Stories > Getting support from my co-workers.

We'd been married for a year and a half.  We were both very involved politically.  I had a new baby, I was at home.  I started feeling like my life was kind of slipping away.

But his world started to change.  He started to become much more community-involved and I was less and less community-involved.  And it led to a lot of tension in the relationship, and a lot of tension around me being at home and he being sort of out in the world.  I think the arguing and the fighting and the challenging verbally started.  And it just escalated.  And became very contentious, you know.  The relationship was very contentious.

I remember he came home one night and we just started fighting.  I picked up a glass and threw it at him and it hit him in the side of his face and that was it.  He chased me in the living room.  We have this brick fireplace in the living room.  He chased me in the house and grabbed me, threw me on the floor and just pounded my face into the brick wall.  I mean, when thinking about it now, I'm thinking, “How did I survive that?”  I felt like he was going to kill me.  I mean, I felt like this man has lost his mind, and I'm dead.  I remember that he just kicked me, pounded my face into the brick wall, into this fireplace, and… and then he left.

The first assault was one thing.  That was shocking to me.  The second one was more shocking.  Because the first one felt to me like he just lost it.  He wasn't aware of what he was doing, and he just responded so violently because he lost control of himself.  And that to me was not as shocking as the second time because I felt like the second time was very much more intentional.  So I was much more shocked that actually happened after we got back together.  I was in a lot of shock, and I was very depressed.

You know, I was depressed after this happened, for probably about three or four months.  And mostly because I felt like this was a person that I just didn't know.  I didn't see this side of him.

I couldn't go to work.  My supervisors were very supportive.  I mean my whole face was... I couldn't go to work because my face was so damaged that there was no way I could leave the house looking like I was looking.  So my co-workers were very supportive and gave me the time I needed to be off.

I don't think we called the police.  And I wasn't going to.  I mean, police to me was never an option.  I don't think I felt like they would have done anything at all.  I wasn't necessarily opposed to the police, but I just didn't feel like I knew what their role was.  So I didn't call them.  But there was plenty of other support.  And I don't think I ever felt like there was anybody who was not supportive of me.  I never heard anybody say things like, “Well, you need to leave the motherf*****” or to say, “What did you do to provoke him?”  I don't think I heard those kind of comments from anybody.  I got a lot of support and affirmation and people wanting to be helpful.

The first level of support was concern for my physical well-being.  And you know, really making sure that I felt safe.  And where I was, was I safe?  And did I feel like I needed some support to make me safe?  And I don't think there was much of a sense from my friends of any sort of like domestic violence shelters or anything like that.  I think it was, “Do you feel safe here in your house?  He's not here, he's gone, do you feel safe?  Do you feel like he'll come back?  And if he comes back do you feel safe about that?”  So I think there was a lot of concern about my safety.

There was also a lot of concern about my mental health and what that meant in terms of just taking care of myself physically.  People brought me food.  “Are you eating?”  “Do you need somebody to be here with you?"  I think the fact that I was depressed was really scary for people.  “Do you need us to be here to make sure you're eating?”  “Make sure you're not thinking about suicide or anything like that.”  There was a lot of that.  “Do you just need someone to come and cook you some dinner or lunch or whatever.”  I had people that bought groceries for me, and brought food to me, and offered to come and help clean the house.  And it wasn't at all patronising.  It was like, “You know what, we understand that right now you might not have the energy to do all of these things, so let us take care of you.”

Even to the point where—I just never will forget this.  I remember one person saying, “Do you want me to come in here and paint your walls?”  It was like, “We'll paint for you!”  I think they wanted to change the environment or create an environment where I felt comfortable.  “Is there something different we can do here in your house.”  So I remember that a couple people came and painted my living room and dining room, and I remember getting new rugs on the floor.

My friends were more concerned about my well-being and I had a little nine month old.  They were concerned about “Was I able to take care of her and did I need some support in taking care of her?”  So people were providing tangible things for me.  And then, people were just willing.  “You need to call us in the middle of the night, call me.”  I had people who were like, “Just call me.”  “You need to talk, just call me and talk.”  I felt like I was a burden, and I felt like I didn't want to impose this on my friends, but I felt like they were there.

“You want to talk ad nauseum, talk ad nauseum.”  I felt like there was listening, they were able to listen to me.