Someone can beat the love out of you. You can see your own heart, pure normal and functioning and then you can watch as their malice becomes stones big and small that they hurl at you.
Their angry faces. The tensed shoulder angled a certain way, the way they might deliberately exclude you or even speak of you harshly in your presence. The way they exchange your name for curse words.
You try to love. You try to comfort and protect and heal. But then you recoil in pain, and fear when they turn on you like a painted dog.
You learn to always be afraid. You learn to protect yourself a little.
Coil in a ball. Cover your arms with your head. Just survive this.
And then the next time? Pepper spray and krav maga, baby. Pepper spray and….krav maga.