He had never touched her in anger, but his words were like fists. Daily, hourly, minutely, he pummeled her with threats, reminded her that he held the key to her happiness and her very survival.
They cut. They burn. They destroy.
Crazy. Liar. Cheat.
And the worst: I'll take your children away.
He knew the exact words to say to strike fear in her heart.
He knew the exact words to drive a wedge -- no, more like a brick wall -- between her and her family. Between her and her friends.
He knew the exact words to isolate and alienate.
She was alone. And she was the only one standing between him and her children. She knew what she had to do to save them all.
Day by day, brick by brick, she shored up her defenses, building a wall around her heart to keep his words at bay, strengthening herself to protect the little ones.
Until the day she stood up and looked him in the eye. That was the day he put his hands on her and shoved. The day she flew 15 feet through the air, through the kitchen doorway. The day the police came and escorted him from her house. She was cut and bruised, but she was free.
Today, though, she wonders how she could have lived like that. Today, she remembers how cruel he was. Today, she remembers how many nights she dreamed that he had come back from the dead -- nightmares that left her slick with sweat. Today, she remembers he really can't hurt her anymore. Today, she offers a prayer for others to find the release from their tormentors.
Today, she offers words. But only words of healing.
To give and get help