Survival Skills

Some hunt to kill; some to survive and protect.

Shards of piercing words flew across the room at her. There was no point in running. She had been captured, and the gunfire from his vocal cords was incessant. Standing, she took the blows, her body numbing with the painful sensation of a thousand paper cuts across her soul. She had been trapped. 

Later she would come to recognize it as gaslighting. But now, a brain fog confusion made her wonder how stupid she could be to get it wrong. 


She had even written down his instructions this time as a record, but apparently she had scribed incorrectly. He said she hadn’t listened. Baited and trapped, she stood like a deer in headlights as he came in for the delicious kill. 

Hunting takes time, and it requires experience. Skills include patience, observation, and knowledge. For him, her husband, it was a strongman display of power, a peacock’s display of masculinity, yet he allowed her enough breath to recover to be hunted repetitively. She barely survived.

But now, five years later, she stood in the parlor, cloaked with exhaustion, holding her eight-week-old son, knowing she had to survive to protect his innocent life. Her tired muscles tautened as she moved around the entrance room of their three-bedroom house, the only cleared space where she was confined to sleep, feed, and live. 

Senses alert for the slightest noise of his return.

He purported to be a hunter-gatherer, but he was a squanderer and hoarder. Buying from auction with the proposed aim of selling on, instead he stored. Cluttered furniture, chipped artifacts, boxes of creased-page books—all piled high in rooms and corridors. Dead peoples lives preserved and valued above her own and their newborn’s life. And stifled, she had no say.

But now…

Now she had another to look out for. The fragile bundle in her arms. For him, she had to survive.

She had to learn hunting skills to protect. 

The front door opened, and the winter wind and his presence chilled the room. She noted his anger and reflexively one arm came around her sleeping son hugged to her in a soft supportive sling. Cautiously, she started circling her husband in conversation, anything to distract him from annoyances. Knowing he was ready for a ranting monologue, she threw him a question, barely listening to his reply. 

He never needed her opinion. 

But her eyes noticed every move—the gestures, the tone of voice, the glances around the room. He was wild and dangerous with unpredictability of a lion. Gradually he stopped pacing, settling into the only empty floor space in the room, kneeling before a box of his latest Gollum-like acquisitions. 

However, their son stirred and whimpered. Her husband demanded to hold him, and she couldn’t resist his pull. Anxiety increased her watchfulness as she noted consternation on her son’s face and the lack of attention his father paid him as he continued to pour forth his grievances. As their son’s distress squalled, he finally turned his face to him and yelled “Shut up!” with a typhoon-like eruption. 

Their son was startled to shocked silence, but the resultant terror in his tiny face caused her to reflexively bring her fist in a hard blow to her husband’s back, catching him off guard. Never before had she hit him, nor would she ever again, and she trembled as maternal adrenaline spiked. Stunned, his face registered shock and surprise. Obviously she hadn’t hurt him, but his pride was wounded and she would later pay. But for now, the beast was wary.

He declared abuse, but her priority was to regain hold of her son.

“I’m sorry,” she said. Her voice placatingly pleaded guilt. “But yell at me, not him.”

“It worked though,” he crowed, smirking at their son’s still disquieted face. 

Then, dismissive anger.  

“Go for a walk,” he demanded, turning to his box. “Get out of here.” 

Indifferently, he placed the silent boy in her outreached arms. 

Stumbling through the open door, the frost-filled air filled her lungs. She mentally replayed her action. Instinctive but foolhardy. She needed self control. It would take time for her to develop the skills needed to survive and eventually kill what really needed destroying—the marriage that bound her to him. 

Even then, she’d need help.

But she had to learn.  

For survival and protection.

Kate loves the expansive beauty of nature, which contrasts so sharply with human constraints, and she enjoy walking along beaches and trekking up mountains. She does not consider herself a writer, but at times, she finds expression of emotional memory trickling out through the written word. Having experienced many challenging situations, she is currently searching for freedom for herself and others by learning about her story, trauma, and abuse. Her desire is that her stories challenge the presuppositions for women struggling in difficult circumstances in life and bring movement and hope.