In my line of work, I get a ton of desperate calls from people who have broken dishwashers or, gasp, ice makers in their pool houses that have stopped working and there is a lot of huffing and puffing because now they have to use the OTHER ice maker in their MAIN house and can you even imagine suffering such an indignity? Surely, you cannot. [puts hand over eyes and faints]
But I have never, until today, received a desperate phone call for a very simple, very minor, cosmetic issue from someone who wasn’t selling a house. (People selling houses are ABSOLUTELY BATSHIT INSANE over minor appliance issues.) The woman had left a voicemail describing a minor cosmetic issue, but requesting a full-on, major, expensive repair. She sounded kind of desperate, but I’ve had people get angry with me that we would have to wait a few days to repair their pool house ice makers, so I didn’t think much of it. Within 20 minutes, while I was on the phone with other customers, she called back twice. I was definitely annoyed at this point because her appliance was FINE, just had a SMALL DENT GIMME A MINUTE LADY.
I eventually called her back, fully expecting to have my eyes get stuck at the top of my head from rolling them so hard. Within 10 seconds, they definitely started to creep up. But then I realized that this was not a crazy rich lady with a pool house ice maker or a 3rd dishwasher she needed fixed RIGHT NOW. This was a woman in an abusive relationship.
This woman had obviously been crying prior to our conversation, and she kept thanking me for calling her back. She repeated many times that it was her fault, that her husband was so angry at the damage she “caused.” His family was coming soon and this “mess” needed to be cleaned up before then. She cried some more. She said her entire relationship was, at that point, resting on a dent in a fridge door. Let that sink in. The ENTIRETY of their relationship was resting on a dent that she somehow (???) caused. Her tone and her words sent about one thousand red flags popping all over the damn place.
My boss, after I explained the situation to him and he spoke to this woman himself, went above and beyond to help her get this fixed. Strings were pulled, shipping was expedited, fees were waived. She’s very grateful that we have been able to stave off the current shitstorm of her husband’s unbridled rage.
We can help put out this fire and I’m happy we can help. But I am only making assumptions based on my own personal experiences, and what my gut is telling me. What else can we do? A big part of me wants to call her and tell her all about the physical and emotional abuses I’ve endured and survived in prior relationships. I want to tell her that a man who explodes over tiny issues like dents in appliances will eventually make a dent in you, if he hasn’t already. A man who gaslights you, and tells you that if you just hadn’t made him mad, none of these incidents would be happening is not a person you need to be with. If he insults you, degrades you, makes you feel like shit about yourself, doesn’t support you, isolates you, doesn’t let you work because then you can’t be financially independent, GET THE FUCK OUT GIRL.
He can try his damndest to beat you down and break you but you can RISE ABOVE, GIRL. You can FUCKING LEAVE. You think you have no money, you think you have no friends, you think you have no resources because he wants you to think that he fucking took them from you BUT HE DID NOT. You can talk to your friends. You can talk to your family. You can tell them what’s happening. Let them know. Let them help you. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU FUCKING KNOW.
If I wish I knew anything when I dated men who tried to murder me with their bare hands, who lied to me, who fucked other people, who would throw a hissy fit about dinner, who made me feel like the tiniest speck of dirt on the ground worth nothing more than a place for him to step, I wish I knew that I could tell people. And that they would help. And, most importantly, that I was worth helping. It isn’t embarrassing, it’s literally saving your goddamn life.
My life now is so far removed from that cold fear that plagued me every goddamn day. Or that feeling of worthlessness that was an angry, churning ocean storm in my guts. Or when those feelings became just a normal part of my every day because that’s how goddamn low I was. But, eventually, I got lucky. I had the wherewithal and support to leave every shit person I was with. I’ve found a warm, happy life with my son and my boyfriend – a man who loves, respects, and supports me. He snores, sometimes, sure. But that’s it. He never makes me feel like shit. He doesn’t degrade me or play games with my brain or lie or lay a goddamn hand on me, which are all things that you should just expect from a partner. They’re not extra because they don’t treat you like a piece of trash.
This wasn’t an overnight change. I had to feel like I was worth a shit to myself before anything. And whenever the guilt crept in, that nagging, loud, crushing guilt that yelled HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN, I yelled back at myself that I STOPPED IT. I dug around inside and pulled and cried and backtracked and then I just fucking did the thing. No one else did it for me. No knight in shining armor came and fucking saved me because that shit is FAKE. You and you alone are the only person who can make the final call, but let me tell you that YOU ARE WORTH IT AND YOU CAN DO IT.
You can stop it. You can leave. He wants you to think that you can’t. But you can. And you should. You’re worth more than you can ever know. You’re worth more than some sack of shit blowing up over a dent in an appliance. You can do this. You have help.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233