Domestic violence is a smiling woman

Domestic violence is a smiling woman. It is the attorney in crisp business suit and black pumps. It is the beautiful blonde whose earrings match her eyes.

Domestic violence is a cop. She is a professor. She is a writer. She works for the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

Domestic violence is large and she’s small and she’s tall and she’s short.

She is the woman who collects herself moments after being shoved to the ground, takes a deep breath, pastes a smile on her bruised face and pours cereal for her babies. She is not the hunched woman you see in the ads in black silhouette, crying in a corner.

Domestic violence is a smiling woman.

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She is the beloved high school teacher whose students adore her. She is your cheerful co-worker who offers to get coffee. She is the saleswoman at Macy’s, the teenager at the DMV, the paramedic who soothes your wailing child in the ambulance.​ She is a celebrity singer. A ballerina. An athlete’s wife.

Domestic violence is a smiling woman.

She is diamonds and fur, and she’s t-shirt and jeans.

She is moments before he hits her for the very first time.

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She is the woman who loses thirty pounds when she feels like her heart and her insides have been ripped out of her body, and smiles in thanks as they marvel in envy at her weight loss.

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Domestic violence is a thousand-dollar wig he has urinated on in your bathtub.

Domestic violence is ripping off your wig after way too much time, exposing your hair that’s been his for the past six years (his, only his, the kallah teacher said), just so you can feel like something is yours.

Domestic violence is a wedding ring and a nose ring and red-hot anger.

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It is swinging in the park with your children as his girlfriend’s clothes are swinging from your chandelier.

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It is a manicure after his fingers have been wrapped around your neck.

It is the beach after his words have washed all over you.

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It is the park and the zoo and the birthday party he refuses to go to, the amusement park rides after he’s spun you around and around and around and around.

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It is the family who knows nothing.

The friends who know nothing.

The whole fucking world who knows absolutely nothing.

Domestic violence is Purim as the saddest day of the year.

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Domestic violence is terror on a 7-hour car ride to Canada, with no one but him and a hungry, screaming baby who tries to climb out of her car seat and into her mother’s arms while he refuses to take over and let her breastfeed. Domestic violence is a smile for the neighbors as soon as she exits the car back home in Brooklyn.

Domestic violence is loud. She is soft. She is gentle. She is fire. She is passion. She is passion with dead eyes. She is fire with no spark.

Domestic violence is a smiling woman.

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She is sexy. And she’s blind. She is intelligence who feels stupid, she is beauty who doesn’t know it.

Domestic violence is your sister. Your mother. Your next-door neighbor. It does not discriminate between color or age or weight or intelligence.

Domestic violence, I want you to know, is a smiling woman.

About the Author
Shaindy Urman is a freelance writer and full-time mom living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in Tablet, The Forward, Kveller, and Romper.