Prom weekend… every students’ dream (and focus) from the moment they walk through the door as a freshman. I was excited to escape the real world. I planned to hang with crowds I didn’t usually associate myself with. I wanted to show my face more and catch some rays. It was officially my turn to spread my wings and fly. I had never felt so prepared to make bad choices and meet new people. Off I went into a weekend full of music, alcohol, tanning, and whatever else would be thrown my way.
Hours of driving turned into a daze. I was so ready to dive under the covers and drown myself in my own dreams until the next morning. I tried to enjoy the sound of the wind pushing against the car at the rate of speed we went, but all I could do was focus on the lecture going through one ear and out of the other. There were certain things he felt that needed to be said… rules to be understood. But this was nothing new for me, I was used to his checklists. It didn’t come as a surprise that he wanted me attached to his hip at all times. There was still room for me to have fun, wasn’t there? Little to none. I had a set of eyes on me when he went to the bathroom or needed to fill his drink. That’s just the way it was.
I was just warming up to being around the popular kids of our school. I bumped my head to the music and tried so hard to ignore the fact that my partner was completely wasted. It had only been an hour or so since we showed up, and I already felt like dying of embarrassment. He had no control over his mind, body, or words. There I sat with my face buried in my palms, hoping the weekend would fly by so I could return home. My phone vibrated in my pocket and I felt a sense of release. Finally, a reason to look away from the car wreck piling up right in front of me. Before I could even read the message my phone was ripped away from my hands. He suspected a guy was trying to get in touch with me. The name he read aloud was a long time friend, a female friend, who I had planned to meet with on the boardwalk. But he came up with a persona of his own, and it all went down hill from there.
This “man” that wanted to see me had caused such a rage within his body. I saw it in his eyes. He wasn’t drunk anymore, he was angry. We proceeded to argue in front of a house full of unoccupied teenagers. They surrounded us as if we were on an episode of Jerry Springer. When I felt too uncomfortable with how close he was getting to my face, I pushed him back with as much force as I had available. His reaction time startled me considering how much liquor he had in his system. But before I even realized what was about to happen, his fingers wrapped around my neck and squeezed until I couldn’t breath. Everything became a blur when people started jumping in to stop things from escalating. I was so full of emotion that I couldn’t bare to keep them hidden. I met a new person that day, in both him and myself. It was quite obvious that after this event, things would never be the same.
The scene that unfolded before me was terrifying. The only thing I could think about was how almost every senior just witnessed the truth of our relationship. It was the first time he built up the courage to put his hands on me, and it was a long time coming. I was ashamed of myself for letting it escalate to that point. All I could do was wish to snap my fingers and I’d show up somewhere far away. But I was now the center of attention which lasted for weeks, months, and years to come.
How was I going to get past this? How long would I hear my name surfing through the school crowd? There was no going up from here. I officially became “the girl in the abusive relationship.”