Guest Blogger Naila: I was 23 and still reeling from my divorce to my college love. He was 27, a captain in the military, and very easily the textbook definition of fine. 6'3, 220, hazel eyes and a smile that stopped me in my tracks. Ivy educated, witty, close to his family. After two exceedingly perfect dates, I threw away all logic and eagerly accepted when he asked me to move in with him. Fayetteville, North Carolina was unlike anything I had ever experienced, a town that revolved around the Army. And here I was with one of their most beloved, his father and two brothers decorated high level officers. I thought my life was golden. Until he put his hands on me.
I come from a family of strong good men and had heard all my life that a man should never ever, no matter how bananas the situation, EVER put their hands on you. My country cousins seemed very okay with the concept of administering their own justice for such an offense.
"You are a weak man and insecure if you think that" I said to him, turning my back to leave the bedroom, angry over his insinuation that I was flirting with one of my Olive Garden co-workers. Before I finished taking three steps, his hand was around my neck and he spun me and pinned me up against the closet wall, suspending me in air with a grip so strong breathing was hard.
"What did you say?" The eyes that had captured me five months earlier were no longer visible, no longer offered any love. Unable to talk, I said nothing and, seconds later, he released his grip. I fell to the floor, stunned, and ran downstairs.
Too ashamed to call my family, I called a taxi with $45 dollars in my pocket from my tip money, while he sat in the living room watching ESPN. He made no attempt to stop me as I rushed out. The cab drove me 90 minutes south to the home of a guy one of my roommates casually dated. He opened the door to me sobbing and somehow conveying that I still owed the taxi driver money.
It wasn't long after that my boyfriend called, over and over again, apologizing, begging me to come home. Two days later, I did. He never laid his hands on me again. Instead, he turned to emotional abuse, sometimes making me wish he would just hit me. I wish I could say I was strong enough to leave, but I wasn't. He actually left me two years later when I became a flight attendant.
So when I look at Chris Brown and Rihanna, I get it, although I wish very much I didn't.