She ran with fear, purpose, and no shoes on her feet that night. She choked as she struggled not to swallow the blood that cascaded from the wound on her face down to her bruised neck and battered arms. She ran, fueled by the terror and desperation that had been confined in her soul, holding a baby and dragging a screaming toddler hoping to escape her executioner. She ran with a knife in her pocket. The same knife she used to fend him off one last time. The same knife he used to slice her face branding her with brutality and finality.
She went to the authorities, but they failed to protect her, and to avoid being murdered by her at- home sicario, she had to leave the country for a shelter in Mexico. She often wonders whatever happened with her dreams of having a happy marriage. They slowly evaporated in a cloud of repeated patterns of abuse. She longed for her once fearless persona who aspired to do hair and learn cosmetology, but it was just talk amongst dreamy teenagers living in La Lopez Arellano who felt the sky was the limit. Her dreams fizzled daily when she got home to a mother who perpetuated the submissive education and to a papa borracho who numbed his rage and failures with booze and violence. She didn’t tell them about the lecherous cousin who fondled her, paralyzing her with shame and impotence. She buried herself under the blanket of low self-esteem hoping the images of the abuse would leave her memory; instead, she slowly succumbed to the cancer that is a culture of machismo and violence.
She dropped out of school and got a job in the maquila. Soon, she started frequenting los bailes and that’s where she met him. He was drunk and high like the rest of the men in her life. She recalled how it all started with a shove. Soon after, she became pregnant and the violent episodes became severe and constant.
He beat her when the sun shined, because the Olimpia lost, or because he was enraged, fueled by a drug binge. Her body still aches, not due to old age, she is only twenty-five, but as a painful reminder of the side effects of her past life. The old bastard of her swollen ankle is a testimony of that time he fractured it with a baseball bat. “Pa que no te escapes gran puta,” he said, slurring his words to the rhythm of his habitual drunkenness. Each crease on her face became a memory of the cruelty endured at the merciless hands of the man who was supposed to protect her.
Cara cortada they called her at the shelter. She beared a scar on her right cheek as deep as her emotional wounds. But even at the shelter, surrounded by nice comforting voices and kind souls, she remains lost in her sorrow, ashamed and uncertain of a future she fears. Her dreams are invisible and her soul is mute. No one cares about her giant worm-like varicose veins popping on her legs or that her beauty left her suddenly. She ceased to exist and matter and she believes it happened the day she was born a woman in Honduras, a country where according to reports by feminist organizations, every 17 hours a woman is murdered and each year there are 20,000 cases of domestic abuse.
She wonders how to kill the seed that germinates into what becomes an abuser. In the meantime, she counts her blessing. She is alive, at least for now.