At the start of 2020, I was engaged to a petite woman. We’d been together for three years and had a puppy together.
She was also abusive. When the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced lockdowns, I begged her to stop drinking, hoping it would calm the storm inside of her.
It worked for a couple of weeks.
Trigger warning: Descriptions of abuse below
Then one afternoon I found myself sitting on the couch, holding our dog while he licked my tears and blood ran down my neck and arms from where her nails had cut me. I remember the moment vividly, the purpling bruises on my arms and shoulders from her furious attempts to get at my face, the hair she’d torn from my scalp, the…
Honestly, it’s hard to write this. It’s hard to think of that memory and I want so badly to do justice to the experience. Yet sometimes, the urgency of the moment requires you to speak up rather than wait.
COVID-19 has created one of those moments. When lockdowns began, I was one of the people who experienced increased violence because of forced proximity to my abuser and an inability to escape the situation. For me, it finally gave me the perspective I needed to leave, but many others have not been so lucky.
I have some minor scars and some deeper mental trauma that I am working through. Yet I’m out. I’m safe. I haven’t spoken to her for months. I’m blessed to have had close friends and family that she hadn’t yet driven away who I could turn to for help.
This isn’t true for many others. Intimate partner violence (IPV/domestic violence) statistics are surging across the world during the pandemic, and even in areas where statistics are down, there are signs that reports are only down due to an inability to access resources. There are widespread reports of the level of violence increasing. The UN is calling the rise in IPV a ‘shadow pandemic’.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides essential tools and…
When I got away, it wasn’t the first time I tried to leave. To get out, I had to make the decision to let her keep our puppy because trying to hold onto him simply gave her another hold on me. I miss Peanut. He was a good dog. I’m lucky we didn’t have a child, or many assets together — yet it still took me almost a year from the first time she hit me to leave and not come back.
- More than half (54%) of trans and non-binary people experience IPV
- Over 43 million women and 38 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
This is a horrifying rate — but hopefully, it drives home one fact: if you’re experiencing IPV, you’re not alone. If you’re struggling, if COVID has forced you to spend more time with your abuser, if you’re afraid of spending the holidays alone with them, I’m here to talk or reach out to the national domestic violence hotline.
It can happen to anyone, and it’s not your fault. I’m a large, strong human, and I’ve been physically, emotionally, and mentally abused. Men don’t talk about it, but it’s important that we all talk about IPV. You’re also not weak if you see a therapist — you’re adding someone to your team. I saw a therapist weekly for 7 months. You don’t need to tough it out on your own.
The good news? Now that I’m away from my abuser, life is getting better, even in a pandemic. I haven’t felt this creative in years. I’m writing more. I’m safer. I'm happier.
You deserve to feel the same.
Oliver Thorn made a great video about abuse and I recognize so much of my experience in his. I highly recommend it to everyone.