After The Storm

    She married young. Twenty years old. She knew he was an asshole and she knew he was a little bit mean. What she didn't know was the storm he had inside him. When she felt it, she couldn't leave. The storm was violent. Dinner wasn't ready when he got home she felt it. In her face and on her body. Clothes weren't folded and put away as soon as the dryer rang, she felt it then too.

    She was scared, she was broken. He once believed in her. Then all he did was beat her. She made sure everything was perfect. Clean house, clean clothes. It wasn't enough. She never did anything wrong. Her eyes never looked at another man. She gave him the world and everything he ever wanted. She tried to calm his storm, she really tried.

    Two years in the storm. She was weak, she was small, she was more broken then she ever was before. She was in the eye of the storm. It was calm. Did he tire himself out today? She didn't care. She had her own storm forming inside her. She was done. She runs her finger down the handle of a knife in the dish rack. She hated him, but she didn't want to kill him. She moves her finger to a fork. This will do. It wouldn't kill him. It would hurt him, that's all she wanted to do. Dinner ready. Plate full of food in one hand and her fork in the other.

    "Dinner," Is all she says as she sets the plate down on the table. She walks back into the kitchen, shaking, thinking.
    "I need a fork over here." He says.
    "Do you?"
    "That's what I fuckin' said."

    This is it. She turns and walks to him and stops, no more than two feet away. He looks at her with an almost confused look. She lunges forward and sticks the fork into his chest. She runs toward the front door, he catches her. He throws her against the wall and puts his fist into her eye. Then again, this time in the mouth. Last the fork that was in his chest was now in hers. She brings up her knee, he stumbles back, with every ounce of strength she had left she pushes him to the floor. One kick to his face, she turns and runs out the door. She runs nearly three miles through the vineyards and through neighbors yards, just to get to her parents house. Without slowing down she hit their door, she bangs and bangs and screams out for her dad. Mom takes her into the bedroom and locks the door, her dad waits for him to show. Dad fights him and mom calls 911.

    She sits on mom and dads bed. Black eye and bloody. He's on his way to jail, she's starting to feel guilty. She chokes back her tears and takes a deep breath. For the first time in two years, she could breathe. She begins to see the sun again. She looks out the window and she manages to smile. The storm is finally over.

    Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors. Women and men can be victims of domestic violence. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. No victim is to blame for any occurrence of domestic abuse or violence. While there is no direct cause or explanation why domestic violence happens, it is caused by the abuser or perpetrator. If you or you know someone who is the victim of domestic abuse please help them get help. Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults. Without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation. Most domestic violence incidents are never reported. Help change the facts. Speak up, speak out, and make a difference for victims of domestic violence.

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