When people fall prey to abusive relationships, it is often difficult for them to get out. When they do finally get out of the relationship, they often find themselves repeating this same pattern again and inevitably ending up in another abusive situation. For somone who has never been in this situation, it is difficult to understand why the abuse victim continues to live this way. Usually, the abused party will continue to play the role of the victim in this cycle of abuse until they have their “Tina Turner Moment.”
Ike and Tina Turner had one of the most widely publicized abusive relationships in entertainment history. Through over a decade of marriage, he abused her and other band members. When we think of their relationship, we often think of the physical abuse, the most difficult type of abuse for an abuser to hide as there are immediate physical scars and symptoms, but there was undoubtedly more to it than just physical abuse.
I was once victim to these circumstances. I had grown up with abuse and the pattern naturally took a role in my relationships when I began dating. Each boyfriend became progressively worse than the last. Until I met one guy who was everything the others weren’t. He was nice, polite, and gentle. He loved children and animals. Though this is who he portrayed himself to be, there was something empty about his actions, as if he was acting the role of this nice guy without emotions behind it. That was one of my first impressions of him; that he was pretending to be nice but was really a psychopath. I soon learned why they tell you to always follow your instincts.
My family and friends met and liked him. I confided to a few of them my fear that maybe he was just pretending to be nice and that he was truly a psychopath. Since I have a reputation for being overly cautious, they brushed my statement aside and cited that I was so used to being in bad relationships that I was scared that a nice guy was actually interested in me for once. Regardless of what they said, I still thought I might be right. I wasn’t yet strong enough to break out of this cycle or to listen to my inner voice, and of course, I wanted to buy what they were selling. Everyone wants that nice person to sweep them off their feet, to kiss their tears away, and to (insert other ridiculously overused love cliches here). Anyway, I wanted what everyone wanted: love, and here he was promising literally to be my knight in shining armor. I was incredibly vulnerable as I fell into this trap. I had just been ditched by another guy who I dated briefly, after confiding in him that I had survived rape.
Over the next few months I wondered why he never got angry about anything. I’d ask him if he had a temper. Something about him and his demeanor deceived his claims that he never got mad. The more I grew to like him and need him, the more his true self began to show. Screaming, swearing, and all kinds of verbal abuse ensued. Sometimes he would drive fast to scare me. He even had the nerve speed on a winding road where one of my friends had gotten killed years earlier in an automobile accident because of speeding. That was a horrible day and I remember it well. I begged him to slow down. The more I begged, the angrier he got. I swore he was grinning like he enjoyed torturing me, then he screamed in my ear. Since we were in the car and he screamed at such a close range, my hearing in my left ear was damaged.
This was my prince charming? The man who promised me the world? To think, on one of our first dates, he asked me about marriage and kids, and often held it against me that I wasn’t interested in either. (Would you want to have kids with or marry this guy?).
These incidents pale in comparision to the final blowout we had. It really wasn’t a we, however. He always blamed me for starting our fights, for causing him to yell and swear at me, and for being the catalyst for anything bad he chose to do to me. Truth is he didn’t like the fact that I had an opinion, ever. And one night after a wedding, I had the nerve to be mad at him for missing the bus back to our hotel. Much later a second bus arrived, we piled in with the other wedding guests. I looked out the window and tried to ignore him. It was better to be silent then say something I would regret. He asked me what was wrong, and I made the mistake of telling him that I was mad that he made us miss the bus, that I was mad that he cared more about helping the other wedding guests get to the bus than making sure I got across the street safely, that I was mad at how big of a jerk he acted like after drinking way too much that night. He wasn’t apologetic, in fact, he called me every word you could possibly imagine even though the bus was full of people, all of which could hear him.
He carried on this way for the whole ten minute bus ride and then all the way up to the hotel room. I tried to go back into the elevator to get away from him, but he followed me laughing. I didn’t want to be alone with him in an elevator. I got out and walked to the room trying to figure out what to do as he followed closely behind me and threatened to hurt me. Lots of things were running through my mind, namely how had I ended up in this situation? How had I lived through so much, accomplished things I was proud of, yet still be vulnerable enough to end up in this situation?
My stuff was still in the hotel room as well, and I didn’t want him to throw it out, so I went into the room with him, and continued to tell him to calm down, which he refused to do. When I got into the room, I sat down at the desk chair in the corner of the room, but before I knew what happened, the chair went flying across the room with me in it. Then he picked me up and threw me onto the bed swinging me around like a rag doll. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was surreal, had he really just done that?
