Warning Signs: A Cautionary Tale

domestic violence warning signs

{Awareness of domestic violence/abuse issues seem to only be highlighted in the mainstream media when a high profile person is involved. However, this is an ongoing problem in our society which affects men and women of ALL ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. Karmic Vintage is a fashion/lifestyle blog with a strong humanitairian/feminist bent. I wanted to share this story sent to me anonymously to give strength and hope to all women and men that have been victims of domestic violence/abuse or have witnessed it close to home and to raise awareness about this deadly phenomenon.}

By Anonymous

He put the phone down after listening to the audio, and the first
thing he asked was, “Where’s Kaya?”

“She’s at my sister’s house.”

“Okay…she’s never going back to that place. And neither are you.”

I was so emotionally and mentally exhausted, but I finally felt safe
in my thoughts. I had unexpectedly arrived at G’s house at 9pm that
Sunday to tell him everything that had happened with my then-fiancé,
and was beyond grateful that he sat and talked to me until 5 in the
morning. It was just what I had needed in the midst of what could have
been the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life so far.

When I was 20 years old, I entered a relationship that ended up being
verbally and emotionally (and once in a blue moon, physically)
abusive. I spent four years trying my hardest to fix my relationship
with a narcissist, to no avail. He had worn me down so much that I
became numb to the harsh words, the yelling, and the threats of
killing himself if I ever left him. After it was finally over, I vowed
to never get involved with anyone who had ANY inclination to being
abusive. I was positive I’d see the signs and run away. For nearly
seven years after that nightmare ended, I had succeeded. Every man I
dated after him, whether things worked or didn’t, was respectful. I
learned how to communicate clearly without yelling or losing my temper
– a bad habit I had learned from my ex-boyfriend. I was fortunate to
come across even-tempered men who, even at their most passionate,
never made me feel unsafe.

Last year, I briefly dated an acquaintance of a good friend. We only
lasted about two months, and I eventually stopped talking to him
because I felt it was going nowhere. He was icy, unemotional and
seemed checked out. I wasn’t emotionally invested, so I cut it loose
without warning. Through the months, this guy (we’ll call him D) and I
became friendly and would keep in touch. He seemed to want to maintain
a friendship, and claimed his iciness was due to pending “drama” with
a woman he had accidentally knocked up. He had a baby girl, went
through a rough custody battle AND was diagnosed with MS, all within a
couple of months. While I was relieved to have freed myself before
having to deal with all that, I also admired his tenacity. He seemed
like a real fighter.

Earlier this year, around March, he suddenly became VERY interested in
me. It literally happened overnight. One minute we were chatting about
basketball and, the next minute, he asked me for another chance. I
still don’t know where it all came from, but I remember being
attracted to him the first time and (unfortunately) I was feeling
ridiculously lonely. So, when he asked me if I wanted to go out again,
I said “Why not?” I had no expectations whatsoever. This attitude may
have just saved me from true disaster later on.

The first month was really great between us. He wanted to constantly
spend time with me and was beyond affectionate. It was almost like I
was dating a totally different human being. It never dawned on me that
he was rushing into everything, probably because flattery gets you
everywhere in my book. He was throwing the word “love” out, and I
didn’t know how to respond. I felt overwhelmed, for sure, but I also
just felt happy to be with someone who WANTED to be with me. So I went
with the flow. In the second month, he started to ask me about
relationship goals. I started to realize he was taking the
relationship MUCH more seriously than I was taking it. I just didn’t
know how to stop it. Whenever I tried to bring up slowing things down,
I was met with the same reply: “I’m a grown ass man who knows what he
wants. Maybe you’ve just been with lame dudes who didn’t know what
they had.” While my logic told me this was idiotic, my heart – the
heart that had been through so much rejection – wanted to believe his
intentions were good.
I decided I was just afraid of commitment and
faced my fear. I took the plunge. By the third month, we were living
together. This was when I started to see the red flags. The very first
time I saw it, he had planned this really nice date night for us in
Long Beach. We had dinner and then went to a hotel bar for drinks, and
noticed a guy nearby proposing to his girlfriend. It was really cute
and they seemed to kind of keep it private, but D wanted to walk over
and congratulate the guy. I remember suggesting that maybe he should
wait until they’re walking out, as it might be rude to interrupt their
personal moment. The following was our exchange, in a nutshell:

D: I want to go over there.
Me: I mean, just wait til they’re done. They probably want to savor
the moment privately, right?
D: You’re not a black guy (the guy who proposed was black; D was
half). We can go up to each other whenever.
Me: …okay, well if you really wanna go then go for it.
D: Do you think I’m stupid or something?
Me: Huh? Why would you s—
Me: Wait, what are you talking about?
D: You think I’m rude by going over there, don’t you??
Me: No, I said–
Me: first of all, please lower your voice. Secondly, I have NO clue
what you’re talking ab–
Me: Dude what in the hell is going on here? We’re in public, please
lower your vo–

