the night things changed

…so i was pissed, and he went from apologetic to sad to pleading to furious. i was sitting on the couch when he asked if i REALLY wanted him gone.
if i leave i’m not coming back, he said.
“i know… and you should still go.”

i don’t remember the moments right before it happened, but suddenly his fingers were wrapped around my throat. i was stunned, and didn’t try to fight him off or protest. i just stared in his eyes and saw a blankness, a rage, something uncontrollable in him that i’d never seen before. when i didn’t gasp for air, he twisted his mouth and tightened his grip until i did. he made me fight to breathe for about ten seconds before he let go.

after that point i don’t remember too many specifics. my therapist says i went into survival mode.

i knew i needed to get him out of my apartment ASAP and i needed to make sure he left his key to my place when he did. i do remember him following me around the apartment, screaming at me to forgive him. he choked me again three or four more times that night, each time with less intensity than the one before it.

when he realized i wasn’t going to change my mind about making him leave, he threw one of my dining chairs and a cup full of water toward me, then slammed a pumpkin scented candle at my feet on his way out. i grabbed my keys and jacket (because he still had my spare key) and followed him, making sure i kept the door ajar in case he attacked me and i needed to run. i told him that he could either give me my key right there in the hallway or we could do this whole show in front of the doorman. he pressed the button to call the elevator, but when it arrived i got onto the car with him.

i guess we gon have to do this in front of the doorman, i said, because you’re not leaving here with my key.

he pushed me, gently at first, and then shoved me out of the elevator when i resisted. i lunged to get back on it and started to scream, knowing that he HATES to be embarrassed and would flip if someone opened their door to check on the noise. cursing and furious, he tore the key off his chain and threw it in the hallway.

i picked up the key as the elevator doors closed and waited to hear him go downstairs before i returned to my apartment. i locked the door, carefully tiptoeing around the floor now shining with fragments of glass. i put the spare key in an old purse and hid it from myself.

before i went to bed that night i picked up the cup he’d thrown and laid a towel over the spilled water. i righted the dining chair, rinsed my face of tears, and checked my neck for bruises. i swept most of the broken candle and glass into the dustpan and took a picture of it, to remind myself why he can’t come back.

i googled “what to do after your boyfriend chokes you” and learned i’d been strangled. i felt his grip around my throat for all of the next day.

Comments 13

  1. Reading this shook me. I advise you make a report of this with your local precinct. No telling if he would do this to another woman and there needs to be some kind of alert. I’m glad you’re currently safe and wholeheartedly hope that you don’t go through this with someone else. Bright Blessings, Sis. Stay Strong

  2. Hi beauty :) I’m a fan of yours and I encourage you to continue to write until you can’t anymore, hun. Stay blessed

  3. I am so happy that you made it out safe. This is such a problem. I am in tears knowing the fear you had in those moments. My prayers are with you and your spirit as you try to heal.

  4. Crissle,

    You don’t know me, I don’t know you and chances are we may never meet but I’m a huge fan. Like others, I listen to you weekly and because of that can get a sense of ‘knowing you’ – but we don’t.

    We don’t know what you think and feel. We don’t know when you’re low because we expect you to on your high when we tune in; forgetting you as human as we are.

    We should be conscious of the fact that you open such a window for us to hear, take in and learn from.

    My hope and prayer for you is that people let you be human, the healing will follow.

    Thank you for your bravery x

  5. Hi Ms. West,

    I’m new to your website and The Read, and I was hoping this was fiction. Some further reading of your other posts and your Twitter page revealed that it is not. I want you to know a couple of things.

    1) I would like to get him every time I see him like Chrissy and Kimbella.

    2) You are still intelligent, strong, funny, honest, talented, a good friend etc. You are beautiful inside and outside.

    Not that you asked me what I think, but I’m telling you anyway just in case it will make you feel even a little better.

    With adoration,

    Joseph

  6. I’m sorry Crissle…I pray that you get whatever it is that you need at this time. ..strength…Peace….laughter. .whatever it is that you need to be comforted. Thank you for continuing to push through so that we have examples of how to push through!!!!

  7. Crissle,
    Write a book damnit instead of plugging everyone else’s. Why do we women have to experience such intimacy trauma? Praying for you and for me and for all the other brown girls that “he” hurt.

  8. Hi Crissle. I’m a big fan of your work and just came back onto your website to find out some of what you’ve been going through recently… Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story and for being an inspiration to other WOC writers. Stay strong sis.

  9. Hi.

    I read this and it squeezed my heart. A little for what went through and a little for what I went through. Things are so complicated and I don’t know how to get away. I wish I was as strong as you.

    You’re amazing.

  10. Hi.

    I read this and it squeezed my heart. A little for what you went through and a little for what I went through. Things are so complicated and I don’t know how to get away. I wish I was as strong as you.

    You’re amazing.

  11. Hi Crissle,
    Like the others, I’m a huge fan. I appreciate your openness and sharing this with the world, especially knowing how much people “ain’t shit”. I’m so glad you’re safe now and am even more sorry that this happened to you.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a reality that so many of us face in silence. Karma will prevail. Continue being strong!

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