• Ilan Cooley

how women die

Updated: 5 days ago

"I know how women die, because if I had landed differently, I would have died. I would have died, and then been left in a ditch, or a field, or somewhere equally terrible."

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I know how women die.

That last word is a shocker, I know. It is for me too. I wish I didn’t know, but I do. I am clearly not dead, but I could have been. The kind of dead that lands you in a ditch, or a field, or somewhere equally terrible. Not that there is a good place to be left when you die.

I know how women die, and not one thing about the day I learned it stands out, except I picked up his favourite Korean take-out. I bet he doesn’t remember that day at all. I bet it never crosses his mind. He didn’t wake up that day thinking he could, or would. I bet he would still say he could never, and would never, but I know.

He got mad for a reason I don’t recall. There was yelling and smashed plates. A sharp escalation turned to explosive rage. I stood up for myself. I stood too close. He pushed me. He pushed me hard enough that I fell. I fell swiftly backwards. I tripped on the shoes on the mat by the door.

Neither my head, nor my neck broke my fall. Only inches spared me striking the counter, or the door. My left hand broke my fall. I know how women die, because if I had landed differently, I would have died. I would have died, and then been left in a ditch, or a field, or somewhere equally terrible.

My finger was fractured. A consolation prize for my lucky landing. I got an x-ray to prove it to him, thinking he would say, “I’m sorry.” But he did not, because he was not.

He was incapable of remorse. People like him are chaos creators. To them, calm feels abnormal. It feels bad. They expertly conceal the dangerous tension they need to survive. Like the anchor on an opposing tug-of-war team, they manage the slack in the rope, controlling it until the precise moment they make you tumble. Chaos is their oxygen. In moments of calm, they feel the most suffocated. Their desperate gasp for life is the rage that ignites their fire. Being caught in the ensuing inferno can be deadly.

He didn’t push me again, ever. I was never within arm’s reach when his rage erupted. I know how women die, and I learned how not to be one of them. His fury did not subside, in fact it escalated and became more frequent. I learned not to pick up the rope. It made him angrier to not have an adversary. Every time it happened, I took another step back. Eventually I walked away for good.

Someone told me I should have known better; that I should have seen him for what he was. I disagree. Blaming a kind, sensitive and caring woman who does not realize someone is capable of killing them is the same as saying a woman is at fault for being raped because of what she was wearing. It is never okay to blame the victim.

Statistically, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.

Most of you will say, I never knew. To that I say, you never do.

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