“What’s wrong? You don’t like to be choked?”, asked the men I loved.
I laid there in a mild state of panic, fear embezzling the moment as I’m taken back to the girl I was several years ago.
I remember the day his mother apologised on behalf of the family. I told her nicely to save her apology for the woman he would end up marrying. I was young, fresh out of High School and knew no better. He was my first love, came from a good family, was well educated and popular around Sydney. The first six months together were nothing less than happy and filled with adoration for one another. The following ten would shape the rest of my life and the men I brought in it.
The first time is the only time I remember in great detail, the rest of my bruises all became too frequent and a blur, the same stain on my skin only another location. We sat side by side on the cream leather couch in his parent’s living room, watching Saturday night television. Suddenly, he demanded I sit on the floor. Confused, I asked why. He told me that I wasn’t worthy of the couch and to ‘get my ass on the floor.’ I sat there and stared at the screen paralysed, what the hell was going on? A million different thoughts ran through my mind. Should I stay? Should I go? What’s he going to do next? Surely it couldn’t get any worse, he loved me after all, we were in love.
“It’s okay, you’re allowed to sit next to me again,” he said, toying with my emotional state. Obviously I wanted to be in his loving arms so I sat back on the couch.
My love then grabbed my left arm and began twisting my skin in opposite directions with his hands, giving me a Chinese burn. Every second of pain that passed, he loathed and the more I resisted and asked him to stop, the harder he twisted. When he eventually let go, my love sadistically smiled at the ‘work of art’ he’d created on my arm. Shocked and confused, I slowly began emotionally numbing myself from this moment onward.
He then raised his left hand, clenched his knuckles and punched me on the left side of my chest. It was hard enough to bruise me for a week and then fade into my long term memory.
“What? Are you just going to hit me from now on?” I asked as I massaged my left breast with my right hand, suppressing tears from leaving my eyes. By now I was in a severe state of shock. Why was he doing this to me? Moments before I was this strong girl with big ambitions of conquering the world but instantaneously I couldn’t even see tomorrow.
“Yeah, why not?” he replied, sniggering to himself. His apathy tore my heart, “Didn’t I tell you to sit on the floor?” We were back here now.
I gave in to the devil and carefully slid myself slowly on the floor and sat beside his feet feeling isolated, lonely and fell into deeper confusion. Feeling the heat from his eyes looking down on me as I stared straight ahead, I felt his smile, his wicked sense of accomplishment. I’d never seen him so proud of himself. The energy of his pride sunk deep into my emotional system morphing into fear. On the inside, I was trembling. I knew I had to leave him but I loved him too much. I remembered the happier days before all this. This had to be a one-off incident, there was no way he could hurt me like that again, he loved me too, you know?
“Adriana…” I turned to the left and looked him straight in the eyes, “Do you still love me?” he asked. I told him that I did because that was the truth, he just responded with ‘good.’ That night, I felt a piece of me die. I was so ashamed, I’d become one of those girls.
We broke up and got back together just as quick. With my social circle dropping off like flies, within months he ostracised me from everything I’d ever known. He made sure that when it came to the battlefield, it was a one on one he was in evidently going to win. I felt alone. My parents weren’t aware of the extent of the abuse because I did everything to protect him and our relationship but they suspected something was going on. I was very off with my behaviour.
When we were out he told me when to speak, what to wear and dare I do not appear more superior or funnier than my other half. My true self and personality were not allowed to shine, I was a mute woman dressed in jeans and a collared shirt often covered in a few layers to hide any evidence.
There was no way in the world I was allowed to even give out a clue to our mutual group of friends that our “perfect” relationship was indeed “imperfect” behind closed doors and that there was a reason as to why I was wearing wool cardigans in the blazing Australian summer. He told me that even if I opened my mouth, no one would believe me anyway because he had a clean slate in society, I, on the other hand, was a known whore.
Within months, my skin was pale and held no life, hair brittle and I ate barely anything throughout the day. My weight dropped below 50kg and at 18 years of age, I felt invalidated as a human being.
Suffering from severe anxiety and depression, I was left with one friend who begged me to walk away. God bless her, she really didn’t give up on me. I just worshipped the ground he walked on, just like his mother, just like his sisters, just like the way his father expected him to be adored and praised. I still held onto hope that one day it will all be better. I couldn’t be more wrong.
