The account I rarely tell anybody, but it’s long enough in the past that it doesn’t matter anymore. All of it, the context and the details, are forgotten now to all but me.

I am prone to abusive relationships, and despite obvious signals and warning signs I entered into a relationship with this woman anyway. Years ago now. One of the only rules I put down before we became intimate again was no hitting, no pain, and not even any joking gestures as if you were to slap or spank me. She does not seem prone to that kind of thing anyway but I had to set that one rule. Treat me like dirt in other ways but don’t ever hit me or even threaten to.

THe night it ended with a woman I’d dated for longer than I should have came when she had me pinned to the ground, in the middle of the street, with a look of murder in her eyes and a clenched fist raised high in the air, poised to strike me in the face. She was stronger than I and could have smacked me good and hard.

She did not, but I remember in the moment I managed to get us positioned in the middle of the street, under the light of the streetlamps, so that witnesses could possibly be summoned if this altercation got truly brutal, which I felt it could.

There were people watching this, I took some perverse comfort in knowing that if my face was beaten and bloodied there would at least be witnesses. I can never forget that look in her eyes. Stone cold, determined, quivering with rage.

We got home and I told her that’s it. Stay the night but don’t come back. It was so hard to say and harder still to follow through but I was not going to live in fear of physical assault.