You Can See It In His Eyes

I have to admit, I have a very hard time reading some of the stories that we post on this site.

These stories are so important to share. They are therapeutic for the writer on so many levels. They help friends and families and strangers to understand what is happening in our own neighbourhoods, classrooms, workplaces, and transit systems. Perpetrators need to hear about and understand the havoc the have wreaked.

But my bleeding heart just can’t take it some days. I see bits and pieces of my own experiences in each story and I feel so awful that someone else has felt the same way. I am heartbroken by each and every submission.

As I get braver and really dig in to these stories, I’m noticing a common theme.
You can see it in his eyes.

So many people have written this same line. It is a part of their story. It is a part of my story.

The first time I saw it in his eyes it was just a flash right before he smashed his whiskey glass on the ground. He told me that sometimes it feels good to destroy something beautiful. (At the time I didn’t know the whiskey glass was a metaphor for me.)
I saw it again before he pushed me into the mirror. And again and again so many times that night.
The look.

Anyone who has been in my situation will understand it. The best way I can describe it is the look you get right before he pushes you down the stairs. 

If you haven’t been in this situation, I don’t know how to articulate it for you but I’m going to try.
A flip switches. You were laughing and joking a second ago, but all you see now is violence. It’s arrogance, control, a dangerous power trip. He knows he could kill you right now and it makes him feel powerful. He is carefully considering his plan of attack, and you have an incredibly small window of time to derail it.

Time’s up, the rational part of his brain shuts off and there’s a monster behind the controls. The look bores into your soul. It’s a ball of fire &  red hot pain. It’s focused, seething, angry. So angry, where does all the rage come from? And what could I possibly have done to be the target of such rage?

And then after he does whatever it is he does to you, it’s gone. The look disappears and it makes you wonder if you even saw it or if you just imagined it. He asks if you’re hungry, do you need a drink? He wants to cuddle, or asks where you fall in your family’s birth order. You flinch when he tries to stroke your arm, and he says “oh, come on, I was only joking”

The look in his eyes will haunt me for the rest of my life. But it’s not just him. I have seen the look in many people’s eyes. I’ve seen it on a date, I’ve seen it at restaurants and in movies. It sends a cold chill down my spine, and sometimes it makes me puke.
At least I know what it looks like now. At least I know to run in the other direction when I see it. I’ve walked away from customers, stepped out of meetings, ducked into public bathrooms, and fled from taxis and Starbucks lines without so much as a look back.

I’m so thankful I’ve learned to trust my gut.. (This statement is in no way meant to come across as victim blaming. There is no possible way to prevent a random act of violence. It is 100% the perpetrator’s decision and fault. I am just noting that in my experience, when I see that look I know it’s time to run. I feel that trusting my gut has saved me from some bad situations, and the one time I didn’t trust my gut, I nearly died.) I may look like a crazy person running and ducking away from strangers, but at this point I’m not too concerned about what strangers think of me.
Cheers from another sleepless night,

PS my inbox is always open. If you want to share your story or just chat please get in touch via email –

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Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're I spent 2 years struggling with PTSD and panic attacks following a violent attack. I want to use my experience and my voice to raise support for others. I desperately want to make the world a safer place for girls and women, especially my two little sisters. Keep talking, Keep sharing. When You're Ready, I'll be here.



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