The Moment I Realized

Four hours before. 

The hot chocolate that I had just picked up from the coffee shop not only spilled on my white ruffled blouse but it also burned my tongue. I hated burning my tongue because I knew that it would take forever to heal. The car behind me began honking as I used spare napkins to soak up the mess. The light had turned from red to green and I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t notice many things today. All I could focus on was the constant ringing and sounds of urgent text messages from him. 
He kept calling. Just kept calling. So much, that I couldn’t focus on a skill that I had mastered many times before. Sip and drive. Sip and drive. Instead, my focus was on the text messages.

‘Where are you?’
‘Can you please come home so we can talk?’ 
‘I’m sorry for yelling at you’
‘I love you so much it hurts.’

I had no intention on replying, I needed space and time to think. I slammed the cup of hot cocoa down in my car's cupholder in frustration. Slammed it so if the cup of hot cocoa was him. 
The car behind me honked again, interrupting my troubled thoughts. I finally accelerated and proceeded to drive. Letting my window down, I invited the cold December air in to ride with me down the dark and secluded street. 
Once I made it to my destination, I placed my car in park and picked up my cellphone. Clicking the internet browser, I typed '' into the address bar. 

'What do I do if my boyfriend calls me a bitch?' 

I hit search. 

Two hours before. 

“So, are you going to tell him the good news?” Nova asked. 
I wasn’t sure how to respond. Here I was, sitting in a bar with my best-friend since Kindergarten and I couldn’t express what should have been excitement. Yet, I couldn’t fake it…not with Nova. 
In an instant, she noticed. The repugnant look that had settled on my face. It wasn’t the expected look for women who had just found out about the life inside of her. Something so precious that was created out of love. Half mommy, half daddy. 
“What did he say this time, Tia?” Nova asked, concerned. 
“Selfish bitch...because I wasn't able to have dinner cooked before he got home from work. I'm at the doctor's office finding out this good news and he says this because dinner wasn't ready. Can you believe that? Dinner.” I replied, emotionless. 
Nova gasped loudly, “That son-of-a-“
“Don't,” I replied. 
I couldn’t hear the word again. The thought of it made me sick. The thought of him calling me that made me sick. The overall thought of him, at that moment, made me sick. 
Nova looked at me sympathetically, as she always did when I told her about one of our yelling matches. Although his insults were becoming more regular, he had never called me something so foul and vicious.

We both grew uncomfortably silent. Although I knew Nova wasn’t the judging type, I became uncomfortably embarrassed. 
“I keep googling, ‘what do I do if my boyfriend calls me a bitch’ and google keeps telling me that insults are an obvious warning sign of being in an unhealthy abusive relationship.” 
“You knew that already, so why do you keep googling it?” Nova asked. 
I shrugged. But in reality, I had to see it in front of me to know that it was real. Highlighting over the word ‘abuse’ on my computer for three hours this morning is what made me leave. Abuse. 
“You know what you have to do Tia. It’s time to let him go. You have another person to think about and you don’t want your baby growing up in a house where daddy is always calling mommy a bad name.” Nova said. 
Instinctively, my hand ran across my stomach, as if to shield my child from the evils that were of his/her own father. The same way that my mother would do whenever my dad would get angry with her. 
I nodded. 

45 minutes before. 

After our heart to heart, we waited for Davin to come pick Nova up. Davin was her new love. When he finally walked into the bar, he walked in as if he owned the place. Nova’s back was turned toward him and I was facing him. As he approached, he placed a friendly finger over his mouth, instructing me to keep quiet. I did as I was told and watch as he scooped her into a loving bear hug from behind. Startled at first, Nova’s body went from tense to relaxed as she knew the familiar feel of this man. Her man. They gazed directly into each other's eyes before placing a soft and gentle kiss on each other's lips. 
The gaze was so familiar to me. Chaz used to look at me the same way. This past year had changed him in such a way that I didn’t even understand. 
After appropriate introductions and minor chatting, Nova told Davin to walk me to the car and warm up his car whilst she was in the restroom. We all gathered our coats and headed in different directions. The night had grown darker and colder as Davin and I walked to my car. The silence was killing me. “Well, it was very nice meeting you Davin. You didn’t have to walk me to my car, but I appreciate it.” 
Davin’s tense posture, softened as he opened the driver’s side door for me.”No problem. Nice to meet you, Nova, drive home safe.”  I watched as he walked to his car, his overall mannerism was refreshing. I couldn’t remember the last time Chaz opened a door for me or told me to be safe. 