I lowered my head because I was MORTIFIED. I was surprised nobody came
up to us to ask if everything was okay, but I was so confused by the
whole exchange. He was literally yelling, and I couldn’t bring myself
to yell back. I just couldn’t. I didn’t even know why he was angry.
The next day, he acted like nothing happened. When I brought up the
incident, he said what I would end up hearing several times in our
short-lived relationship: “Conflict is normal. Maybe you’re just not
used to it, but it’s actually healthy to argue. Move on.”

His daughter had just turned one, and he had her three weekends each
month. He had me involved from the get-go, which made me
uncomfortable. I always felt like parents should wait a while before
bringing someone around their kid, but he was insistent on having me
around often.  As to not look like a baby-hating monster beast, I
obliged and played along. The kid was cute, so that helped a bit.
Another red flag sprang up, though. He started to hit her. Yes. Hit
her. She was a year old. It started with swats to the butt, maybe
three quick swats at a time…but he would hit her for stupid reasons.
Not rocking her to sleep, not playing with her when she needed
attention, that stuff made her cry and throw tantrums. He’d let her
scream her head off for 15 straight minutes and then walk over and hit
her, which would make her cry/scream louder/longer (DUH). It disturbed
When I brought it up, he dismissed me, said I didn’t know anything
because I don’t have kids and to mind my business. After all, he’d
say, HE was whooped as a kid and he came out just fine!

Kaya, my lovely Himalayan kitty, hated him from the jump. She wasn’t
rude to him at first, but once we had moved in together, she would
avoid D and not let him get near her. D thought she had behavioral
problems and demanded that I “fix it.” My cat had always been friendly
to others, and I knew she was a good cat. After a few weeks, I noticed
Kaya wasn’t herself. She had stopped purring, she never came to sleep
with me, and anytime D walked by, she’d claw at him and hiss. I hoped
it was just a phase. I later learned that, based on my kitty’s odd
behavior, there was a high possibility that D had hurt her while I
wasn’t around. Cats never forget, you know.

The weekend before D proposed to me, we were drinking wine and
listening to R. Kelly when I casually mentioned I wasn’t a fan after
that whole “having sex with children” fiasco. This SOMEHOW turned into
a huge fight. He insisted that I was judgmental, that there was no
proof that R. Kelly knew the girls were underage, that I was a know it
all, etc. I sat there and couldn’t do anything else but laugh because
I found his attitude so ridiculous, that I had no response. My
laughing prompted him to slam his wine glass on the table, breaking
the glass and spilling the wine. He got up and yelled “IM DONE WITH

Of course, I cleaned the mess.

That night, I snuck outside with my phone and tried reaching my best
friend and my two other good friends. I wanted to tell them what
happened. I wanted them to tell me to leave. And then…I thought
about G.

G was a man I had dated on and off for about three years. He was the
person I’ve measured everyone up against. He bought me Kaya.
Clearly, I still hated that we didn’t work out and now we were just
friends. I wanted to tell someone about my thoughts, but instead I sat
on the sidewalk and cried. I felt trapped. I felt like I had rushed
into the relationship and now I had to deal with all the issues on my
own. This was my decision. It was MY mess. It was my job to fix it.
This was how my abusive relationship started ten years ago, and I had
no idea. Not yet, at least. I still don’t know why I said yes when he
proposed. Perhaps it was because he made it all so romantic. Perhaps
it was because the ring was so perfect for me. Perhaps because I
secretly hoped the relationship would turn into the relationship I
needed it to be. Yet, the night we got engaged, we got into a fight
because he locked Kaya in the closet to try and “teach her a
lesson.” I had an anxiety attack trying to open the door while D
slapped my hands away over and over again. He started yelling at me,
telling me to let Kaya stay in there for five minutes so that she
AND SHE CANT ACT OUT ANYMORE!!” slap slap slap. The ring hadn’t been on
my finger for a full 12 hours yet at this point. I couldn’t turn back

D wanted to have a wedding three months after our engagement. I didn’t
want to get married so quickly. “Why are you in such a rush?” “WHY DO
ARE YOU THAT INSECURE??” I went along with it by pushing it back six
months, but inside I was terrified. I wasn’t excited. I was so fucking
scared. I had no idea how to get out of the mess I had created.
The engagement lasted three weeks and two days. The day before it all
crashed and burned, I witnessed him yank his daughter from one arm in
her crib and smack her on her behind so hard it made me shoot up and
exclaim, “HEY!! What the hell dude? She’s a baby!!” He flung her back
into her crib and yelled back, “MIND YOUR BUSINESS. YOU’RE NOT HER
PARENT SO JUST SIT BACK DOWN!!!” I pointed at the ring and said, “If
you expect me to marry you and have a child with you, you have to
respect my opinion. I will not tolerate you touching MY child like
that.” He became belligerent, told me to fuck off, said he would do
what he wanted, etc.