After a misdiagnosis of appendicitis, I was told by the nurse in the emergency room to go and have a pap smear, so I did. My Gynaecologist phoned me five days later with a request to see her immediately. Like literally, that afternoon.
I arrived in her office later that evening, trying to decipher the urgency in her tone earlier on the phone.
“What do you know about cervical cancer?” she asked me.
What was I supposed to know at 18? All I assumed was that cervical cancer was something I didn’t need to worry about at my age.
She cut straight to the point. “Your results show highly reactive CIN3. Do you know what that is?”
“There’s CIN1, CIN2 and CIN3. Usually, at one, it goes away on its own. By two, we need to start watching your cells very closely..”
“What happens after three?” I ask her, fearing the c-word.
“Cancer, Adriana. Cervical Cancer.”
There it was.
“I am booking you in for the procedure next week, I’m so sorry to have to break this to you, you need immediate treatment.”
I felt my heart drop in my stomach and stay there. My body started attacking itself, piece by piece my health was deteriorating. I had the abnormal cells removed the following week and bed rest for a few days. **They came back as CIN2 six months later in one of the rarest cases my Gynaecologist had ever had in her career.**
I figured life was too short and after a few days of rest, I decided to join my best friend on a night out in the city to our favourite club, back then Dragonfly.
I was still with my love who barely did anything to salvage my close encounter with the c-word and basically told me that I deserved it. By this time in our relationship, he had a casual job bartending at a local pub in inner Sydney city but always ensured I was at home while he was at work. This particular Saturday, I didn’t want to listen, I wanted to live my life.
My best friend and I arrived at the club around 10 pm and by midnight I had a text message from my love informing me he was waiting in his car behind the club. I told my best friend that I would be right back, she pleaded for me not to go, I didn’t listen. As I walked closer towards the car, I saw the anger in his eyes, he looked me up and down, hitting his steering wheel, swearing to himself.
“Get the fuck in,” he yelled as he smashed his hand on the steering wheel, again and again. I objected for a minute but his scene was turning into a movie so I opened the door and sat in the front seat. “So you went out, huh?” His breaths were deep, heavy and psychotic. I just watched him and tried to work what I did to deserve to suffer like this. “What the fuck are you wearing? You look like a slut…oh, I forgot, you are a slut.”
I sat there and looked him straight in the eyes working out my escape plan, tonight was not going to end well if I didn’t get out now. I had to get out of this car immediately. He watched me turn to flee and in that exact moment, he locked the doors and turned the car on, “I left work because of you, I told you that you can’t go out tonight! I am going to give you a lesson tonight you will never fucken forget you fucken dumb slut…” he kept swearing under his breath in Macedonian, “Da aknis,” he kept telling me to ‘die.’
I sat patiently as he drove the car in a fury, cutting through traffic in Sydney’s Kings Cross and continuing to swear in his language. I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire, he was so unpredictable by this point in the relationship, I was unsure if he was going to kiss me or kill me.
“Wait till I’m done with you, no one’s going to want you,” he repeated over and over.
As we approached Sydney’s George Street via William Street, we were stopped in traffic. I still hadn’t said a word but my tears were never-ending, my heart was racing and my head just wanted to escape in a public place where he was too proud to chase after me. I looked at the door again and tried to unlock and open in one manoeuvre. He grabbed me by the hand, punched me in the head and punched me again. “Oh no, you are not getting away, don’t even think about it. The lesson you will learn tonight, the lesson…” he kept on repeating to himself.
I looked out my window to my left, a man in a silver Mercedes witnessed the entire incident and asked me if I was ok also outraged by his reaction. I was in so much shock, heaving, I had no strength to respond to him. I wish he got out of his car to save me.
I managed to numb my emotional state until we got to Rockdale Station, not far from his home. He parked his car, unbuckled his seat belt, leaned over and began to bash me all over my body. Punch after punch, pulling my hair and yelling abusive words I’m forcing myself not to remember. He was fuming at the fact ‘I didn’t listen to him.’ I didn’t stay home like every other Saturday, I disobeyed him.
“Give me your phone, your wallet, your money, all your cards. I’m leaving you here, you can find your own way home you dumb fucken slut. How dare you not listen to me,” He punched me again. “Who the fuck do you think you are? Some sort of Princess? Get the fuck out of the car now!!!” he screamed at me, punching my arms with all his strength. I refused to give in, it was ten degrees outside and he was a complete psychopath by this point. I just wanted to go home. I pleaded with him to stop over and over.
“Are you going to listen to me?” he asked. I said yes.
