I told myself it wasn’t so bad. After he’d knocked me down, he never kicked me. He never broke bones, never did anything that needed medical attention. In eight years, he forgot discretion only twice. Then I had the black eyes, fat lip, swollen, discoloured face that the world could see. I hid inside, rang in sick, made carefree jokes about walking into cupboard doors.
But mostly he punched my upper arms. Often it had nothing much to do with anything I’d said or done. It was stress relief, when life hadn’t gone the way he thought it should. “Pete never allows for a stubbed toe, does he,” someone remarked when she’d witnessed the beginnings of a tantrum, controlled because people were there. I bought blouses with voluminous sleeves, because at those times my arms were too swollen to fit into ordinary sleeves.