Let’s get personal for a moment. If you’ve read the blurb for A Sniper’s Devotion, you know that the book has a warning for scenes of domestic violence. I haven’t talked about this in years, but I’d like to share my own brief brush with domestic violence.
In my early twenties I dated a guy – let’s call him Bruce. He was a friend and co-worker at the restaurant where I worked, and he ended up being my rebound guy. He was great as a friend. Not so much as a boyfriend. I realized pretty early on that the relationship wasn’t going to be THE ONE.
There were a few things that made my Spidey senses tingle: he bragged about how many women he’d slept with, which was a lot. High double digits a lot. He lied about his age. He was actually about ten years older than he’d been telling people. When sharing stories of his past, he called women who he felt had done him wrong bitches, and said how badly he wanted to hit them.
When I got a shiny new car as a graduation gift to myself, he always wanted to drive it. I let him a few times because I wanted to show off how cool it was, but then he started demanding to drive it. One day when I refused, he got mad and wouldn’t accept me saying no. Like, he literally sat in the driver’s seat of my car angrily pouting and wouldn’t get out.
Taken together, I should have seen that there were serious issues there. But he’d been my friend for over a year by that point and all couples have problems right? So I didn’t see it as that big of a deal. But then the relationship started to get really rocky.
I’d broken up with him once already, mostly because I knew that I wasn’t feeling anything permanent between us. But he played the sad, hurt card and I got back together with him out of guilt. (Never stay with someone out of guilt) I now know he was manipulating me.
But since things were so rocky, I started paying more attention to the warning signs he was giving off. A new one that went up was his behavior with a female co-worker. And here’s where I made my biggest mistake. Instead of breaking up with him, I got jealous. I mentioned as a “joke” to him a couple of times that he had a thing for her.
One day I caught him in a lie about the female co-worker. When I mentioned it and he didn’t say anything I walked away. It was the end of a long weekend shift and I was ready to go home. I went to the employee restroom before heading out. Unfortunately, the night wasn’t over for me. He followed me into the women’s restroom, slamming the door open and almost hitting me with it. He got up in my personal space, yelling and cursing.
I tried to leave. He wouldn’t let me. I’m just under five six and at the time I was about one hundred thirty-five pounds. He was a former defensive back. Six foot something and well over two hundred pounds. He stood in the doorway continuing to yell and wouldn’t move when I asked him several times so I could leave.
I was trapped in a small bathroom with nowhere to go. No one came to help me. Scared and furious, I spit on him and he finally got out of the way. Was that the wrong move? Absolutely, but I wasn’t sure how else to get him out of the way.
I tried again to walk away. I only made it as far as two steps into the restaurant proper before he attacked me. He grabbed my arm, slinging me around. I was wearing a winter coat so I got away from him only because my arm slid out of the sleeve. By the time he was finished yanking me back and forth, the coat was ripped in half and there were goose down feathers all over the smoking section. Again, no one did anything to help. Once I got loose I ran to the lobby and called the police.
The good thing is they came pretty quickly. The bad is they weren’t terribly helpful. Didn’t seem to care and advised me not to press charges. He said Bruce was going to be arrested anyway because he had warrants. I was crying, clueless and scared so I said fine. I just wanted to be able to get to my car safely. Knowing he had to spend at least one night in the pokey was enough.
As far as I was concerned the relationship and friendship were dead. He didn’t feel the same. He called me a few times, wanting to give me back my stuff. The stuff? A couple of CDs and I think maybe a book. Inconsequential. I told him to keep it or trash it. I didn’t care which. He didn’t. He showed up at my other job – I was a study seminar teacher at a high school, and called me from the parking lot to come outside so we could talk. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.
When that didn’t work, he had his mom call me asking would I meet with him because he wanted to try and talk things out and to get his stuff back. His stuff was an apartment key and some other small item. I said no I won’t meet with him but I’ll happily mail the key back to him. I did and FINALLY that was that. I never heard from or saw Bruce again.
Once Bruce one hundred percent showed his true colors, it was easy for me to end things with him. I didn’t love him at all and I had strong support from my parents who made it clear that wasn’t acceptable behavior for a boyfriend. There was never any question that I would be going back to him. And let's be clear, I'm not saying that I never did anything wrong. It's obvious that I made several mistakes in that relationship. But I didn’t have to keep making them.
I was lucky. Many people are not. Many people succumb to the let’s talk, I’m sorry routine. Many people aren’t able to leave because there are children involved or a multitude of other reasons.
In writing Miguel’s story, I tried to convey this struggle to escape an abuser with compassion and understanding. Of course, since he’s a fictional character, Miguel’s problems were much, much bigger than mine. I didn’t have to rebuild my life after a short relationship with a guy who turned out to be a jackass. But some of my favorite parts of A Sniper’s Devotion to write were Miguel experiencing how to be on his own. I was proud of him. I hope you’ll be proud of him too.
A portion of the proceeds from A Sniper’s Devotion will be donated to the Montrose Center which helps the Houston LGBT Community, including those who are victims of Domestic Violence.
Thanks for reading!
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