As I lie in bed, paralyzed by flashbacks of an abusive relationship, I begin to feel my heart pumping faster, louder, harder. I hear the bass in his voice through our shared apartment wall. Berating, a familiar sound that I recognize all too well. He does not let you speak. If I didn’t know better, the silence on your end would lead me to think he was alone, maybe yelling on the phone. It is clear this is not a dialogue between the two of you. It is just the voice of an angry, disrespectful person who is not even worthy of being called a man.
From our shared wall, I hear glass shatter and a tear runs down my face. I have been in your situation. I think to myself, “Should I be calling the cops?” I feel guilty not calling, but I also know that when I was once in your position, the cops showing up would have only made the violence worse the next time around. I have been where you are. I sat there as the man who I thought loved me was yelling in my face and throwing things around me. I have experienced the same looming thoughts you are experiencing, always wondering, “Am I going to be the next thing he breaks?”
I see a bag thrown onto our shared steps; a door slams, not once but twice. A moment of silence. I do not see you leave, so I know you are still in that apartment with that man. Panic sweeps over me. Are you okay? Why has the fighting suddenly stopped? 10, 15, 20 minutes pass. My thoughts have been racing this entire time. My mind has tricked my body into thinking I am the one reliving this argument.
I hear a soft voice, but not enough to make out a clear assessment of the situation. An hour goes by and I hear your laugh. You two leave, holding hands as if nothing has ever happened.
I am exhausted. I unwantedly lived through my own trauma because of our shared walls. When I left my own abusive relationship, I thought I was done with this cycle. I thought I was going to be able to sleep throughout the night. I thought I had healed.
I do not know what started the fight between the two of you, or even what it is about, but I can tell you that you do not deserve to be treated in such a way. No human ever does.