He drove me back to his house, his parents were asleep in the next room. I was told to not even breathe a sound, “I don’t want anyone to hear you.”
We made his way up the stairs and into his room. He shut the door behind me softly. I sat on the edge of his bed, the side I usually slept on, crying my eyes out. My tears wouldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried to suppress them. Everything about my life was hurting me, it was destroying me.
“What the fuck are you crying for you stupid slut? You did this to yourself, don’t fucken cry now.”
As he walked closer to me, I’d never been so terrified in my entire life. He then threw me down on my back, got on top of me and put his hands around my neck. “Don’t you dare fuck with me. I wasn’t raised to respect women,” he pulled into my throat a little tighter, I held my breath and worked up the courage to look him in the eyes. If he was going to kill me at that moment he was going to watch the life fade out of my eyes.
“Are you going to listen? Are you going to listen to me now you dumb fucken slut?” My tears made their way down my cheeks and onto his hands, I nodded with whatever strength I had, crying more than I ever have before. As he let go and kept telling me to die in Macedonian, “Da aknis, da aknis.”
“I know you’re going to tell your parents, I know you’re going to break up with me now, I want assurance that you won’t,” he said. “I want you to transfer $500.00 into my account right now.” So I did.
You may sit and read this wondering why after all this I still kept ‘coming back for more’ so to speak. Keeping in mind I was very young, highly impressionable and genuinely believed he was the love of my life, I held onto the memories of the first six months believing they would return to my reality. I knew in my heart that what I was going through was wrong but I just loved him so much despite being manipulated to such extremes to do things, in particular in the bedroom that I didn’t want to do. By this stage, my parents were aware of his abusive ways towards me and did plead with me to leave him but I just couldn’t, I always defended him.
Throughout my twenties, I’ve been asked by guys why I give good head. This is no practise makes perfect kind of story because I was taught well from the start of my sex life. In fact, I was taught how to be amazing on my knees. Making him happy in the bedroom was the only time he couldn’t physically hurt me even though the damage would stay with me psychologically. He forced me to love every aspect of sucking his cock. He taught me how to be a porn star, I taught myself how to pretend to look like I loved it.
This particular night with my love was slightly different. Suffering from a serious case of anorexia I wasn’t always in the mood. But like I said, if sex was on the cards it meant he wasn’t going to hurt me physically so I stupidly used it as the weapon to potentially bring us ‘closer’ together.
We were laying on the couch, he was behind me and had his hand wrapped around the neck, covering my mouth. His grip was firm, he knew he was going to hurt me. As he lifted my dress, I felt his fingers move my panties to the side and rubbed his cock around my vagina and then my ass. When he was confident that I was lubricated enough, he sodomised me.
How does a woman pretend to love it? She simply removes herself from her soul.
I came over one afternoon to grab my last bit of things, he was home alone. I finally worked up the courage to leave him and was ready to walk away forever. I had enough. “It’s over, I never want to see you again in my life,” he then slammed me against his bedroom wall and I laughed.
“The next time I see you will be in jail,” I say.
He didn’t take this lightly, slamming me against the wall again and chasing me out of his room as I fled for my life. He kicked his leg out as I was two steps down his staircase and cracked my vagina. I held onto the wooden rail as I buckled down the stairs and held onto my life. He watched me from the top of the staircase, “Get the fuck out dumb slut…” I took short breaths to reduce any feeling of the pain running through that region. This area of my body would eventually turn an ugly dark purple colour for two months.
I limped out of his parent’s house and into my car. I don’t know how I managed to drive in such excruciating pain but I did and to the nearest service station because I had only one thing on my mind. I hated myself, how could I even allow someone to treat me like this? How was I going to rebuild myself from this hole? My entire life and body were bruised and battered. What the hell would my parents think if they ever found out? What did I do to deserve this? I did everything for that boy.
I bought two packets of paracetamol and a bottle of water. I drove down Parramatta Road towards Merrylands, where a friend was working and popped a pill every minute and a half. A few times, I dunked two at a time.
Within forty minutes, I popped forty pills, told my friend what I had done when I arrived at her workplace and she immediately called an ambulance. I felt my body shutting down, organ by organ, breath by breath. Ironically, it was the first time in almost a year that I felt alive.
Once upon a time, I fell in love with the wrong person. He cut open every vein I have. He was the first and last male whose touch I ever felt run through my body, his touch numbed me from the age of 17.