Confused and a little disturbed, I couldn’t work out why he was shouting at me.
We’d just had dinner. A slamming pumpkin soup I made with sweet potato and a little ginger, paprika and rosemary. He checked his emails on my computer and later played some tunes on his guitar, plugged in to his mini amplifier. It was all very chilled.
He’d come to see me as a favour to his ex, who recently bought my old car. She still owed me a bit more money and this was the final payment.
Everything was going pretty smoothly, even though Andre sort of mentioned the fact that we weren’t seeing each other any more left him sexually frustrated. But I let that comment slide through to the keeper.
I hadn’t seen him for a couple of weeks until this night, a Thursday night. I ended things because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. I think we both knew that. So when the ‘car drama’ happened, it seemed like a natural break.
He looked a little sad, and whilst I can’t recall exactly what he said (memory loss issues!); he brought up the topic of the ‘car drama’. Somewhat apologetically I think.
My response was something like: You know, I should have listened to my gut instinct. I don’t really like doing business with friends because money often causes problems. I shouldn’t have sold your ex the car.
Then the shouting began. Don’t ask me what the content was. It just sounded like loud white noise ringing in my ears.
Now – I don’t like shouting. I never have. I’ve always been sensitive to outright bursts of anger. I find it very draining and upsetting. I don’t mind having disagreements, but shouting puts me off-balance.
My first response was: I think you misunderstood what I said. I just meant that money and friends often don’t mix well – and look and what’s happening here. Please stop shouting.
But he didn’t. He got meaner. More cutting and insulting.
Please leave my house, I said.
I recall feeling composed at this point. I was telling myself how well I was handling the situation.
Asking him to leave just made him angrier. He made no effort to do as I’d asked. He just stood there shouting at me.
Please leave, I repeated.
He began taunting me. Why don’t you call the police?
I have no idea why I didn’t.
Except, my innocence about people and their motives is rather child-like. I tend to believe people are who they present themselves as. This is despite plenty of evidence over the years that most people aren’t that honest.
So, even though he was mad for some reason I couldn’t fathom… I thought he was ‘just’ mad. I didn’t expect the situation to escalate. And I thought I could handle things – that I was handling things.
From this point on, my memories aren’t coherent. I see snapshots of things that happened, but I have no idea whether they directly are connected to each other or not. Perhaps there was something in between each flash, but perhaps not. Also, the conversations below are all ‘approximate’ because I just don’t remember what was said. I have more of a general feeling of the words used only.
I know I kept trying to explain that I wasn’t accusing him of anything, that I was talking about the whole ‘friends/money don’t mix’ thing. I also know that he wasn’t listening; he just kept shouting at me and refusing to leave.
He hadn’t put his shoes on yet. His shoes, guitar, amp and a small bag were sitting in the hall. I decided that if he wouldn’t leave, I’d start moving his stuff outside. Possibly not the wisest move, but my therapist thinks I have a history of taking unnecessary risks…
I grabbed his shoes and his bag and opened the front door, ferrying his belongings to the driveway. When I came back in I felt, rather than saw, a shift in his attitude. I went to pick up his amp.
Before I could, he grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me against the wall. The flat part at the base of my skull hit the plaster with a crack. My vision went white for a few seconds.
Don’t touch my instruments! he thundered.
Well get your shit out of here and just LEAVE, I demanded, in shock. And how dare you touch me, get your hands off me!
Now we were both standing in the hall, the front door was wide open.
He was taking cheap shots, attempting to use things I’d told him against me. Trying to upset me. No wonder your mother… I can’t remember the rest. Only that in the face of this maelstrom I remained strong.
You don’t know what you’re talking about, quite clearly. My parents love me.
Things were very tense. Stressful. Extreme.
I slowly inched him towards the door. I was getting desperate. The verbal abuse continued. More nonsense. Menacing nonsense.
The very next thing I remember was afterwards. You see, I didn’t know it had happened til it was done.
He looked at me with intense anger in his deep brown eyes, staring defiantly.
The world was surreal.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? WHY IS HE LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT?
Then I started to feel the pain.
Oh. My. God. My face… Did he? Hit me?
I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t even see his arm move.
What the hell did you do? Did you just HIT me? Why would you do that? You fucking PRICK, I was crying.
He stood there silently then said, Go on, hit me back. Go on.
Andre is incredibly strong, muscular and a martial artist. I’m also trained in martial arts, but my inner voice was screaming at me not to respond. DON’T BE CRAZY. HE’S MUCH STRONGER THAN YOU ARE. DON’T DO IT!
But somehow I clumsily slapped him, with almost no strength in my arm. Yet the earring in his right ear fell out, onto the carpet.
Good. Now you can’t complain to the police. You hit me as well. And geez, I hardly touched you. If I really wanted to hurt you, you’d know about it. I could smash your fucking head in if I wanted to. And I might just do that some time… he mumbled in a low deep growl.
I focused on that earring even though I was shaking and crying. I needed the situation to change. I wanted the shouting to stop. I wanted him gone, but I didn’t have a plan. I was totally winging it.
Your earring fell out. It’s on the carpet. Pick it up, and get the FUCK out of my house!
What? Is this a joke?
No. Get your fucking earring and leave.
As he bent down and grabbed it, I used all the power I could muster to physically push him backwards, out the door, and I closed the door in his face.
Only I wasn’t quite fast enough.
He regained his balance and leapt forwards, his guitar slung over his shoulder. The head of the guitar smashed one of the glass panels as he put his shoulder into the door and forced his way back into the hall.
There was more verbal abuse, screaming, shouting, threats of further violence. Words that are lost to me, drowned out by shock. Drowned out by the ugliness and anger in Andre’s face.
In desperation, I remembered something. A strategy. A way of breaking the energy of a confrontation.
So I started screaming at the top of my lungs. HELP!! HELP, SOMEONE HELP ME. HELP, I NEED HELP. SOMEONE PLEASE COME AND HELP! I’M BEING ATTACKED!! SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME! HELP, HELP, HELP!!!
Directly over the fence from my front door was a block of flats, no more than three meters away. There were multiple tenants, some of whom must have heard me. I was also living in a split residence with neighbours who always complained about the slightest noise. So they must have heard me too.
But no one came.
The night was dark and freezing cold, and my screams were lost in the chill blackness. Not even an echo remained. And no help came.
Inexplicably my screaming seemed to break the spell and he walked out. I slammed the door. But he didn’t go away. Instead he stood outside yelling abuse, making threats. Terrorising me a little more.
JUST GO AWAY!!
I was in tears, pain, shock, distress and fear. I was terribly confused. My body was shaking non-stop, which lasted the rest of the night and much of the following day.
I was still trying to work out what just happened. Why it happened.
The rest of that night’s story is told here: Those eyes – or – don’t step in the glass
The term Ground Zero may be used to describe the point on the earth’s surface where an explosion occurs. In the case of an explosion above the ground, Ground Zero refers to the point on the ground directly below an explosion (see hypocenter). The term has often been associated with nuclear explosions and other large bombs, but is also used in relation to earthquakes, epidemics and other disasters to mark the point of the most severe damage or destruction. Damage gradually decreases with distance from this point.