Editor’s Note: October was Domestic Violence Awareness month, but domestic violence is a reality for many people during every month of the year.  If you or anyone you know is experiencing a violent living situation or relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror getting ready for work. I had an eyeliner pencil in my hand. I had been by myself for a few days, which didn’t bother me at this point in our relationship. If I was alone it meant I didn’t have to deal with her. When she returned, though, the repercussions would begin.

She was standing next to me, threatening me as usual, coming off of a bender, yelling, pissed off about something. I looked over at her and then back in the mirror, trying not to encourage the fight or argument. I just wanted to get to work and be done with this and maybe she would pass out or leave again. At this point, her leaving was my only solace and I knew it was going to happen, I just had to be patient.

As I started to put the eyeliner on, a swift left hook came right to my face and the impact forced me back to the wall where the towel hanger was. My head smashed against the hanger and I slid to the floor. Shocked. Where had my eyeliner gone? I looked up and she was standing over me. My fate was sealed, I was most definitely about to get a beat down. Instead, she started to back away, slowly. Or maybe everything was slow motion at this point. I can’t remember. I don’t recall feeling the pain either. I know I focused on where my eyeliner had gone, I thought maybe it was stabbed into my face, luckily it wasn’t.

Seconds passed, then suddenly I felt the warmth on my face, as soon as I noticed it, it began to gush out of my nose. I started screaming and crying and trying to catch all the blood that was expelling from my nose, my mouth, and ultimately my eyes. I had never had so much blood spill from my face before and it scared me. I was crawling around in my blood, trying to get my footing. I was begging her for help. She just watched from the doorway and backed away when I got too close.

“Once we get our story straight, I will help you,” she said. I was hysterical. I didn’t give a shit what the story was, I just wanted the blood to stop gushing from my face. I was choking on my blood and I could barely see through the tears and the clouds that were in my eyes from getting hit and then hitting the back of my head. Finally, she handed me a towel and told me to clean up and then we could go to the hospital. She had fractured my nose right between my eyes.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first or last time a situation like that happened but I have since forgotten, or have tried to forget, that whole situation. It seems unreal, but there are blocks of that time of my life where I really don’t recall anything that happened and when it does come back it’s only small increments of memory. Looking back, I am so surprised how naive I was and how I let fear rule my actions. I was lost in my own head. I was torn between not wanting to lose all of my stuff and start over, and the fear of her finding me after I left. I was brainwashed into thinking this was okay, that this situation was normal. Even though I knew that it wasn’t.

I don’t talk about this piece of my past often and this time in my life still holds a lot of perceived regrets and poor decisions. I still try to figure out why? What was I thinking? Why did I waste so much time? Why was I so scared? I also get a lot of skepticism about being in an abusive lesbian relationship. Like – why wouldn’t I fight back I was a girl too? Or how could you be scared of someone so close to your equal? I mean, she wasn’t strong like a man, right? I wonder too, how I could have gotten into my head so much during this time. Being in an abusive lesbian relationship isn’t that uncommon, society just tends to focus on heterosexual relationships more.

According to NCADV.org, “43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women.”

What is important to remember is that all relationships can fall victim to abuse. Many stories from abusive relationships are similar or share common aspects. Domestic violence situations are scary, no matter your sexual orientation and fear dictates the actions you take. This means that you may make ill decisions because of the fear you feel. For example, in an abusive situation, you could decide to stay and be abused because you are too scared to leave or do anything actionable about it.

Leaving is still an option though, and while my situation allowed me to get away, it was still very much an escape. I felt like no one could protect me or help me, and I felt lost in fear. Even writing this, after so much time has passed, I still feel uneasy and nervous. Sharing a piece of my past makes me feel vulnerable and stupid, even though what happened to me was not my fault.

Americanbar.org offers a guide to your rights as an LGBTQ member. It is important to know that you have rights just like any other battered person. For more resources to help you before and after a domestic violence situation, visit VAWnet.org.