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On the J-O-B. That's where I met him. Quentin Cole was his name. Everyone called him Q for short. Q was an extremely attractive man. He was 6'2", had the waviest-curliest-jet-black hair that you ever saw. This man had the deepest dimples, hazeliest of green eyes, and a physique to die for. He always dressed well and smelled so, so g-o-o-d. WOW!
Eventually Q and I somehow connected, and as time went on we began a dating relationship that lasted for several years. Ultimately Q ended up living with my children and me. They were about 6 and 7, I think. Q, my son and daughter would often engage in wrestling and play time. They all enjoyed this time spent together.
Q was originally from Pennsylvania so he only lived with me during the week. On weekends, he packed up what little belongings he had at my apartment and went to Pennsylvania to visit his parents and children.
My children used to visit their dad every other weekend. During one of their visits, and also this being one of the last two years of my relationship with Q, was when I had my first insight to his darker side.
Q loved to frequent bars and I guess because he was a DJ part-time he kinda-sorta got used to that environment. I was never a heavy drinker so I did not particularly care for that set. I had grown to care for Q, more than I wanted to admit so I would just go just to appease him. Besides I actually loved and respected this man. Did I say respected? Besides, if I told him that I did not want to go, he would complain so much that I would eventually give in and go anyway.
I lost so much of myself being in a relationship with Q. One evening after leaving a bar, we came home to my apartment. It must have been after 2 or 3 a.m. because the bar was closing as we were leaving. I was tired and a little tipsy also. Q always encouraged me to drink whenever we went out. If I did not he would get extremely wound up. I remember one night after coming home, Q was in the living room watching the television. I had taken off my clothes, showered, went back into the bedroom, closed the door but for a tiny crack, turned off the lights and climbed into bed and began to drift off to sleep.
Because I was not a heavy drinker, it only took a couple of drinks and I was off to la-la land. I do not recall how long I had been asleep before Q came in. He forced the door open with such power that he put a hole through the wall directly behind the doorknob. I awoke startled. I did not know what time it was but from the stinging feeling in my eyes I knew it had to be very early in the morning. I turned my back to him and attempted and go back to sleep. Q became really infuriated. He began yanking the covers off of me; he then forced me to lie on my back and straddled me. During this time, I must have been about 5'5" and 115 lbs. Q weighed about 190 lbs. As I mentioned previously, he was a little-over 6 feet.
"What are you doing?" I shrieked. I learned early in the relationship to speak calmly when addressing him, even if I was extremely angry. As I said before, he was usually a pretty nice guy but when he was angered, he turned into Mr. Hyde himself. He kept ranting about wanting me to get up and cook. I took a quick glance at the clock on the dresser and informed him that it was 4 a.m. That didn't matter to Q. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. Me being the rational one was not getting up at 4 a.m. to cook for ANYONE, and I told him so. Why did I ever say that? That remark warranted a swift punch in my upper thigh. The moment that I was struck began my cataclysmic plunge into the treacherous world of abuse. I was stunned and shocked. Q's behavior was not conducive to the actions of a man that loved and adored his woman as he repeatedly told me. Q didn't love me or anyone else. Q didn't love Q. I came to realize this later.
Whenever I would rewind that night inside my head I would ask myself one question. Why me?
Q was still straddled over me and now he was reaching toward my eyes. I didn't know what or why he was reaching at them so I started smacking his hand away. We began to tussle. Q was a third degree black belt and he was as strong as an ox. Eventually he over powered me, (which was easy to do considering how tiny I was); he pinned my arms behind my back (mind you he still straddled me), and to my surprise he held my eyelids open so that I could not blink. THIS MAN ACTUALLY SQUEEZED MY EYELIDS AND HELD THEM OPEN SO THAT I COULD NOT BLINK!! (Can you imagine being awakened at 4 a.m., having someone straddle your body, and have your eyelids forced to remain open?). How is one NOT to blink??? Truth really IS stranger than fiction. This was pure psychodrama in the raw. While he held my eyelids open he kept asking me "are you gonna get up and cook me something to eat now? I could not believe this was happening to ME. He kept going on and on about how he wanted me to cook for him and since I continued to refuse, he was not going to allow me to sleep. Think it stops here? It doesn't.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, he got off of me. I said nothing to him hoping that this devastating scenario had ended. I was focusing on the throbbing sensation that was coming from my thigh.
