From Fear to Freedom: Triumphing Over Abuse & Difficult Relationships

“As soon as my feet touched the ground, I snatched up the garbage bag and raced toward the road. I knew that every second counted.” –Jocelyne Durand

This scene is worthy of the best thrillers. I made the mistake of telling my partner, Terry that a friend at work had gone to Spain to study Spanish. She had invited me along if I wanted to travel some of the way with her and I desperately wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. But seeing the panicked look on Terry’s face as I talked about Spain, I quickly thought better of it and dismissed the idea, to allay his concerns and suspicions.

However, ever since the time he had pulled out my hair when he dragged me across the floor (so much came out that I had to have it cut very short), I had continued to silently plan my escape. Part of me refused to be treated like that and I could no longer overlook his behavior. He was unhinged and I knew it.

To take care of myself and have some time to think, I had decided to accept the invitation to Spain to join my colleague for a while. She had given me a lovely invitation to come and visit for as long as I wished. My fellow office workers rallied together to help me. They had witnessed for themselves some of Terry’s more controlled outbursts and wanted me to get away. Women who join forces can move mountains.

The transportation manager of our company booked my flight and made the travel arrangements for me. Another colleague who lived nearby offered to let me sleep over the night before my flight. She was even willing to find suitcases for me and drive me to the airport if need be.

Now I just had to leave the house in one piece, without arousing Terry’s suspicions. He was extremely intuitive and sensing there was something fishy going on, he watched my every move. I was already keenly aware of his propensity for violence so I knew that if he discovered I was preparing to go, he would attack, beating me up and doing whatever he could to stop me from leaving.

But he was an intuitive and insightful man. No matter how nonchalant I tried to act, he became suspicious and more vigilant as the time for me to leave came closer. He had chewed his lips so much to repress his forebodings that they had scabs on them.

It was time to leave. I had to be strategic about it. To make him believe that everything was normal, I pretended to clean the house. I started picking up my clothes, some small items, some papers and personal items and put them all in a big green garbage bag that I stowed in the small room at the back of our house.

Acting as if I wanted to have a quiet moment to myself to relax, I went in the room and closed the door. Time was running out. It would only be a few moments before he came to see what I was up to. Without a second’s hesitation, I grabbed the garbage bag, opened the window and dropped it to the ground. Then, standing on the back of the sofa bed, I jumped through the window and dropped several feet to the ground.

As soon as my feet touched the ground, I snatched up the garbage bag and raced toward the road. I knew that every second counted. We lived in the middle of nowhere, next to a wooded area. I had not met any of our neighbours. I knew that any moment Terry would look in the room and realise I had slipped through his fingers. He would move heaven and earth to catch me.

Suddenly out of thin air, I saw a taxi coming slowly down the street. Still, for a split second I hesitated. What would people think? Then I quickly shook off that concern, thrust my arm out and waved to stop the vehicle. The driver pulled over and stopped. I threw the garbage bag in the back, saying, “Quickly, just go, go! I’ll give you the address in a bit.” The driver did exactly what he needed to do. He already had the whole situation figured out. I turned around to see Terry, seven or eight feet behind the car, furiously running and waving his arms wildly for the driver to stop.

People who have been in grave danger have often said they felt like they were in a fog and were moving in slow motion with time standing still. That is what happened for me; time stopped as soon as I jumped out of the window. I had entered a “zone.” To this day, I cannot explain how the taxi came out of nowhere in such an isolated area in such hopeless circumstances. It was unreal.

A protective force had revealed itself that evening, but I also had to trust my own instincts, use my common sense and jump in the taxi. When a door opens, take it!

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Jocelyne Durand