Trigger warning for detailed descriptions of an incident of domestic violence and strongly misogynistic language.
This morning, I was woken up by an obnoxiously loud television. In the past 48 hours, I have spent half that time in bed and still haven’t slept a full 8. I am living in a nightmare and can’t calm myself down enough to stay asleep for longer than an hour at a time.
But back to yesterday night, because today’s events started then. I was at home when I heard someone come to the door. It sounded like they were struggling to get their key in the door, so I opened it for them, and it was my flatmate Mark’s teenage daughter. She had brought a boyfriend with her. When Mark didn’t come up the stairs, I assumed she wasn’t expected, and knew not to ask questions. I’ve only been living here six weeks.
As Mark had just been jumped on the weekend, and his face was still swollen and covered in bruises, I warned his daughter as she approached the door to enter the basement and tell him she was here. I told her he had been jumped by about 16 men, they fucked him up, and his face is really paying for it. She and her boyfriend asked me what happened, and all I said was that the other flatmate was there, and if either of them want to say what happened, it’s up to them. She went down to the basement for just a couple minutes, and came back upstairs with her hands full of junk food. I brought her some popcorn I made too.
A couple hours later, Mark still hadn’t emerged from the basement. The other flatmate wasn’t home. I asked the two teens in the living room if they’re hungry, and after making myself a meal, offered to share. They asked for all of it and I conceded. Clearly, they were hungry. I didn’t need to eat as much as they did. I cleaned up most of my dishes and asked them if they wanted to watch a movie with me.
Another couple hours later, and the teens were asleep in each others’ arms on the couch. Mark finally emerged from the basement and immediately started getting agitated about the pot, glass container, and cutting board I hadn’t washed. I told him that was what was left that I hadn’t washed yet. He started being especially condescending and patronizing. I told him I’d be happy to clean it up but if he wants to blow a fit instead, fine by me. I closed my door and waited for him to leave the kitchen. I cleaned everything else before trying to calm myself down again and rest.
The television this morning. It sounded like a car crashing, and then someone crying out in agony, and it was so loud, it may as well have actually been happening on the other side of the wall. I tried to turn my music up to at least provide some balance and something to focus on as I attempted to drift off again. I spent another five hours laying there awake, on the floor (because I had recently been homeless). That’s when the yelling started. Mark’s teenage daughter went into the basement because she was upset that the other flatmate was smoking pot in the living room with her boyfriend. Mark got extremely upset, and started yelling and swearing at the other flatmate as soon as his teenage daughter left. I wrote a note out for her, half-expecting her to just be hiding in the basement while doors were repeatedly slammed:
You have a right to set your own boundaries and demand respect for them.
You have a right to act upon whichever risks you will and will not tolerate.
You have a right to give or withhold consent.
You have a right to respect from others as well as self-respect.
While other people have a right to disagree, you have a right to walk away from them.
Then they wound down just enough to change the topic. The other flatmate asked him if he’s having a bad day, and he started mumbling. Then he started talking about how his daughter is fighting her Mum and she ran into a pot dealer on the street last night on the way here. Within moments, he was saying that all my shit was “all over the kitchen” and that this is becoming a daily occurrence (for the record, this is simply inaccurate). I stood up, put on some clothes, and opened my door. I took two steps out and said “I’ve just got to ask you two things: first, is your daughter still here, listening to you talk like that; and second, are you aware I’m not deaf and can hear you talking about me?”
Mark became enraged. He told me she’s gone and then immediately started yelling at me about how I’m such a fucking mess and he just has to tell me to “clean [my] shit up”. I said it was one pot, a glass container, and a cutting board, and I cleaned it. I told him not to talk to me like that. He started picking up dishes and coming at me, stomping back into the kitchen and smearing his finger across the stove, shouting “What the fuck is this?” I repeated again (at this point shouting just to be heard), don’t fucking talk to me like that. He started walking right up to my face, within an inch, waving his hands in my face. At first, I didn’t budge. But then I’d had enough.
While spittle was coming out of his mouth as he shouted at me, he started waving his hands in my face. I told him to get his fucking hands out of my face and he continued his back and forth stomping around, slamming doors, and continuing to yell at me. I continued to insist that he not talk to me like this, and that it was one fucking pot. He opened the kitchen door again and started walking up to my face again. He told me “You’re out of here” and I reminded him (yet again) that I have a legal right to be here until January 1st. I went back to my room and he kept fucking yelling. Yelling about how I’m “out of here”. Yelling and swearing about how I’m such a fucking mess. I wasn’t going to take this from him again. I stepped back out of my room and took two steps forward.
He immediately got in my face again, yelling, swearing, spit flying off his lips. He started waving his hands in my face, and I grabbed his hand and said “GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OUT OF MY FACE.” He moved his hands away, and my thumb grazed his cheekbone. I told him don’t talk to me like that and don’t put your fucking hands in my face like that. He pointed where on his face I touched him. I told him he put his fucking hands in my face. We pushed each other away. I told him “You’re fucking welcome, I fed your kids last night” as he stomped back into the kitchen to slam the door in my face again. That’s when I saw the other flatmate’s hand lower, holding a can of beer. His back was against the cupboards, but he was right there. Mark came back at me and literally sprayed my entire face with his spit and called me an ignorant cunt. I shoved him and told him to get the fuck out of my face. Then he reached out and grabbed my neck, turned me against a wall and squeezed as I tried to pry his hand off my neck.
