Acid Attack: A Victim Refuses to Take It Lying Down
I was never the most handsome person in the world and I certainly never aspired to be a model or something of the sort. However, I was a normal young man. My troubles started when I met and fell in love with Gary. He was everything to me and the most charming man you could ever meet. I was flattered that he seemed to go out of his way to cater to my every whim. I do not have too many needs so in hindsight it did not really take him much effort to win me over. What I did not realize at the time was the fact that I was making probably one of the worst decisions of my lifetime.
The scars remain with me today. Painful scars but ones which I am trying to heal from. I am not just talking about how there are still telltale signs of the scars. It is the inner demons and fears that are the most difficult to get rid of. I have recurring nightmares of my time with Gary but they have reduced a lot since I started therapy because of the acid attack. I also have some kind of satisfaction that he is at least paying for every single treatment I am going through. That is the least that he could do after what he put me through. I keep telling my story to anyone that I meet because I think it is therapeutic for me. I also want to warn those who are in potentially abusive relationships that it only gets worse. You can’t change an abuser.
Acid Attack, A Split Personality, Perhaps?
Because Gary was so good when he was good, I was able to raise my tolerance level to areas which I now consider to be absurd. He would beat me black and blue at 7 pm then make wild passionate love to me at midnight before freezing me out the next day. Yes…I know, it sounds pathetic but I went through it. This was the same man but he could go through such changes in a matter of hours that I could not keep up. When he was beating me, I was screaming and begging. My resolve was to get out of that house the moment he let me go. He would then sabotage that plan by immediately nursing me. This brute had the gentlest hands when he wanted to be gentle.
As I recovered (a mixture of pills, soup, dressings and begging for forgiveness) he would then gradually start to seduce him. I was madly, madly in love with Gary. It was a disease, an addiction that I could not let go. In fact, even when I was suing him in court, he used to try to pop in and seduce me but I had this lawyer that always brought me back to firm ground after Gary had left. The case went ahead as planned even if Gary was desperately trying to get back with me. I had been warned that this could jeopardize the case but Gary had a hold on me at a time. It took me months of therapy to finally say enough is enough. Now, I just pass by when I see Gary. He means nothing to me apart from the regular installments he has to make in order to support my care.
Anyway; back to my crazy life with him. After hours of painstakingly reviving me, we would make passionate love. It was cathartic. I somehow forgot the pain in those moments. He would promise that he would never touch me again. He used to call it “the sickness”. There were times when he would boldly claim that his violence was an act of intense love since he could not imagine being without me. He told me I was his life and that he would kill himself if I ever left. I always used to wonder how someone can be so cruel to another person that they allegedly love so much. It was such a puzzling existence, living with Gary. He was a complex and very disturbed man.
Then the next day he would be silent. He would say nothing, not respond and not ask questions. I would feel puzzled and guilty, almost as if I had done something wrong. My therapist later told me that this was his way of bulldozing me into begging him for forgiveness. In that way, I would feel as if the entire episode was brought on by my own behavior. That is how abusers keep their victims in chains. You just feel as if it is your fault and that there is nothing you can do about it apart from meekly accepting your fate. The cycle went on and on until the final straw.
I Arrive at My Breaking Point
This time he really beat me bad. I could hardly walk and was certainly not going to respond to his advances. His attempts to nurse me were wholly inadequate. In the end he had to call in the emergency services. I remember the look of the paramedic when he first saw me. It was a terrified and surprised look. I asked for a mirror and they were hesitant. Eventually they brought it in after I insisted. I could not recognize my face. It was so swollen. I had this black patches like something out of a bad horror movie. This is what Gary had done to me and this time I was determined to end it. I told the nurse that I was going to leave him. She agreed and said it was probably for the best.
The police officers came in and wanted me to press charges. I said that would involve getting in Gary’s face and I did not want to be associated with him again. They gave me the contact of a liaison officer if I changed my mind. That was a catastrophic mistake on my part as I later learnt. When I was discharged, I went to my aunt’s place. Thing were back to normal. Gary had been looking for me but my aunt was far way in the rural areas where I knew he had never been.
One day I was coming from the library. I heard Gary’s voice calling me. I froze. Before I could turn around there was pain, terrible, terrible pain. I thought I was really going to die now. I was screaming. There were people around and some were even pouring water on me. I would rather not describe the extent of my injuries because they make me cry even today. It is sufficient to say that I was a mess. Gary had poured acid on me and it had run down from the face right up to my chest. The fleshed peeled and tore away from the body.
I had to undergo extensive and very expensive surgery to make me “human” again. I am not quite what I was; even though you have to look carefully to pick out the signs of my surgery. I have spent countless of hours in therapy trying to recover from what Gary did to me. He was charged and convicted of grievous bodily harm. My aunt was not satisfied. She wanted attempted murder but the prosecutor told us it was a non-starter. She was at least partly pleased by his 10-year sentence but we were horrified when he was let out after six years for “good behavior”.
Immediately after his conviction we went for a civil lawsuit and won exemplary damages. Gary did not have the cash so they auctioned his house and car. His parents also gave him some money. I got a lump sum in compensation and he was ordered to pay for all my medical bills. The money cannot really compensate me but at least I know that Gary paid in some way for his crimes….and they were crimes. I was brutally burnt by this crazy man. It is a wonder to me that he still walks these streets.
When he was released, I took out a restraining order. That put a stop to the hundreds of letters he had been writing from prison. I never opened one of them. As far as I am concerned, Gary is dead to me. The last time I saw him across the street, I just got on with my life. I was not even going to bother being frightened of him. I think I am a much stronger person now, emotionally at least. Of course I still recoil at the horror that he put me through but at least I know that I am a survivor of acid attack. I could beat the odds and did actually beat the odds. Gary needs to be locked up and treated for his insanity. In the beginning I used to blame myself for falling in love with such an animal. Later on, I realize that there were many people who were just like me. I am now actively involved in charities to support victims of acid attack. I am particularly concerned about the access that the public has to this dangerous chemical.