I wish I would have done more for you.
I didn't even ask your name.
In September of 2014, I was grocery shopping at Walmart one evening with my then boyfriend. It was a normal thing for us. Usually every other day we'd head to the store to pick up some things for dinner or the apartment, but this particular shopping trip changed my life and became one of the single biggest regrets I had hoped to never have.
We were walking down the produce section when I heard him screaming.
It took me a moment to realize where all the yelling was coming from, but then I saw you...you had your head down, watching your own feet as you walked in front of him.
I'll never know what caused him to scream like that, but it's a sound that's been permanently recorded into my memory.
He called you a bitch, he told you to go to hell and then he shoved you as hard as he could, sending you tumbling forward bracing for the ground.
And all I did was stand there and stare.
You see, I've never been one to keep quiet. Normally I will sound off at the mouth first and think later.
But nothing came out.
My feet were glued to the ground.
I was 32 weeks pregnant at the time, the only move I made was to place my arm around my stomach, almost like shielding the baby girl growing in my stomach.
My mind was moving a mile a minute. My brain was demanding me to scream at him, to yell for help.
But nothing came out.
My first instinct was to jump in front of you, to protect you, but my second instinct to protect the life in my tummy won.
I'm so sorry.
After he shoved you, he kept screaming cuss words and left the building while you walked deeper into it. Surely you were trying to distance yourself from the scene that had just happened. Only then did I let go of my boyfriend's arm in an attempt to go look for you. I just wanted to see if you were okay, if you were hurt or if you needed help.
I looked everywhere I thought you could have gone in the 30 seconds it took for him to leave the building and for you to walk away. Believe me when I say I was desperate to find you, but I couldn't. Until we were in the check-out line, and I spotted you two lanes over with a gallon of milk.
I managed to stop you on our way out, you said you were fine and that he was just drunk.
My heart ached for you.
I insisted the security officer escort you to your car, and after repeatedly telling me you would be okay you finally agreed. So we parted ways, to never see each other again.
I don't tell this story often. It's something that makes me angry at my own self for not doing more. I wanted to scream when he put his hands on you, I wanted to put myself between the two of you so you knew you weren't alone.
I did neither of those things, and I'll regret it for the rest of my life.
I've cried for you dozens of times. I had never witnessed abuse before. It was like watching that tv show "What Would You Do?" and thinking you'd have a game plan for any horrible situation, but when the moment comes forgetting everything you'd ever learned.
At times it eats at me to think about that night. Did you go home to him only to be hurt even worse?
How often does he hurt you?
Do you have babies of your own, and are they abused too?
Unfortunately, those are things that never leave my mind.
You see, although I have never been abused, witnessing your situation has altered my life forever. I still think about you. I still pray for you.
I hope more than anything you've gotten away from that man and that nightmare. If I could go back I would have asked your name, I would have given you my phone number, I would have done more for you than I did.
I hope you can forgive me.
If you or someone you know is being abused, please don't be afraid to reach out for help. You are not alone. You are loved, and there is a better life waiting for you.