As soon as he let go, I slammed the door of my bedroom and phoned 9-1-1. I tried as hard as I could to keep my shit cool with the emergency dispatch operator while I waited for RCMP to show up. She told me two cars were coming, and where on the map they were. She told me she would stay on the phone with me until they were inside the house, and she did just that. While we were waiting, I could hear Mark winding himself up again, for Round Three, again over the other flatmate smoking pot in front of his teenage daughter. Then it was how he wasn’t going to have any more roommates, and how he’s leaving this house. When they arrived here, the operator dismissed herself and Mark said “Oh, that’s fuckin’ great. Calling the cops on me.” As if he didn’t expect anything would come of trying to strangle me while pinning me against a wall.
I heard the other flatmate tell the RCMP that I’m “transgender” while giving his statement. I hadn’t said anything about it myself (this time) because it wasn’t relevant. I said “That’s great, Dave. That’s real fucking great.” They walked a couple more feet away and kept their voices down.
They asked me repeatedly what I want them to do. I asked if he has clearly committed some sort of assault or something. I said I would press charges, and they asked if I would attend court hearings. “Yes I would, actually,” I said. They finally started asking about my statement multiple times before recording it. They asked me questions about which hand he used. They asked me about his face, and I told them what I know happened. They explained to me that they are going to lay charges but it’s up to the Crown whether or not this is pursued any further. They asked me why my entire chest was bright red, and they took six photos of my neck. I showed them where I tried to pry his hand off me. I haven’t looked in the mirror, but they could still see distinct impressions left by his fingers as they were taking the photos, and I could still feel it as I was writing this. About a half hour had passed between the moment he grabbed me and when they were taking photos.
They asked me what specifically he was saying when he was grabbing my neck, and I said I can’t honestly remember. I was starting to dissociate when he grabbed me, and at that point, all I could focus on was getting that fucking hand off my throat.
I honestly didn’t remember the pushing (either doing it myself or being pushed back) until after the RCMP said that Mark told them about it. I said “How much weight do you think I can throw around?” as I shivered in the cold without a jacket or even sleeves on my arms. I told them Mark goes weekly to Thai boxing, and last time he started yelling, I didn’t say a word or come out of my room, and literally just listened as he wound himself up until he was whirling out of orbit with anger. They told me that pressing assault charges isn’t about who started it — it’s about who gave more than they got. I told them that I didn’t even call him names, and that all I wanted was a place to sleep and a basic level of respect. That at least if you’re going to yell at me, it should be about more than a fucking rice pot. I told them I’ve known people like this all my life, and that this is exactly like my Dad.
I watched them take him out of the house in handcuffs, and he was so calm and docile, it just reminded me even more of my Dad’s favourite two faces. I said it’s remarkable how he can keep his shit cool in front of a bunch of men, but not me. I looked down at my body. I weigh 140 lbs and have barely been eating over the past month. But I’m not fucking 12 any more.
Update: Charges against Mark have been recommended. He has been given conditions to not have direct or indirect contact with me until he faces a hearing on January 8th (unless the Crown insists despite recommendations to press charges, that it won’t be pursuing the matter). He has also been removed from the residence and is not permitted to return until I leave (which is either January 1st or sooner).
After RCMP left, the other flatmate asked me what “all that” was as soon as I finally came back inside. I told him “You saw everything. I’m not saying anything else about it.” I closed my door and overheard him telling someone on the phone that I had Mark arrested. He knocked on my door and asked me if he has to worry about any of his shit going missing. He opened the door as I said “What? What am I going to do with it?” He said “Well I don’t know. This isn’t my life, you know.” I said “You think it’s mine?”
He said “Why can’t you sleep?” I told him I have trauma. “What kind?” he said. “An entire lifetime of shit like this.” He accused me of being on meth. I said “Where exactly do you think I’m going to get it?”
He told me “Oh, poor Mark, being arrested.” I said “Yeah, poor fucking Mark. He fucking tried to strangle me.” He said he didn’t see it (never mind how everyone who looked at my neck from any angle could see it). I said I know he didn’t see it, that’s why I didn’t want to talk about it, and I slammed my door shut again. He told me “Play tough guy with somebody else, bitch.” I shouted at him to shut the fuck up. And then he was gone.
Yeah. Poor fucking Mark for spraying my entire face with his spit while he’s going apeshit over a few fucking dishes not getting cleaned for a whopping two hours last night.
Poor fucking Mark for getting right up in my face, waving his hands in my face, pushing me, grabbing my neck, and pinning me against a wall while he squeezes with his hand still around my throat.
Poor, poor fucking Mark.
This is exactly what happened when I was 11 years old. My Dad did it to my oldest sister. She ran away, and he manipulated the cops to force her to come back home, even though she was legally old enough to emancipate herself and refuse to go back. Social services came by the next day, and we were interviewed all together about what was happening in that house. None of us could say anything in front of Dad. Social services left, and that’s the last thing I remember for an entire year of my life at that time, during which my oldest sister was still living with us until we moved to a new city after she left. I never thought I would have to face this again.
My Dad played victim too, and continues to do so even now, nearly 20 years later. My family has never recovered, as my oldest sister never offered him the apology he demanded, and hasn’t uttered a word to him (or even shared a physical space with him) in all that time. My Mum took his side and maintains her standpoint on it. She denies that he was ever abusive, and as of a year ago (when he was right in front of me, on the verge of tears, not speaking, for an hour and a half), I deny her and the rest of my family a relationship with me.