it up. He remembers nothing. He blames it on her, tells her that she provoked him. After all, she knows what he is like when he drinks, she shouldn’t make him angry. She smiles at him and musters the strength to apologize, denying him will not improve the situation. She accepts the guilt and all the blame. She hugs him and the honeymoon period begins once again…..
Abusers often blame the victim for the abuse. They may say “you made me do it.” This is not true. People are responsible for their own actions. They may say they are sorry and tell you it will never happen again, even though it already has.
After abuse starts, it usually gets worse if you don’t take steps to stop it. If you are in an abusive relationship, ask for help. This may be hard, but know that you are not alone. Your family; friends; fellow church members; employer; doctor; or local police department, hospital, or clinic can help you. These national hotlines can help you find resources in your area.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), or see the website at www.ndvh.org.
The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline toll-free at 1-866-331-9474 or (1-866-331-8453 TTY).
The Child help Line toll-free at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), or see the website at www.childhelp.org.