I never, ever believed I would find myself here. I am an empowered woman. I have worked with survivors of rape and intimate-partner violence. I do not see myself as invulnerable or better than people who end up in violent relationships, but I do believe that I have a strong enough support network and know enough about the warning signs to be able to avoid it or to leave if it begins to evolve. So why is leaving you the furthest thing from my mind?
You gave me two black eyes. On our anniversary. You threatened to rape me during a fight. That it was a hollow threat seems almost meaningless—you wanted to see me that scared. Mission accomplished. You have been convicted of domestic violence in your past and have proven yourself capable of it again.
But our relationship looks nothing like an abusive relationship should. We are exquisitely egalitarian. You support me emotionally, love me unconditionally, share my values, and treat me with respect, compassion, and adoration at all other times. You do not try to destroy my self-esteem or my relationships with others. You are not jealous, irrational, or controlling. You are my strongest advocate and my most emphatic cheerleader. You are my best friend.
You have assumed full responsibility for your atrocious behavior and are taking concrete and measurable steps to fix it. But you have struggled with anger-management and impulse-control issues for your entire life. You got arrested, got help, and got better. Then you relapsed.
I don't know if I believe that you will never do it again.