It was 3 a.m. I was praying to a god I didn't think existed as I knocked insistently on the door of the neighbor's apartment, naked and trying to cover myself as best I could. It was my 21st birthday. When the man opened the door with a knife in his hand I nearly ran, but it was snowing and I knew John wasn't far behind me. The knife was for his own protection, though - he thought the crazed, screaming man who was my husband was going to come after him.
The neighbor let me in, gave me some clothes and let me use the phone to call my mother. "You should call the police first," he told me, but I was pretty sure a couple of my ribs were cracked and my nose was bleeding like a faucet. I called my mother and listened to John stomp around the house screaming about what a bitch and whore I was while I waited for her to pick me up. She didn't ask questions, just took me to the hospital.
John had come home from who knows where drunk, (or high, I could never tell) and crawled on to the mattress on the floor where I was half asleep. He accused me of cheating on him, which had become a familiar accusation by that time, then started pushing at me. I buried my face in the blanket and bit down as I screamed in frustration. He screamed at me not to bite him, punching me in the ribs over and over, kicking me and calling me a whore.
I tried to pull on a pair of jeans but he ripped them from me, telling me that everything I owned was thanks to him. That was funny, since he hadn't been working and I had been unwittingly supporting his heroin habit.
He left me long enough to search the apartment for a phone book. "I'm just going to put it to your face and break your nose," he crooned, as though he was comforting me. "I'm only going to break your nose." He pounded on the door to the bathroom, where I'd locked myself, cracking the door in the middle. I heard him walk away from the door, probably in search of something to pry the door open with. That's when I ran.
The police told me later, at the hospital, that this wasn't his first offense. They told me about how he'd been sentenced to 5 years in prison for beating a woman with a baseball bat and gotten out early for good behavior or some such. They told me how lucky I was.