When did I become your favourite punching bag?

Published: September 21, 2017

I’m tired of you stripping every part of me you can, to the point where I’m crippled and calling it love. PHOTO: DUALDFLIPFLOP/FLICKR

Have you ever hoped for silence? Have you waited for minutes, hours and even days for the absence of words, conversation and noise? I find myself here more often than I should.

Sitting at my bedside questioning my life and sanity, wondering what path I took that brought me here. A path I question but very well know; the curves and bumps on each and every step. This isn’t a new occurrence, it happens often and every time I tell myself I will soon escape this moment of craving pure silence.

I feel like a caged bird, clipped off of her wings and fragile but no caretaker to bring me back to life. When did I start feeling so lifeless? I’m here talking, occasionally laughing, socialising but nights like these remind me how dead I am inside. With each day, my insides are rotting away regardless of how sunny things are on the surface. I continue sitting here soaking in tears, with things all over the place in a mess as big as myself.

I don’t really remember where it all started. Maybe it was when we were arguing that one cold November night. My memory plays games with me; at times I can feel the winds, hear the hollowness of that winter but other times, it’s as if someone put snow over my memory like a blanket. That night you got so upset, you slammed your own fist down on our dining table. I had never seen rage like that from you. How did you manage to conceal it all those years of us dating? I felt like it was my fault and I’d pushed you too far to get like this.

Then a couple of days after that, my leg became a replacement for the dining table. It left a bruise the size of a golf ball. You didn’t apologise, because it ended with me saying sorry and you promising it would never happen again.

“It’s not me. I don’t know what came over me.”

I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard that playing in my head like a broken record, even when your cold hands aren’t wrapped around my neck, stealing every gasp of air I can find. I don’t know if you did it on purpose, but your ‘love wounds’, as you would put it, were always in places I could hide. I couldn’t tell my friends or family because they wouldn’t forgive you and you truly loved me, right? Your love was all I knew at a tender age of 18. There was nothing else I could compare it to, so the many fights resulted in blaming you and I until it got worse. The only question that ran through my head every second of the day was, when did I become your favourite punching bag?

Do you recall the night you hovered over me, pressing your hands and your thumbs down on my arms as placeholders as you shouted at me for a few minutes? I don’t even remember what it was for, because a part of me blurs out all our violent dances. The one where you lead and I follow involuntarily. You’re not always like this, I told myself. You take care of me, we go out for dinner, watch movies and it’s not hard to fall back in love with you again. There are nights where I don’t know what to do or feel as I break down in sobs and you apologise and bring your arms around me – this time for comfort.

I can’t tell you why or how I feel safe with you. I always said it would never happen to me but those moments didn’t last too long. It took one mistake, one late meal, one morning sleeping in too long before my face became home to your fist again. Those weren’t common because they were harder to hide and falling down the stairs became a classic tale in my book.  I had read too many books, watched too many movies and even wrote too many research papers on these types of situations. Despite all my convictions and determinations, I was still dragged by the hair across the room.

It sounds dumb, but I don’t even want to go to my loved ones and reveal the monster behind your sweet smile. What would they think? I chose you. I fought and pushed and pulled with everyone’s doubt just to be with you. What did I know? I was only 18. So many thoughts that shouldn’t go through my head did anyway. What would happen to you? What will people say? Will I ever be able to be normal with anyone again? Sometimes I look at your hands that hold my face lovingly and all I can think is that those same hands are usually on my neck taking me to a dark place between life and death.

My wakeup call was the last time you pushed my neck against the furniture, as I begged you to stop but my cries fell on deaf ears. All I could think was that I was going to die here, as you hovered over me making me feel as small as you say I am. I realised then that you do not love me. You were my prison, my drug, but I wanted to become sober. I tried to understand you, I truly did, but you lost respect for me the minute I let you get away with slapping me cold across my face. You ignored the standards set for how to treat a woman because I wasn’t that anymore; I was your punching bag. You weren’t afraid to lose me because you knew I’d always be here for you to crawl back to.

I’m tired of you stripping every part of me you can, to the point where I’m crippled and calling it love. This is not love, and love does not do this to a person. Love does not drag you by the hair across the room one day and use those same hands to hold you the next. In the depths of your hell, I found my strength, my voice and my freedom.