Here I was in a beautiful gown and make-up being treated like a football. I was screaming, screaming at the top of my lungs. “Shut up,” he yelled in my face, threatening to break my teeth.
“No!” I screamed. “I like my teeth,” I cried thinking about how much money my parents had spent on braces, and all those trips to the orthodontist as a young teen.
“Shut up!” He screamed again and continued to threaten my teeth. Shut up? He kept demanding I shut up and listen to him, but when I did, all he said was the same thing over and over again, to “shut up and listen to him.” I couldn’t stop screaming.
“Let go of me,” I begged. Then he did something even more unthinkable than what had just happened. He grabbed a pillow off the bed and put it over my mouth. My heart sunk. I prayed for angels and for God to send someone to get me out of there. The story of a family friend flashed through my head. Her boyfriend had kidnapped her from her bedroom and murdered her while her parents were away on vacation. Though it was something that happened to a family close to mine it never dawned on me that it could happen to me as well. Somehow I never worried about being murdered, as if my life path was immune to it, until this night, of course. Would my parents be getting a call the next morning informing them that I had died the night before in a hotel room? I didn’t want to die now in a hotel room at the hands of my boyfriend. As soon as that thought passed though my head, he lifted the pillow. I looked at him with eyes widened and talked him into letting go of me. He said he’d let go of me if I promised not to go anywhere. I agreed, and as soon as he let go of me I made a run for the door and opened it, but he slammed it shut entrapping me. He began screaming and threatening me all over again. Slowly I slunk down to the floor as I leaned against the door that he wouldn’t let me open, wondering if there was ever going to be an end to his rage.
But then there was a knock at the door. It was the guy from the lobby. “Let me out please!” I said, and ran out of the room, thanking him profusely. Across the hall a few people peeked out of their room. They had been on the shuttle, I recognized them from the wedding. Humiliated I walked across the hall as they flagged me into their room. They told me they’d heard all the things he’d said to me on the bus. I didn’t know what to do. He’d driven, I had no car here. I peeked out the door. He was speaking to the woman in the next room over, she was screaming at him for waking her up. He was back to pretending to be this nice guy that he certainly wasn’t and offered to pay for her hotel room, truth is his broke ass barely paid for our hotel room.
I closed the door and spoke with the people. They were pretty sympathetic. Then one guy asked me if he’d ever done anything like this before. I said no but that he did have a bad temper. “Oh,” he said, and I could feel that I instantly lost my credibility with him. As if I should’ve known better. Maybe I should’ve but I didn’t.
Tina Turner experienced this type of abuse regularly. When she finally left her husband, he had just beat the shit out of her in their hotel room. She ran out the door to another motel and told the person at the desk that she “had a fight with her husband.” Her face was bloody, and she didn’t have a dollar on her to pay for a room. That was the day she left Ike, and she never looked back.
Unfortunately, I didn’t initially leave this monster after what happened that night in the hotel room. Not right away at least. Feeling like I had no one else to turn to, I stayed with him. Still, I feared that if he tried to hurt me again that no one would hear me scream and that maybe the next time, no one would be there to save me. Maybe he really would break my teeth or even kill me if I waited until his temper erupted again.
To this day, I feel like my life had been spared; I’d come so close to death once again. It scares me to think about how he could’ve suffocated me if he had kept the pillow on me for a few more seconds. One night a few weeks after this incident, I was late for a date with him because of work. He abruptly cussed me out and dumped me. I hung up the phone. Soon he began texting me. I looked at the phone, expecting some type of apology. I was wrong, more swearing and put-downs. Soon my phone ran out of battery, I didn’t think to recharge it— for what? So he could call me up and swear at me more? I’d finally had enough. I’d finally had my “Tina Turner Moment,” and looking back on every horrible thing I let happen to me, I knew with certainty this time, that I would never let it happen to me again.
Have you ever had a “Tina Turner Moment” (abuse is abuse, it is not necessary that you had to be physically abused to have one)?
Did you know that according to those statistics, the most unsafe place for a woman to be is not in a dangerous city, a dark alley or any of those other stereotypical scary places, but in her own home??
Did you know that abusive relationships are the most physically dangerous threat to women, surpassing heart attacks and even cancer?
I will never stop telling people how grateful I am to be alive today. I am finishing up my new book, The Ocean, which is a novella that explores relationships, mainly abusive ones. The book is dedicated to all the women who have survived domestic violence as well as the ones who didn’t.
Look for my next post, How do Smart Women End up with abusive men?