The moment I realized. 

I don’t remember the moments right before it happened, but out of nowhere a forceful blow contacted with the side of my face as I walked through the door of our apartment. Again, instinctively, I grabbed my stomach shielding my child. MY child. The loud ringing noise wouldn’t subside so I couldn’t hear what he was yelling about. However, I could tell that he was asking me a question and waiting for me to answer…but the ringing from the blow overpowered his yelling. Suddenly, his fingers were wrapped around my throat and as he backed me up onto the wall, I regained the ability to hear. 
“WHO WERE YOU WITH TONIGHT?!”….”I FOLLOWED YOU…AND I SAW YOU WITH HIM”…”WHO WAS HE?”…”ANSWER ME,” he yelled, furiously yanking my throat with each octave. I remained silent and still. At that moment, I had perfected it like I had perfected my hot cocoa routine. Silent and still. Silent and still. Looking into his eyes, I saw nothing. Blankness. Yet, beyond that blankness, I saw the rage and the hate. It seemed uncontrollable but for the life of me I couldn’t understand how we could’ve been in love for four years and had created a life in the result of our love, and he now hates me. 
Lack of air caused my lack of consciousness. As my eyes blurred, his look of rage turned into a look of deep sorrow and remorse. His tight grasp loosened and I fell to the ground, sucking in all of the oxygen in the room. He kneeled down, with tears streaming down his face. His hand rose, I flinched. He looked hurt by my actions. He was apologetic and pleading for me to forgive him. “I love you so much, that it hurts,” he said. 
But like the hot chocolate that had burnt my tongue, the embarrassment I felt venting to Nova, the forceful blow to my head, and the fingers pressed firmly around my neck…he could never understand that kind of hurt.
As I sat on the floor, cradling my stomach, I realized that:

I wanted him gone.
There was no need in explaining my truth, he was destined to show me this side. This evil side. 
Google characterized it as abuse. 
MY child wouldn’t be raised in an abusive home. 
I would do anything to protect my child. MY child. 

Stroking my hair, he says “What can I do to make this right? I love you, I don’t want to hurt you anymore.” 

“You won’t” I muttered. 
At that moment, I realized that he wouldn’t ever get another chance to hurt me. 

5 years after. 

    “You see ladies, what I want you to take away from my story is that you can leave whenever you realize that you are in a harmful situation. Any questions?” 
“Hi Tia, my name is Elena and I have been in an abusive relationship for the past three years.”
“Welcome Elena,” the support group said in unison. 
“Um..what happened after you left him and how can you encourage women to come to terms with that realization as you did?”
“Well Elena, just a month before my daughter Ava was born Chaz had murdered his current girlfriend. The news said that he had beaten her to death and that he was abusive throughout their entire relationship. But the night that he killed her, his abuse was too much for her body to handle and he did permanent damage. He’s currently serving a life sentence in prison. If I can do anything through my story I want women in similar situations to know that you can come to grips with your realization. It may not be as early in the situation as it was for me but as long as you come to grips with it and can get out, do it. I always think that his girlfriend could’ve been me if I would’ve stayed even a day longer.  If you are here and you are still in an abusive relationship realize that: 
You want him gone. 
There is no need for you to plead or explain your truth, he will show you that evil side again. 
Google the kind of abuse to see for yourself what it really is. 
If you have children, you don’t want them raised in an abusive home. 
 Do what you have to do to protect your children and yourself.