I want to talk to you about domestic violence: it has touched my life in more ways than I care to admit. First, as a child, then as an adult and now as a friend of a woman who is clinging to hope as her man stands in court, pleading not guilty to a crime he is very guilty of committing.
As a small child and teenager, I had to accept the fact that my mother was an emotional abuser. Her words hit me like acid, and 34 years later I am still healing those wounds. I remember the first time I told my father I loved him. I never understood why, at the age of 21, my father had never once uttered the words, “I love you.” I had a straight and loving communication with him, but my siblings were frankly frightened by the man. He grew up in a British home, where affection and feelings were meant strictly for the hippies and poets of the world. Please don’t misunderstand me; I knew he loved me, I just needed to hear it.
I approached him with caution, and popped the question. “Daddy, why don’t you tell me you love me? I love you with my whole heart.” He answered my query by gently putting his hands on my shoulders and whispering, “I love you very much, I suppose I never expressed it verbally because such things just didn’t happen in my childhood.”
“I see the fucking whore got to you,” my mother spat from the screen porch door.
And so it went, the duration of my teens were spent in therapy and desperately wanting my mother to love me like I needed to be loved. I have forgiven her everything; in hopes that she will forgive my inability to understand the gravity of her illness before her death. It has been a healing journey for me, and it made me the person you see here today.
While attending Villanova University, I met a man named Joey Love. His first pass at me was so romantic, I didn’t feel I had a choice but to see where it led. While out with friends at a local Bennigan’s, he passed me a note; it said I want to dance with you on the Michelou. The Michelou was a restaurant inside a ship down by the river in Philadelphia. We did indeed dance there, the very next day.
One thing led to another, and before I knew it, we were living and working together at Houlihan’s. Joey was very popular, and strikingly handsome. He had charm, looks and wit-and my God could that man dance. We were a popular couple and I thought it was love.
One evening, after being intimate, I was laying on a blanket in our bedroom. Joey was standing by the dresser, and he asked me to get his cigarettes.
“Get your own cigarettes,” I joked, feeling especially content in the afterglow.
There was no way I could have been prepared for what happened next. Joey picked me up, from the floor, and threw me so hard against the bedroom wall that I could feel my brain floating around in my head. Despite my pleas, he did it again-then kicked and punched me until he was finally finished. I somehow managed to find my car keys and drive to my girlfriend’s house: it was 2 a.m. and I knocked on her door as if a demon was chasing me. When she finally answered, I fell into her arms. Horrified, she took me to the bathroom and gently washed away the blood and tears. She wanted me to go to the Emergency Room, but I was in shock and would have none of it. “I don’t want him to get in trouble,” I stammered.
The most frightening part of my ordeal was the reactions of my brother and friends. Joey was never held accountable for his actions, as I never reported them. However, I did, in fact, tell my family and closest friends. Sadly, no one, even my own brother, believed he was capable of what I accused him of. Feeling I was somehow responsible for his actions, I went back to him a week later. It was no surprise then, when he stole my Chevette and beat it within an inch of its’ life; Lucy was my first car, and I had worked very hard to make the payments. To this day, I cannot understand why I placed more importance on an automobile than my own personal safety. But that was the icing on the cupcake of our relationship, I left him and never looked back.
So perhaps you will understand why I want my friend’s partner to be held accountable for his actions. He pushed her against a wall, so hard that she split the back of her head open. She begged him to take her to the hospital, but he decided to get in bed and tell her she would be fine.
I wish I could be a fly on the ceiling of the courtroom. I wish I could see the judge tell him that he will face a trial by a jury of his peers. Maybe then I would hear the words I have longed to hear since forever: GUILTY AS CHARGED.