This isn’t my story. Instead, it’s every woman’s story pieced together to make sure their voices are heard.

In South Asian communities, domestic violence is almost seen as a small fight, a small mistake that women are expected to get over. Women are given the advice to let their abusers have another chance to treat them right, just so you can become a victim over and over again. It’s heart-breaking to see women who don’t have the choice to leave because their family is more concerned with ‘what people will say’ than the well-being of their child, sister or cousin.

Sometime around mid-April this year, an ad went viral in Bangladesh that quickly captured hearts worldwide. Titled ‘Hair, the pride of a woman’, the ad took a close look at the mental impact of a domestic abuse victim.

Whether it’s the men or women of the South Asian community who choose to ignore the reality that nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, or whether it’s the refusal to talk about domestic abuse, it needs to stop.

This post originally appeared on BrownGirlMagazine.com

Momotaz Rahman

Momotaz Rahman

Momotaz Rahman is a proud Texan Bengali. While the sun is out she is a marketing coordinator with a love for fashion, food, yoga, books, traveling, art, and Dragon Ball Z. When she’s not talking about event planning, branding, and leveraging company growth, she’s busy blogging. Her topics will vary – social events, fashion, cultural topics, etc.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Good topic and one that could be debated on …. but your ending sentence with the statistic of physical abuse in America thrown in, was a bit confusing.Recommend

  • MJ

    Domestic abuse can be initiated by both genders. I have personal experience with a woman who was extremely abusive, both with her tongue as well as with her hands. She used to beat her husband black and blue, scratched him all over with her nails drawing blood as well as leave deep bite marks on his body I have seen her whipping him with an electrical cord and use language that would embarrass a drunken sailor. The man though much bigger and stronger physically took the abuse just for the sake of their children and he also truly loved her. The woman had a couple of personality disorders …. fist one being Bipolar and the second being Paranoid personality disorder. But she refused to see any doctor or take any medication and had full support of her family (siblings and parents) in not getting any professional help. How do I know all this? I am that husband.Recommend

  • Fahim

    A lot of man face verbal abuse and mental torture after kids. Because women come to know that she has now upper hand due to children. How do I know all this? I am that husband.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    is this real or fake or a poem? is this authors own personal experience?Recommend

  • Arsha

    Anyone who is a victim of abuse should immediately walk away from the relationship. This staying back for the kids will be more harmful as you expose them to a toxic environment on a daily basis. And Chances are they will grow up to be a part of the same story as adults, either victims or perpetrator of abuse. End the relationship – for yourself and for the sake of your kids.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    everyone knows how intolerant and egoistic pakistani men are. the sight of a woman even looking at her man straight in the eye just drives u backward thinking pakistani men insane.

    honor killings and acid attacks are inventions of pakistani men, not women.

    so no, i wont have pity on youRecommend

  • MJ

    I am sorry that you or women close to you were mistreated by men. That does not mean that you can paint all men with the same brush. I am not asking for any pity or sympathy, just letting people know both sides of a coin.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    i dont care! pakistani men are pakistani men.

    u can take the pakistani men out of barbarianism but u cannot take out barbarianism out of pakistani men.

    i think u r just trolling here in order to make pakistani women look bad.Recommend

  • MJ

    When did I say that my wife is from Pakistan? You seem to have anger issues and have a grudge against Pakistan men in particular and maybe all men in general. Again I feel sorry for how you or women close to you were mistreated by men for you to have so much anger and resentment.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    great, so now she was a white woman? that what u paki men deserve. get used and abused by foreigner women for mistreating your women at home.

    karma is real.Recommend

  • MJ

    Talk about abuse… you are very abusive in your comments. I have real sympathy for whoever your poor husband is going to be. Labeling yourself as a “Liberal” from Lahore doesn’t give you the right to be rude and abusive to all, that is sadly what you think that liberalism means.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    im not perfect and i never said i am here spreading gospel about liberalism.
    I am here to call out pakistani men on their ego, on their patriarchal mindset, on their backward thinking, on their barbaric practices of wife beating and honor killings.

    Am I doing something wrong by trying to stand up for justice?Recommend