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Fear and Being Female: Part Two

Written By: Hanna Wenter


TW: Domestic violence



Things turned for the worst with threats of violence and suicide. He was expelled and banned from campus, and I cut off communication and sought protection from campus officials. I remember the meeting with the dorm administrators where I was given two options. I could go nowhere outside of my hall alone, not even to do laundry and certainly not to get food. Or, I could move into one of the secret dorms where I couldn't tell anyone my location and where he couldn't find me—apparently, those exist at the ready for situations like mine, where a young man decides that a young woman should be afraid or should be his property or should feel worthless or should die. I chose the former. The school said it was for my protection but, you see, I had become such a liability after receiving explicitly violent threats that they were forced to take some action.


I wish I could say I felt supported, but the main thing I remember feeling was a burden. A burden to the administrators who had to have said meeting with me. A burden to the girls in my hall who had to take extra precautions with their keys and their comings and goings. A burden to all the students in my building who had to attend a mandatory meeting to discuss door security, for which everyone knew the reason and weren’t even discreet with their annoyed glances.


Even though this terror was so new to me, it felt like old news to everyone else, like a collective eye roll, like ”Oh, so YOU are the girl that got involved with the abusive guy and now it has to be all of our problems.”

Leading up to those final decisions and meetings, there was one person who never treated me like a burden: a campus officer. The one who answered the call the night it got really bad. The last night, essentially, or the night before the first day, I guess you could say. It was the night he got into my building and wrote horrible things about me in permanent marker on every door in my hall. The night he lit a hat I had given him on fire and hung it on my doorknob, smoldering. The night he pounded on the door, rattled the knob, claimed that no door could stop him, even posed as a helpful friend, and knocked politely before covering the peephole. That night he left me over a dozen voicemails describing how he would kill me, kill himself, kill us both.


Yes, the officer who came that night was kind to me. He hugged my shoulders to try to ground me as I stood shaking, stammering, apologizing for the trouble. He took notes and, eyes wide, listened to the voicemail that promised me in an unfaltering voice, "The last thing you see will be my smiling face as I slit your throat from ear to ear."


 

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