I eyed Q as he went to the closet, neatly hung up his clothes and changed into a sweat suit and sneakers. He lunged towards the bed and pounced on it. He pulled me off of the bed dragging me to the floor feet first. The back of my head hit the floor with a thud. At this point I was dumbfounded and truly petrified. Being abused was foreign to me. I was never abused before in my LIFE. This was something new to me. This type of stuff you only read or saw in the movies right? I concluded if I was quiet and did not resist him, he would get discouraged and leave me alone. Fat chance, who was I kidding?
Q grabbed the extension cord that just happened to conveniently be on top of the dresser. I could have punched MYSELF for having left it on the dresser in the first place. I bought it earlier in the week to extend a cord to an outlet for SOMETHING SOMEWHERE in the house. A plain old everyday extension cord. How could something so insignificant now carry so much weight? I never looked at extension cords in the regular way for quite some time.
Q dragged my anchored body to the corner just behind my bedroom door. He turned the lights off seemingly without doubt or hesitation, and as naturally as one would breath, he walked out. He closed the door behind him consciously, as though he was exiting the bedroom of a colicky baby who had finally quieted down and fallen asleep. Q closed that door s-l-o-w-l-y and released the doorknob even slower. Not only did he leave the room, he left the apartment!
I don't remember how long I was left on the floor in the darkness that night. I do remember thinking how grateful I was that my children were visiting their dad. I knew that I was too terrified to say anything or move. I was cold and confused. I was too afraid to utter a sound. Eventually, somehow I drifted off to sleep. I awoke to snippets of daylight appearing from behind the curtains. My back felt numb from being tied up for I don't know how long. To my chagrin the rudest awakening for me was when I looked up and saw Q lying comfortably, serenely, in MY bed. Whereas I remained on the floor behind MY door in captivity.
Once he awoke and saw me lying on the floor tied up (I was now in tears), he jumped up and ran over and began to untie me. He hugged and kissed me and whispered apologies in my ear. He reminded me how much he loved me. "You know this is your fault", he whispered. Whenever he violated me, he never failed to tell me that it happened because it-was-my-fault. No matter what I did or did not do, it was ALWAYS MY FAULT. If you hear negativism all the time you tend to believe it. Subsequently, and from the benefit of counseling, I realized that none of it was my fault. None of it! EVER!!!!
Once when my children were home, I believe we were all in the living room watching television or playing video games. Q got angry about something. I can't remember exactly what it was that set him off THIS time. Maybe it was because the sun went down or the wind blew or something, I can't recall. He and I were seated together on the couch. Out of nowhere, without rhyme or reason, he cupped the back of my head (I thought he was going to rub the back of my neck or something), and rammed it into the wall. Out of the clear freaking blue he did this! As I fell to the floor I heard my daughter cry out "MOMMY", and my son made a hissing sound. At this time, they knew all too well how erratic Q's temper was. Although I am sure that they wanted to run to my rescue, their intellect told them to stay put. Thank God for that. I didn't want them to see me cry so I sat there holding my head. I felt like such a fool.
I remembered feeling dim-witted coupled with dishonor because my children witnessed what was happening to me. I felt blameworthy. Witnessing the maltreatment that was being inflicted upon me was stripping them of their innocence. Miracuously, this was the "hub" that launched the indestructible bond between my children and me.
We grew to hate Q based upon the way that he controlled each of us, chiefly me. Although he never hit my children, he sometimes disregarded them. In my opinion that was just a speckled form of abuse.
