It was late and there was a roaring in her head that overtook the sound of his shouting. She stopped processing his words after the threat left his lips.
“I’ll kill you.”
She believed him.
Each word dripped with malice, hate, venom. What he was actually saying faded out, and all she could feel was the heat of his rage as he towered over her. She was hunched over, back to the wall, her shoulders up to her ears, arms up.
Over his shoulder she could see her son, standing in the doorway silently, tears running on his red face.
She had to leave. They had to leave.
Leaving was the easy part. Staying gone was the always the challenge. She’d long been the victim of domestic violence. She’d tried to stay gone many times before: when he’d yell, scream and curse her name; when he’d throw the remote, beer bottles, and shoes at her; she was able to leave when he put his hands around her neck. But after a few days of over staying her welcome on a friend’s couch, with no money for a place of her own, with a thousand sweet apologetic messages on her phone – it seemed safer to return.
Not this time. She wasn’t safe here with him anymore. And neither was her son.
She tried to leave, with her child in tow. He stopped her. He threatened her. He made it clear, she was worthless and could leave; but his son had to stay. “I’ll kill you if you try and take him.”
She believed him.
It was the toughest choice she had to make. Was their son ultimately safer here with him? She wouldn’t live to find out if she stayed.
She had to leave.
So, she packed up what little she had to her name and left. Making the hardest sacrifice. Vowing to return for her boy as soon as she could. And she did. It took almost a year of tears and hard work. A year of secrete phone calls to her son. A year of saving and planning. But the moment she could, she hired an attorney and filed for divorce.
She was finally able to hold her baby in her arms again. She was safe. He was safe. It was worth the sacrifice.