The night before I left my abuser, we went to our pastor's house and he confessed everything.
He had confessed before, but nothing ever came from it. This is the trick of abusers. They assume the mask of remorse. And people desperately want to believe that immediate change is real.
It is not.
If a person tells you he is an abuser, trust that he'll do it again. Next time he will hit harder.
That's the cycle of violence, and it's almost impossible to break.
And so like every other time I had told people about the abuse, we were sent home together with promises that he would seek help. That God would provide. That prayers would help.
Guys, they sent us home.
We had just moved into a downtown loft with concrete floors, and I kept seeing visions of my head cracked open on that floor. That floor, to me, represented everything about him - colorless, cold, hard. Having to go back there with a violent person on the verge of losing everything kept me awake and staring at the shadows on the wall all night.
As soon as the sun came up, I slipped out and got to work - my safe place. The company I was working for had just moved offices, and so there was no listing for us. There was only a small pocket of time, where I knew I could keep a bit of my identity separate from him.
Now, working in Hollywood if you arrive at work before 10A.M., then you're probably an intern or a new graduate. There were only two of us who would show up at 8A.M., me and another hungry young woman.
She walked into my office and asked what our projects were for the day, and I replied:
"Well, my husband's been hurting me for a while, and so I'm leaving him today."
Without histrionics, without the bat of an eye, she simply said: "We'll get your things today, and you'll stay with me."
This was the first person I had told about the abuse who did something to help.
When our male co-worker got to work, she discreetly told him the situation, and by lunch the three of us went back to the loft and gathered a backpack full of clothes, a small box of momentos, and my camera. These people were wonderful, calm, and stealth.
We got back to the office, and we got back to work like nothing happened. Only now I had a little corner of my desk with everything in the world that I owned. Throughout the day I would reach down and touch my backpack. There wasn't much in it, but it was the first time in so long I felt something belonged to me and only me. Mine, mine, mine, mine, I kept thinking, as if the pack was a true extension of my own body that I was reclaiming.
Later that day, my boss walked into my office, took a seat, and said: "heard you've been going through a rough time," and then she slid a check for $1000 on my desk.
You see, that's what survivors need. They don't need histrionics. They don't need your tears. They don't need to talk about it. They don't even need you to feel badly for them. They're in fight or flight mode and their body and its safety is the only thing that they can tend to.
The talk, the tears, the rage, even the breathing -- all of that needs to be dealt with later.
Survivors need action, money and a safe place to sleep.