I just wanted to crawl into my bed, in my tiny cold room, at 7am and fall asleep and wake up and realize that it never happened. Realize that it was some sick, twisted nightmare my subconscious had concocted to ward me away from my impending danger, my own fatal ignorance. There was no possible way that it could have been true. That kind of thing didn’t happen to people like me. I’m young, and educated (moreso than the average American, anyway). I don’t reside in a trailer park, in Kentucky somewhere. I’m not on welfare (yet). The numbers just didn’t add up. And they had to add up for this to be anything other than some cold nightmare. But I knew I would awaken, sometime in the late afternoon on this terrible Saturday, and find the shiny gold sheriff’s badge stickers left behind by the cops, as a sort of empathetic parting gift I suppose. I knew I would find my eyes puffy and my cheeks streaked black from crying. And most saddening of all, I knew I would find the little tender swell on the side of my temple, still throbbing with pain, complaining of abuse the night before. The physical pain was annoying, the emotional immeasurable. The screaming that carried on after he had struck me frightened me more than the actual hit. I just remember screaming, at the top of my lungs, for several minutes straight. The streetlights all blurred into one beautifully tragic mosaic and I sat screaming, hands tight on the steering wheel, foot smashed hard on the gas. I needed to get him away from me, and the car offered that little bit of control. I drove him all the way to his car, because that was the polite thing to do of course, and only after he had turned the corner in his car and left my sight did I realize how badly I was shaking. I could barely keep my foot on the brake, and my left hand began to go numb. I started to feel sorry for myself and considered how pathetic a girl I must be to put myself in situations such as this. and then the crying began. And it wouldn’t stop. And I knew it wouldn’t stop for awhile, a long time. Would it ever stop, I wondered. After all of the therapy I had undergone, how far would this set me back. As much as I knew I should hate him, I felt pity most of all. I wondered if the cops had found their way to his place yet. I wondered if his wrists had found their way into cuffs. I felt bad for probably having disturbed his parents’ sleep with this nonsense. I felt bad for ruining their image of him, for bringing undeserving chaos into their lives. I felt bad for keeping my amazing friends and sisters awake all night to “be there for me.” Most of all I felt bad for myself, for feeling bad for all of these things, all of these things that should be insignificant compared to the emotional trauma I would have to deal with. It made me angry to realize how neglectful I had been to myself and my feelings. After being “battered” by an ex-boyfriend, I was still more concerned over my best friend’s hurt feelings over a comment this ex-boyfriend made earlier in the night, or with all of my friends’ disturbed sleep. I still wanted to make sure that everyone else was okay, that they were entertained by cracking a joke, or that they were not too tired to drive home. I felt tense waiting for the cops to file the report because I was worried they would all grow impatient with me. I looked to my big sis and realized that she would never apologize for keeping people up late after something this drastic happened to her and it made me envy her assertiveness. Maybe my unassertiveness was what got me into this mess to begin with. Maybe it was my spontaneous, unexpected assertiveness. I wasn’t sure what the cause was, but I had an uneasy feeling that it had something to do with me. It had to be my fault. If I had refused his invitation to go out from the beginning this wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t invited my best guy friend, this wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t chosen to ride in the car alone with him, this wouldn’t have happened. If I would have used better judgment, and more assertiveness, and less ignorance, and better planning, and less lying, none of this would have ever happened.