Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year and the official start of summer.
Yet today I found myself thinking about a brutally frigid morning a few winters ago. It was about eight o’clock, and, without exaggeration, eighteen degrees below zero outside. I shifted my car into reverse when the reflection of a woman moved across my rearview mirror.
She moved along the roadside at a hurried pace, thickly bundled against the truly painful air: the collar of her wool coat pulled up over her ears and a knit hat yanked down to her jaw. A scarf snaked around her neck and was knotted over the bridge of her nose. Only her eyes were visible. It was that kind of cold that morning.
Once she’d cleared the end of our driveway I slowly backed into the road and headed in her direction, toward town. I rolled the car alongside her and cracked open the passenger window.
“Can I give you a lift?” I asked.
After only the slightest pause, she nodded.
She slipped into the car quickly, positioned a striped tote bag on the floor between her ankles and buckled the seat belt.
“Where are you headed?”
She slid her scarf down from the bridge of her nose and named a small local business on main street in town, two miles ahead. I didn’t recognize the little slice of her face I could then see. I guessed her to be in her mid to late twenties.
“Too cold to walk today.” I said.
“Yeah,” she agreed. “Thanks for the ride. I started out in Wells.” (Wells being a neighboring village two miles to the north.)
“Car trouble?” I asked, “Mine was pretty cranky about starting today.”
“No, car’s fine,” she assured me. “Couldn’t find my keys.”
“Oh no! That stinks! I hope they turn up soon.”
“They will. My boyfriend hid them last night. He’s mad because I won’t leave work early today to give him a ride somewhere.”
“So he’s keeping your car?”
“Yeah, he said he’d drive himself.”
“Wow. That’s just wrong.” My head shook in disbelief.
How could you put up with that? Before I could give words to my growing incredulity that someone would do something that selfish, disrespectful and controlling—before I could could counsel her to get out of that abusive relationship as soon as she could—before I could say anything to encourage her to save herself, we had pulled in front of the place where she worked. And according to the clock on the dash, she was already four minutes late.
“Thanks again,” she said as she hastily gathered her self and things to exit.
“No problem. Hope your day doesn’t get any worse.”
“Oh, it won’t,” she snickered. “But his might.”
She pulled open the tote bag as she lifted it up off the floor. “I took the plates off my car before I left.” Sure enough, there were two automobile license plates poking out from between some papers and a canvas lunch sack.
Only her eyes were visible, but I sensed her lips had curled into a smirk behind her scarf.
“You go girl!” I said, and never meant anything more literally.
Did she go? I don’t know. But I had a good feeling about that woman. She had a capable, I know my worth and I’m not taking your sorry shit kind of attitude. I’m optimistic that she eventually left that damaged and damaging relationship.
But countless many stay in similar—and worse—situations, believing that because they’re not being physically struck that it’s not abusive. It is. It is. It is.
Have you saved yourself from someone else’s emotional or physical violence? Two XIZOZU™ Medal Pendants that honor getting yourself out of harmful relationships, claim yours:
I Got Out of an Abusive Relationship
I Ended a Toxic Friendship or Family RelationshipYES! I GOT OUT!
Here are some places you might find help for yourself or someone you love.
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.
And also these: