Don’t Hit Me: a fragmented journey through domestic violence
Domestic violence is usually hidden and usually inexplicable to those who have not suffered it. Victims feel ashamed, powerless, and completely alone. Don’t Hit Me! is taken from the diary of the author, herself a victim of domestic abuse. The brief chapter titles – such as ‘Terrorist,’ ‘Oppressed,’ ‘Cruelty,’ ‘Cut,’ ‘Irony,’ ‘Dimmed,’ ‘Flee,’ and ‘Shattered Glass’ – give a small clue to the anguish the author endured during this period of her life; the book itself is full of pain, all the more horrific because you realize the few episodes captured here are but a small percentage of those endured.
You may wonder why she allows it to continue. Her abuser controls her, bullies her, insults, and humiliates her. But she feels powerless, and begins to blame herself and even to hate and despise herself (rather than her abuser). Glimpses of background pain and abuse also show through, helping you understand why it is hard for her to escape, even though she wants to leave, and knows she must leave. The abuse intensifies until she is sure she will be killed, if she doesn’t kill herself first.
The book is powerfully written. In one perfect juxtaposition, she drowns her fears in alcohol until the bars close and she has to return home, where “my lover awaits me, with clenched fists and gritted teeth.” This person, her most intimate partner, the one she should most be able to love and trust, is the one she most fears.
The prose is lyrical and descriptive, and incredibly personal and intimate. Other chapters are written in terse, blank verse, as if her emotions are tied tightly into narrow strands and she doesn’t dare let them escape. It is a hard book to read, because it is so emotionally disturbing, but important and courageous. This particular story is told by a survivor. However, many stories of this kind do not end so well. The author’s hope is that others in this situation will read this and realize they are not alone, that they, too, have the power to leave and that it will help them to escape as well.
|Vanessa de Largie
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