I texted my best friend and she called me, and I finally told her how
I had been feeling. I didn’t even want to cry. I was just frustrated
and scared. I told her, “Look at me, I’m not even crying. This doesn’t
even make me sad. Everything makes me cry! Why don’t I cry about this?
That’s a problem.” But, the moment I admitted that I thought of G and
how I wished we had worked out, tears streamed down my face. That was
when I knew. My heart wasn’t in that apartment in Long Beach. I
decided to wait until he dropped off his daughter the next day to talk
to him. Of course, things went downhill faster than a race car. He
refused to make eye contact as I spoke, he refused to say anything
when I asked him what his thoughts were…it was like talking to a
bratty 6 year-old. My last question to him was “Why do you think we’re
compatible?” His reasons were as follows (bear with me):

1. We lived together.
2. We fight and make up quickly.

That’s it. I VERY calmly asked him for another reason and he became
angry, said he didn’t have to do what I said, said it was a stupid
question, and when I tried to tell him how important it was to me, he
yelled “BE QUIET” ten times in a row as he stormed out of the
apartment. Unknowingly, he locked himself out, so he knocked on the
back door and asked to come in. Before I unlocked the door, he said,
“Ugh, I need a padlock to put over your mouth so you can shut up


I backed away. I didn’t open the door. It was official: I felt unsafe.
As he yelled in the middle of the day for me to open the door, I
started to grab clothes and Kaya’s food/litter. I also decided to
turn my iPhone audio recorder on. When I went back to tell him I
didn’t feel safe, and that he was the one who stormed out, he shrieked
neighbors were listening. For the first time since moving there, I
WANTED them to hear him. I no longer wanted to keep anything a secret.
Had I married this man, he would have eventually struck me and he
would have blamed it on me. I saw my future standing outside, yelling
at me, cursing at me, and I knew it was over. I let him in once he
calmed down, and he tried to continue the “discussion.” I quietly
tried explaining (AGAIN) my point, and he interrupted me to tell me I
never let him talk. And he started yelling again. But I was no longer
terrified. I grabbed Kaya, a change of clothes and told him I was
staying with my sister. His text after I left said, “Hopefully this is
temporary and you get over it soon. Goodnight!” I didn’t respond.

Instead, I went to G’s house. I told him everything that had happened
and let him listen to the audio. And that brings me back to the

“Where’s Kaya?”

He was pacing around his living room, irate but calm.

“I don’t want you talking to him in private. Meet him in a public
place. Or take someone with you. I’ll go with you. I don’t trust him.”
I began to cry. I felt protected. I needed someone to be on my side. I
needed a man to be on my side and, as silly as this sounds, his
concern for my (or our) furry feline was what touched my heart more
than anything. I knew I was making the right decision. The breakup was
emotionless, just like the first time. He was a stone wall the next
day. He called me a quitter, said I didn’t know how to handle conflict
and that I was stupid to be afraid. I maintained my composure,
apologized for saying yes and for letting myself get caught up, and I
wished him the best. I never looked back.

In retrospect, I realize why he was in such a rush. His MS symptoms
had worsened, and he needed a partner before his health took a nose
dive. He needed a stable relationship so he could still see his
daughter. I also found out that his disease was progressing MUCH
faster than he had claimed and he hadn’t paid his daughter’s mother
any child support in six months. I was indeed just a pawn in his game
of life.  He felt like he was running out of time, so he chose me. He
didn’t love me. He didn’t fall in love with me.

This realization doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, it’s a relief. I
escaped a potentially dangerous situation and, although I thought I
had messed up once again, I knew I had learned from the first abusive
relationship. I stopped it in its tracks. I felt compelled to write
about my experience because, in the midst of all this domestic
violence chatter, I’d like for women – all women – to truly pay
attention to the red flags. If you see these signs, don’t wait until
he slaps you. Don’t wait until he starts to tell you that nobody will
ever love you. Don’t wait until he puts you down and definitely don’t
wait until he injures you. Stop it dead in its tracks. A beautiful
ring and declarations of love don’t mean shit. You’re worth so much
more than you could ever imagine.

As for Kaya, she purred the first night she stayed at my sister’s
house with me, and now, in our new apartment, sleeps next to me again.


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