In Honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month
I met him at the tender age of 20. I suppose you can say that I was young, naïve, inexperienced and undiscerning at the time, but he overwhelmed me with his charm. He was every young woman’s dream. Attentive, romantic, loving and handsome. He was a real lady’s man and I fell head over heels for him in a relatively short period of time. He showered me with so much love. He was protective and everything I thought I needed in a man at the time. Our love was strong. It was passionate and I was hooked on him.
Over time, I didn’t care that he called me every hour on the hour at my job or checked to ensure that I made it home at the time he assumed I should be on a daily basis. To me, it was evidence of how much he loved me. I didn’t see it THEN as a red flag. To me, it was love.
Eventually, we made the decision to move in together and it was at that point that our love turned into my greatest nightmare. The very first time I experienced his “other side” I was completely and utterly in shock. I had gone to hang out with friends. Quite naturally, I made the decision to ensure that I was home at a decent hour in an attempt to respect him and my relationship. When I arrived home and walked through the door, he was nowhere to be found. Oddly, not even 2 minutes after I arrived he walked through the door with the look of anger on his face. I didn’t realize at the time he has been waiting and watching the house in the darkness of the night for me to get home.
He questioned my whereabouts, who I was with and what I did for the evening. With every question, he displayed progressive frustration. Though I had come home at what I thought was a decent hour, he fumed over the fact that I had been hanging out with my “hoeish friends”. I didn’t want to argue, but he followed me to my room and demanded that I answer his questions. His questioning and frustration rapidly turned into a heated argument. With every word that he spewed at me with venom, his breathing intensified and I could see the veins in his neck begin to bulge. He begin to sweat profusely and it was as if he had morphed into a whole other person. He called me several derogatory names to which I verbally defended myself. However, my attempts made his temperature rise even more and before I knew it be grabbed me by the neck and threw me with all the force he could muster onto the bed. I fought back, screamed, kicked and hollered but I was really no match for his strength. I was defeated. I was frustrated. I was confused. I was hurt. But instead of him apologizing while I was in a state of shock, he decided that he wanted to have sex to make up for what just occurred.
I wish I could say that was the last time I experienced abuse by this man. But that was only the beginning. Over the next few years, the cycle of mental, physical and sexual abuse continued. I withdrew from friends, family and lived in a constant state of fear. We’d argue. He’d put his hands on me. I’d cry. He’d apologize. Buy me a gift or try to soothe it over with sex. I’d accept his apology. We would be good for a few weeks and then the cycle would start all over again. But I loved him and for me, this was just the way love went. Couples argue, fight, make up and continue to love each other despite it all.
My life had now turned into constantly walking on eggshells. I tried at all cost to keep him calm. But most times my effort were in vain. He found a reason or no reason at all to start an argument. One evening, after we had spent a night out together with his family I experienced the worst of all the arguments we ever had. Earlier that day, he found some old letters that I kept from high school. One letter was written to my then boyfriend when I was in the 9th grade. I can’t even remember what the letter entailed, but its content enraged him to the point that as we were laying in the bed he got on top of me and began to beat me in the head with his closed fist. He then proceeded to choke me with what seemed like a death grip. I screamed, squirmed and tried my best to fight back but again, I was no match for his intense anger. I thought for sure, that I was at the end of my life as I could feel myself losing consciousness. The room was dark and I remember vividly looking into his eyes and seeing a demonic being. I felt my body release fluids, and I laid there, in my own urine struggling to breathe while his grip tightened around my neck as his anger grew. I thought surely this was the end for me. He choked me for only a manner of seconds but it felt like hours. I’m not sure how I was able to do so, but at some point I caught a moment of wind and was able to scream out, “Jesus!” and just like that he released me, got up, fell down and passed out for hours on the floor.
Even after that night, it still wasn’t simply easy to walk away. Like most women in my situation, I had to devise a plan of escape. If I didn’t, I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would die. I was horrified and he always made sure to tell me that he would kill me. Eventually, however I did escape, physically anyway. But to escape mentally was much harder for me. I waited until he was gone to work one day and moved all my belongings out to a new apartment where he could not find me. However the harassing phone calls at work and stalking behavior only increased as I tried to regain my emotional strength and independence. I failed more than a few times. I tossed and toiled with going back to him, but deep in my heart I knew that he would not change. My love for him, despite him nearly killing me could not change him. Only God was capable of that.
After about a year and a half or so of popping up on my job and trying at all cost to get me back, he eventually and slowly faded into oblivion. He turned his attention and abusive behavior to one of the many other women he had been cheating with. He began to lose control and power with me, and therefore I was no longer worth the hassle. It took me some time to heal completely from my experiences with this man. In a matter of a few short years I had experienced sexual, mental, emotional and physical abuse by the man who claimed to love me. My self-esteem and self-worth was damaged. But God. God slowly restored everything that relationship stole from me and created in me a passion to help other young women in similar situations. It took self-reflection, healing and the love of God to help me realize that #LoveShouldNotHurt. I only hope that my testimony will help others to know and be ensured of the same.
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About the Author of Love Should Not Hurt
As a survivor of domestic violence and an eyewitness to abuse within her own family, Nemia Cooper has a personal passion for empowering victims of abuse and educating the public about the signs of abuse, the impact of abuse on the family, and ways to break the cycle of violence. In 2006, she began Woman at the Well Ministry, as an avenue to minister to the spiritual needs of the total woman- mind, body and spirit. Nemia began a domestic violence support group to bring healing, restoration, and resources to women involved in domestic violence situations. Over time, Woman at the Well has expanded into a ministry designed to not only empower women who have been subject to abuse, but also an opportunity to minister to the total needs of women, mind, body and spirit. Her work has included community involvement and volunteerism with the Julian Center and Coburn Place shelters located in Indianapolis, In. Nemia is gifted with the ability to teach God’s word with a practical and sound approach. She does so by sharing her testimony so that other women might be encouraged, empowered, educated, equipped, inspired and victorious.