Hello, My name is Sarah and I have been a victim of an abusive relationship.
This is my story.
Before I share my story, I want to get us all on the same level.
Abuse is defined as the “cruel or violent treatment of a person (or animal) especially regularly/repeatedly.”
Abuse encompasses more than just physical violence, in fact there are 6 main forms of abuse that occur within violent relationships:
Standing over you, getting “in your face,” blocking a doorway, grabbing you if you try to leave, kicking, punching, biting, slapping, choking, threatening to harm you, using weapons, throwing things, breaking things, punching walls or doors, driving recklessly, burning, cutting, pulling hair, stabbing, strangling, tying or confining you, preventing you from seeking medical care, murder.
Insults, put downs, intimidating you, embarrassing you in public, talking down to you, not listening to or respecting your feelings, making threats, telling you you’re not “GLBTQ,” “man,” or “strong” enough, being jealous, possessive, controlling; excessive or threatening texts, wanting access to your messages, email, FaceBook/MySpace, spying, checking up on you, accusations of cheating, making you feel like you need to justify yourself, giving you no privacy, shaming you for your sexual orientation.
Yelling, shouting, swearing, continuously arguing, interrupting, talking over you, put downs, using loud and threatening language and tone to cause fear, name calling, intimidating you, mocking you, abusive language.
Withholding money, opening up a joint account but you don’t have access, forcing you to leave your job, forcing you to get fired, shaming you for how you spend your money, not allowing you to work or get an education, putting all the bills/credit cards in your name, preventing you from using a car.
Playing mind games with you, twisting everything around so nothing is their fault and all of their behavior was caused by something you did or didn’t do, accusing you of doing things that they are doing, lying, manipulating you for control or sex, threatening to “out” you to parents, friends, classmates, distorting reality so you think you are losing your mind.
Rape, unwanted sexual touching, vulgar comments, pressure for sex, forcing you to have unprotected sex, forcing you to get pregnant or to have an abortion, sexting, forcing you to have sex with other people or to watch your partner have sex with someone else, forcing you to use or participate in pornography.
In the summer of 2010, I met a guy at the summer camp where we worked. We hit it off and soon enough he asked me to be his girlfriend. He seemed like a great guy: funny, personable, charming. So of course I agreed.
That’s when it all started to go downhill.
It wasn’t too long before he started putting me down verbally. He would make comments about how I wasn’t “smart enough” to understand whatever it was he was talking about at the time. He would tell me to just “stop talking.” I didn’t really think anything of it…he was just being a guy right? Wrong.
From there he moved to my emotions, he would continue to make off handed comments about how my body wasn’t “hot”, “fit”, “attractive” and how he wished I looked more like celebrities like Megan Fox. So I started dieting. I lost about 20 pounds in 2 months. But even that wasn’t enough to make him happy.
The previous two behaviors continued for weeks…it became my new normal. I didn’t even realize that anything was amiss. Then things got worse that winter. He followed me upstairs at his parent’s house one day when they were out. He proceeded to makeout with me. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but then he started making moves that I was not at all comfortable with. I kept saying “No. I don’t want to. Get off me. Stop.” Over and over and over again. That day he stopped.
Sometimes he would stop if I said “No.” enough times. Other times he wouldn’t.
Over time…there were times when I wouldn’t even protest. I felt like I was just an object. It didn’t matter what I did or said, I could just be used. He manipulated me into thinking that if I didn’t go along with it that I was a bad person. In my clouded head, I didn’t even realize that what was happening wasn’t normal and that it was incredibly unhealthy.
As a devout Christian, I also felt shamed, soiled, used, disgusting, violated and I felt like it was my fault for letting it happen over and over again. So I didn’t say anything to anyone. I pretended like everything was wonderful between us.
It wasn’t, but I was afraid of what he would do if I broke up with him. He was prone to violent outbursts when he was angry and I was legitimately scared that he would do something to me if I did.
So 2 years later with continued manipulation and abuse, I even agreed to marry him when he proposed.
About 3 months later though, he cheated on me. And in that hurt, I finally found the confidence to walk away. And even at that moment, I never even realized that our relationship had been abusive.
It took me a long time after we broke up to realize just how toxic our relationship was.
I knew that it was bad, sure, but I would never have said that he had abused me. It wasn’t until a psychologist explained to me the different kinds of abuse and that my situation fell within those bounds that I came to terms with it all.
Once I said the words: “I was in an abusive relationship.” I was able to start healing.
Healing took time. It took tears. But it happened.
I always have been a strong willed, independent woman and it scared me that even I could have so blindly been in an abusive situation. And the fact that I did, doesn’t make me any less of a person. It doesn’t make me weak or unworthy. It is an experience that I would never wish on anyone, but I am stronger for it.
I am now happily married to a wonderful man who is incredible and who loves me for me. I know this week’s post is a bit different than what I normally discuss, but my low self confidence in my own beauty was a huge factor in my situation, and I want to make sure that other women know the different forms abuse can take. Abuse doesn’t have a standard form that it takes, it’s unique to every relationship. However, there are common threads that I believe everyone should be aware of.
Thank you for reading my story.
You are a beautiful, strong, human being.
So stay smiling, beautiful! Happy looks great on you! (: