When I was a child my mom taught me a nursery rhyme about a little girl with a little curl on her forehead, “…and when she was good she was very very good. And when she was bad she was horrible.” As I read Marissa Alexander’s account of the abusive relationship that resulted in her being sentenced to 20 years’ in prison for defending herself against an assault, I hear the haunting echoes of that nursery rhyme.  As she describes the constant bound and rebound of emotions, thoughts, and actions, I also hear echoes of the stories the advocates at Wellspring hear from survivors every day. It’s so simple to see the red flags and the steady escalation of abuse when you’re reading someone else’s story, but when someone you love is treating you this way, it’s too easy to get caught in between these extremes.Perhaps her words can help someone else identify the patterns in their own relationship…before horrible  gets worse.

Rico and I had a lot of chemistry. 
When our relationship was good, it was excellent. When it was bad, it was really bad. 
In the beginning, there was behavior I used to interpret as affection, like, He wants to know where I’m going and be with me all the time because he loves me
Suddenly, he turned into the kind of person who would clock me when I would just be going to the grocery store. 
Later that year, Rico beat me so badly I ended up getting a restraining order against him. But then we started seeing each other again. [Editor’s Note: A criminal charge stemming from this incident was subsequently dropped after Alexander decided not to proceed with the case.]
 It’s embarrassing. I’m strong and determined and I had never experienced a relationship like this. 
So every time something bad happened, I would rationalize it 
and give Rico the benefit of the doubt. 
Or we would break up and he’d come back looking like a puppy dog, all lovey-dovey.