cover photography Abuse by ChristineObsceneFYS
prologue: Why do people stay in abusive relationships? Love
What is love? Academia has struggled with presenting a single definition of love. Biologists believe it is a basic instinct, that nature inputs into the DNA of all animals certain primal qualities, that exist with or without the loving hands of nurture. Psychology seems to suggest, that love begins and ends in the mind, and that each person can control love, with the same intensity and chance, that love can control them.
I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt
For the Love of Erika Parker
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
The first punch caught Erika off guard. She absorbed the blow with the intentional self-destruction of a heavyweight boxer. The pain would come later, that was a foregone conclusion. The pain always came later. But as the second and third strikes landed, and the blood began to spill, all she could think about was what had she done this time.
Love became biological for Erika. She needed it, and thought it needed her for elementary survival. It overpowered all else in her body, which was becoming less able to recover from his relentless bouts of aggression. Still dizzy, and only an hour removed from the epic beating, she believed would take her life, she lay comforted in her abusers arms. “I love you,” he whispered in her ear, while wiping the blood from her battered face. Although the pain had now attacked her, wreaking havoc, where it may, the expression of love, was all that she could feel.
Erika Parker (not her real name) was born into a family of love and raised in a traditional home. Her father held firm on to the teachings of the Old Testament, truly believing sparing the rod would spoil the child. His punishments were swift, but left no lasting effects. The trial revealed a happy home, and a normal, if not unremarkable life. She earned a degree, started a career, made her own money, and was very proud to be in complete control of her life. She would meet her husband two years later, knowing before they married, there would be problems with his unparalleled need to control.
But something more powerful than reason and far stronger than her faith, compelled her to move forward and become her husband’s mate. Love He moved her into the mountains, taught her how to hunt, treated her ever so beautifully, forcing her to fall deeper into his charms, then initiating his game of breaking her tender heart.
Erika, had for some time, knew this day would come. Several days and sometimes weeks of bliss, would cushion the rounds of abuse. But, this time was different. Still catching her breath from the love they just made, he grabbed her by the throat, drug her out of bed, and from somewhere behind his back, he produced a gun, which he shoved against her head. There was no more fight left in her, in trying to hide love. There were words coming from her abusers mouth, but she heard none of them, she would later tell the judge. She could remember staring at her husband, and thinking to herself, she would always love him, but she would learn to love herself.
She had long ago stop pretending that she did not know the reason why she stayed. For her, it was the intense power of love’s draw, that made her endure hell, day after day. And while the pleadings of her parents, the rounds of therapy recommended by friends, could not change the way she felt about him, it did change the way she felt about herself.
Unbeknown to her husband, however, she had come to love herself far more, than she could ever love him. He did not shoot her, but she was convinced that one day he would. He pulled the gun away from her head, laughed, before arrogantly casting her and the gun aside. He then mistakenly turned his back and casually walked away.
epilogue: Why did she do it? For the love of Erika Parker
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline