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I have a close friend. For some time he has been going through episodes of domestic conflict, often resulting in violence on him by his partner. He has no-one to talk to except me, and he feels so ashamed.
This is what he tells me it is like.

The Corner

Fdf5205c-8b5b-4da8-a6dc-63fe28d680a9by Billy J. Stewart02 Jul 2014

Head down, heavy and tired, brain in overdrive,
Imagining everything and nothing.
Mouth dry as paper,
Stomach sick to the pit of hell,
Aligned with heart in asynchronous response.
Skin shows the battle scars, colour drained and grey,
Yet a little blue, in patches.
Outside voices blur into distance.
Hand trembling, in auto-pilot, moves over mouth,
Clasping, squeezing in detached disfigurement,
Sliding up finger and thumb to meet at the bridge,
Checking the drifting senses,
Rubbing the lines of forehead, pulling them straight,
Drawing up over vacant eyes,
Seeing the fuzzy pink of half illuminated skin,
Too close to focus on the whorls of dermis.
Those friction ridges sit like a lunar surface raked.
These the same shaking hands that, in different days, held and stroked…
A sigh brings the white noised brain-freeze to conscious intrusion.
Oh here comes my old friend the blackness,
Sneaking in again, as if to mock and goad.
Tempting me with satanic visions of apocalypse.
Teasing, dangling,
Go on then big man, there is a way out.
Through a dreadful door.
Numbing, cauterising introspection, mulling, running the what-ifs,
Disbelief, denial, despair.
Putting on a face for strangers.
They must never know the secret landscape of wrecked graves.
Clock watching, counting the minutes passing til again…
Thinking, thinking, thinking, with no clarity.
How is it possible to do so much thinking…
…without a single thought to grasp..!?
Dreading the painful slipping away of time.
Every angle is covered, every aspect, every bolthole.
And there I await, in the corner.
Nowhere to go, but back into the cauldron.
Comes the evening, comes the inevitable.
Triggered by my pathetic stumble again.
It starts with shouting, then punching.
Words at first, then character and DNA.
Then the fists and kicks.
Yesterday’s apologies had no effect, evaporating like morning mist.
They have me in derision.
I apologise for getting in the way of your stabbing blows,
Of your biting words.
Of your spitting, crackling hatred.
Of your profane barbs and their impaling lunges to my heart.
Of your list of my defects and many sins.
God, but I have many sins, just to hear them out loud increases the shame.
I am guilty, I can’t argue with that.
It’s my fault, I cannot deny it.
I brought it all on myself, that much is obvious.
I am to blame, clear as daylight.
Its natural justice, in tragic beauty.
I deserve it, no doubt about it.
Karma, kicking in.
You can’t help it,
I forced you to do it.
Payback for my past, in such a perfect justice.
Retreating again to the corner I brace.
I open my mouth, but words are hard to push out.
The same tired, tat, what is the point.
The brain aches, the worn out neural networks burned.
Moving to a different room along the gauntlet of shouting,
Overcome by numbness again.
Into the bathroom.
Staring in the mirror at the prisoner in my eyes,
Seeing out of Hell’s fire.
I deserve it, I deserve it, fuck but I deserve it.
See you same time, same place tomorrow.