As I was perusing my blog the other day, I realized that I only shared half of my story of abuse. I have mentioned it off-hand a couple times throughout other posts, but I think it is finally time for me to share the story of my domestically violent relationship. This aha! moment is more difficult for me to share because it is the most recent, and therefore the most fresh in my mind. It involves a lot of guilt on my part, and anger towards myself for letting such a negative relationship continue for so long after I knew I needed to end it. I ask you, reader, to please forgive me, as I try to forgive myself.
It started out sweet; a cute guy, who I’d been friends with for a few years and had all sorts of mutual friends with. A guy I thought I knew, who I thought cared about me. I was so excited to date someone who I felt actually cared and would treat me right. He took me out, he called when he said he would; it was perfect. Or so I thought.
But then the switch flipped. He started getting more aggressive, more critical of me. The relationship was originally long distance, but it went downhill fast when he moved back to the same town as me. It started with little things. He would cut me down randomly. Call me clumsy, ridiculous, and crazy all the time. But in snide, “joking” ways so that I didn’t feel I had the right to be offended because otherwise he would accuse me of “not having a sense of humor.”
Then it moved into increased (and hypocritical) jealousy and a seeming lack of caring, which was so out of character in my mind for how attached he had been earlier. He took another girl (when he was still living out of town) to a wedding, and went clubbing with her until who knows what time of night, then didn’t tell me about it. When I confronted him, he told me jealousy was a stupid emotion that destroyed relationships, and didn’t think I had any right to be upset. However, when I hung out with one of my guy friends (and invited my boyfriend) along, Boyfriend refused to join, because he didn’t want to be “that guy,” but then called/texted me every 5 minutes. When I would hang out with my girl friends, he would completely ignore me, but the minute a guy was around, he couldn’t keep my phone quiet for more than a few minutes.
Later that same night, Boyfriend asked me to call him when I was on my way home and he would meet me there. So I called him, and after assuring himself completely that I was done going out for the night and on my way home, he said he would meet me there- he never did. He stood me up once he knew i was being a good girl.
But I put up with it. And this is just one example. We were taking things slow, he was out drinking with the guys and didn’t want to drive drunk. I should just “learn to be chill and be patient”-things that I wasn’t capable of according to him.
The escalation continued, until my birthday when everything exploded. He spent the entire night embarrassing me in front of my friends; he ignored me, hit on my best friend while refusing to touch me, and then left early. I went with him so we could talk about the fact that he ruined my birthday. It was the one time I had specifically stated what I wanted to do, and he couldn’t even be a good sport about it. Instead, he went off about how he didn’t get why birthdays were a big deal, that he didn’t want to spend money (though he later spent some on drugs), etc.
So we go to his place and I’m crying. He ruined my birthday, he embarrassed me in front of all my friends, he hit on my best friend in front of me. I felt awful. His friend was on his way over so they could continue hanging out. This was when the bad really happened. He interrupted my crying by saying we should just have sex. When I said “no, I’m crying,” he trapped me and attempted to force it on me. I managed to escape and lock myself into a bedroom. Sometimes, he would physically hurt me during, and when I would say something, he would blame me.
According to him, everything was always my fault. When he would push me, it “wasn’t his fault that I only weighed 20 lbs” and would therefore fall over. I couldn’t be patient. I couldn’t be this or that, or exactly, perfectly what he wanted in that moment. He told me I disappointed him. He made me believe that I wasn’t worth anything, that I would never be able to find anyone better.
And I…put up with it. For a while, at least. And that phrase is the hardest for me to say, because I am so humiliated, embarrassed, and horrified that I put up with it, even for just another few weeks. In a twisted way, I loved him. I wanted to believe things would get better, that things would be good again, like they were before. This was also before I was seeking help for what happened when I was little. In my mind, this was just how guys treated you. This was the best I thought I could expect from the male gender. I realize now that that is completely wrong, but at the time that was my truth.
So I put up with it, because I didn’t think I had the strength to leave. I cried every day during the last few weeks, because he made me feel so terrible about myself. And, (I have to take a moment to desperately defend myself) I was at a place in my life where I couldn’t literally deal with a break up. I had just found out about what happened to my little sister, was working on my last semester before college graduation, was not on speaking terms with my brother, was suffering from depression, losing weight unhealthily due to stomach sickness, was suffering from sleep deprivation, all while working, doing 2 internships, taking classes and being president of an on-campus organization.
I was exhausted. I was so busy I hardly had time to breathe and my life was crumbling around me. My family was shattered, several of my closest friends moved away, and loneliness crushed down on me. Boyfriend was my “cure.”
Finally, I left him because he wasn’t treating me right, but I had no idea it was a relationship that classified as Domestic Violence until much later.
I was looking into options for counseling for Sexual Abuse and I ran across SafePlace’s website. Here, I found a description of what classified as Sexual Abuse, and just out of curiosity, I checked the red flags for Domestic Violence checklist. I was shocked to discover that most of the “red flags’ applied to my relationship with Boyfriend. I knew things were bad, but I hadn’t realized just how bad until that moment. I spoke with a counselor over the phone, and she confirmed my suspicions.
Boyfriend was abusive. The thought hit me like a freight truck and terrified the living shit out of me. How had I found myself in another abusive situation? And only months after I had just realized what happened to me when I was younger? (see my Aha! Moment: The crushing blow of realization)
My world rocked, and I broke down. The feeling was awful. And I knew I had to find a way to ensure that he would never get me back; ever. No matter how hard he tried. So I told everyone what he’d done. So that, if my willpower wasn’t enough, my conscience and the judgment of my peers would stop me from ever going back to him. It has been months and I am just now beginning to feel healing arrive, after much effort. I have had to change my phone number, block him on Facebook, etc., to keep him away from me. It takes strength, and it has been incredibly difficult.
Realization hurts. Abuse adds another dimension to overcome after a break-up. The way he treated me affected me very deeply. Breaking up is hard to do, especially when someone breaks you down. But I am so glad I did it. And you wanna know what? The day I left him was the day I stopped crying. And the first time I’d felt peace in weeks.