After he left, I would go to my two and together we would laugh and talk about how silly Q's behavior was. I would always remind them that Q was the one with the problem, not us. I insured them that soon we would rid ourselves of him. I always meant what I said, and always said what I meant. This time was no different. They were reassured and entrusted that we would one day be free from the fury of Q.
My primary concern was ALWAYS to protect my children and their emotional esteem, so I adhered to what ever he did to me in silent seclusion.
During this period I endured Q's abuse. Which now escalated to getting punched harder in the thigh or having my arm-twisted until I heard the joint crack. Once when I was walking away from him he actually kicked me in my butt. My coccyx bone throbbed for months afterward. Another time I was choked to the point of passing out, only to awaken to his voice telling me that I had "faked" being unconscious in the first place. As a result, I was promptly whacked in the head with his shoe. What a jerk he was!!
Getting socked in the breast or any place where a bruise could be hidden with clothes was a mere formality to me. Yes I was a battered woman. Even though I didn't have the black eyes, or the busted lips, I was weather-beaten still. I was humiliated to tell the few friends I had and I never thought about telling my family back home in Chicago. NEVER! For two years I never spoke about this to anyone. Being assaulted was second nature in my world. Through it all, my spirit was never broken. I knew the determination that I harbored inside of my soul. I held onto the thought of one-day escaping Q.
I surmised people would think that I was too intelligent to allow myself to be/remain in a situation such as this. Fear and doubt are very powerful, powerful emotions. I have experienced first hand just how debilitating they can be. TRUST ME!! I had to teach myself the meaning of courage during that time in order to free myself from that cataclysmic circumstance. Which is exactly what I ultimately did. I began to develop a plan for my eventual escape.
In the long run, I sought help from a therapist for myself and for my little ones. Due to the fact that I immediately came to my children to explain away what they saw in terms of how Q abused me, luckily they did not internalize on a detrimental level, what they saw.
I later learned that I was defined as a co-dependant. The therapist classified co-dependants as "some of the most loving, caring people in the entire world". As I said before, I lost myself in loving Q. Loving Q was as toxic as drinking acid.
Two women were instrumental in getting me to a safe retreat enabling me to re-establish my life. One remains a very dear friend and the other is her mother. Every time I think of these women, my heart continues to overflow. (Thank you Carolyn and Karen. I know that I have offered thanks time and time again, but I can never say it enough. You two really were my saving grace. I was reborn the moment you reached out to me.)
I moved out of my apartment during one of Q's weekend visits to Pennsylvania. I left no note, no forwarding address, nothing. I just disappeared. I heard from a mutual friend of ours when he came back from Pennsylvania the weekend that I moved away, he cried like a baby. PICTURE THAT!!! How uncanny and PARADOXICALLY UNBELIEVABLE is that?
Today, I no longer loose myself in ANYTHING, relationships, or otherwise. I used to think for years before I sought help that I was somehow damaged because I was a battered woman. So abashed was I that it took YEARS before I would share my experience with my extended family.
It took a couple of years before I finally stopped blaming myself for what happened to me. (I mastered feeling "guilt ridden" countless times in my life). In due time I was able to get past my condemnation. My self-esteem began to skyrocket to a healthy level.
Now if I see a man who stands about 6'2", has the waviest-curliest-jet-black hair, deepest dimples, hazeliest-green eyes, physique to die for, is immaculately dressed, AND smells good, sure I'm reminded of Q. For a microsecond.
Today I know that I was never the one damaged. Deplorably I cannot say the same for Q.
(C) 2005 by C.V. Harris. All rights reserved.
C.V. Harris pens with ease about the topics most would rather forget. She is a writer living in New Jersey who's passion for expressing the sentiments of love, grief and triumph can be both entertaining as well as motivating. Ms. Harris is currently working on her Memoir. Visit her Blog at http://www.onewriterwriting.blogspot.com, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration by Kevin Van Aelst for The Chronicle Review - Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)
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