Trigger Warning * Violence * Language * Sexual Assault
I’ve been attacked by dogs three times in my life. Each time was a surprise. I never saw the jaws coming, not the first time when the Doberman darted out from the clubhouse she’d claimed as her own to have puppies; not the second time when the owner of the pit-bull said, “Go ahead and pet him, he don’t bite”; and not the final time when the Dachshund charged and tore at my toes. All came as a surprise. One moment I was going about my life, and the next I was in devastating pain. Surprise!
I never saw those attacks coming. But I should have seen the one coming at me on New Year’s Eve. Just two weeks after getting married, we went to a party at Nate’s job. All I wanted to do was stay at the apartment with him and talk about the new year, the year when we’d move into our own place and welcome our baby, when our family would grow from two to three.
“Please don’t drink,” I pleaded with him. Not only could I not drink, I also wouldn’t even if I weren’t pregnant. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the taste or the way alcohol made people act. Watching Mom when she drank was enough to put me off.
Look,” he slurred, and I realized he was way ahead of me. “I’m a grown man and I can drink whatever, whenever I want. I’m not the one who’s knocked up.”
I excused myself from our booth and ran to the bathroom. He was always so mean and ugly when he drank. I didn’t want to cry in front of him. It was pointless to cry when I already knew this. He didn’t drink too often, so I accepted it.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked when I returned.
“Nothing. I just felt sick. Are you ready to go?”
“Hell no! It’s not even midnight yet!”
“Please? I feel like I’m going to throw up,” I begged.
“Damn, baby, I can’t have any fun? Everyone, I have to go now because the little wife doesn’t want to be here.”
I shrunk into the booth as everyone stared at me. It was more than a little hard to be the only sober one in the room.
Nate stumbled to the door, dragging me behind him. “Come on, let’s go. You wanted to leave. Let’s go.”
As we walked home, he continued to berate me, and then, when I walked ahead, I looked back and noticed he wasn’t following anymore. I backtracked and found him sitting against a huge oak outside a local public defender’s office.
“Nate, come on…get up.”
“Why are you calling me Nate?” he snarled. “Oh, you stopped loving me already?”
“It’s your name,” I said. “And right now, no, I don’t feel like I love you very much. You’re being mean and you’re too drunk to realize it.”
“Come here, my little whore,” he said. “I know how you can sober me up. Come on, right here.”
I stepped back, shaking my head. Oh good, I’m a whore again.
“You’re being disgusting,” I said. “Let’s go home.”
“We don’t even have a home. Come on, baby. You want to go home, you come here like my good little whore.”
I rolled my eyes, trying to hold my ground and not cry again. “Come on,” I said, offering him my hand to help him up.
He pulled me down on top of him instead and shoved my head toward his crotch. “Make me happy. You’re my wife and a wife wants to make her husband happy, right?”
I yanked my head back and out of his grasp and slapped him.
“You bitch!” He slapped me back, and I retreated, holding my face, crying.
“I’ll meet you at the house.” With great effort, he pushed himself up, bracing himself against the tree, and walked away. I kept my distance, but followed him, afraid to be left on the dark street by myself.
When we got back to Mary’s apartment, I stayed outside for a while, waiting for him to go in and pass out. I didn’t want to talk to him again until he was sober, and then I was definitely going to tell him where he could go if he ever acted like that again.
I tiptoed through the apartment and stepped into our room, clicking the door shut as quietly as I could. I could hear Mary chattering away on the phone in her room. It was the only sound I could hear, which meant either Nate hadn’t reached deep sleep yet, or he wasn’t asleep at all.
I slipped out of my jeans and put on sweatpants, and then climbed into bed. As soon as I settled under the covers and turned away from him, disgusted by the smell of liquor coming off him, he turned and pressed himself against me.
“Hey, baby. I knew you’d come.”
“Please stop,” I said. “Go to sleep. Leave me alone. We can talk tomorrow.”
“Oh come on, baby. You know I just want you. It’s New Year’s. We have to break in 1990 the right way.” He started tugging at my clothes, trying to pull them off.
I struggled. I couldn’t give myself to him right now. This was not my husband, the man I married just a few short weeks ago. This was some alcohol-enraged stranger whom I had no desire to even be in the same room with, let alone have sex.
“Tomorrow,” I said. “I feel too sick right.”
“No, now!” he said, and ripped off my shirt. The sound of the tear seemed to echo in the otherwise empty room.
I pushed away from him, but he only held me tighter. “You’re my wife, or did you forget? When I want you, I can have you!”
He pulled off my sweatpants and I thought I should fight, that this wasn’t right. Suddenly, I was right back to the time when I had to fight off my big brother. I kicked and screamed and held onto my bathing suit bottoms with a death grip that day. I was able to fight long enough for Mom and my step-dad to come home and stop everything. But now, I couldn’t scream. I fought Nate, and I held onto my underwear, but I couldn’t scream for help. What would I scream about? He was my husband.
He was much stronger than me, and much stronger than my brother was. It was a losing battle, and as I heard the last piece of my clothing rip away, I braced myself.
“You’re mine, remember? I can have you whenever I want. Go ahead and fight me. You just make it that much more fun.”
He slammed his body against mine, hurting me, grunting, and then he finished, pushed away from me, and turned over in bed.
“Happy New Year, baby,” he said, and was snoring within minutes.
I cried silently, swallowing my sobs, wiping away my tears with the back of my hand.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered to my belly, to my unborn baby, and then I let myself sink into welcomed sleep.
I never fought him again. Giving in was much easier and faster. It set the tone for a future I didn’t want but also one I couldn’t quite see yet. Nate was two people: a gentle man who took care of me, and a violent one who took what he wanted from me.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!