When I found myself as the victim within an abusive relationship, one that was marred by queerness, blackness, and a profoundly turbulent love resonating between the two of us, I was stunned into submission. [TW/CW:
descriptions of emotional abuse and physical violence.] Last month while sitting in a smoke lounge on the westside of Atlanta, a friend leaned over to speak directly into my left ear, trying to whisper under the music. “Speak in my other ear, I’m partially deaf in that ear,” I said, as I have to often. “Wait, really? I didn’t know that.” She responded. “Why are you deaf in that ear?” Such a simple question leads me to the painfully uncomfortable conversation, by which I spend several minutes thinking to myself how to tell her, or even if I should tell her, that I am deaf because I used to date a super villain. And he beat the shit out of me. The first time it happened, he left my right cheek with a red tint over brown skin; an awkward silence dwelt within our kitchen in that moment. He no longer looked quite like an honest man, especially the man I’d fallen in love with, rather he resembled one of the grotesque villains I’d watch my favorite cartoon characters fight when I was a child, The Joker maybe. “Why did you embarrass me in front of my friends?” he would say, then a push, one strong enough to knock me off my balance and onto my knees. “I didn’t mean to,” I’d reply, not even remembering what I did wrong in the first place. I would say whatever to make the moments when the super villain was in my kitchen stop, or at least slow down. I thought I was seeing past it, always telling myself it was my fault, blaming myself for the speed and the force with which I was hit. The thoughts that raced through my mind this time were fleeting embarrassments and angering confusions that left our kitchen in an awkward silence for a moment: this wasn’t normal, this doesn’t happen to our kind; these types of violences are surely rare for us, and I’m now feeling as if I am a part of an anomaly within a sea of already demonized love. Here I was months deep into a love which was once all power and puff, now saying and doing whatever I could to defuse a situation I thought I was to blame for. When I found myself as the victim within an abusive relationship, one that was marred by queerness, blackness, and a profoundly turbulent love resonating between the two of us, I was stunned into submission. The person whom I was giving so much to, and borrowing so much from, became the very person who made a mess of me; the one who swore he wanted to build a nest up high with me began clipping my wings.