“On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”
I’m sitting here thinking about how to word this… how do I start this? It’s a subject that we are too embarrassed to talk about. Mostly because we don’t want you to pity us.
Before my experience, I never understood domestic violence. I would hear stories of women in relationships with men who were emotionally and/or physically abusive towards them, and I always wondered “Why don’t they just leave?”.
Such a great question, with such a complicated answer that only a victim of abuse could tell you. If you have never experienced it, you really just have no idea what they’re going through. Victims don’t want to share their story because they’re ashamed. Also, many don’t share because they’re still being victimized.
“The most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave.”
(United States Department of Justice, National Crime Victim Survey, 1995)
So, why I am about to tell you my story? I don’t believe in being ashamed of my faults, past failures, or life experiences. Why be ashamed? We all have something that didn’t work out the way we thought. I believe we come out stronger after being knocked down.
I feel like I need to tell you. I need to tell you in case it happens to you or someone you love (hopefully it never does). If it doesn’t happen to you, at least maybe after reading this, you can be more open minded and understanding of the situation many people face in these abusive relationships.
I think the hardest part about writing this is knowing my family will know the parts I hid from them. Plus, I don’t want my uncles, aunts, cousins, and family friends to read this and look at me with three heads at the next family party. I also don’t want any guy that I like to read this and think that I’m damaged. But at the end of the day, I think the message is stronger than my worries of what people will think.
“Trust me, she knew who she was dancing with the entire time. She just chose to see the good in everybody. I personally don’t think she should change that about herself. It’s possible her energy could even bring out the best in the devil”
I met him when I was 23 years old and he was only 5 months older. I was infatuated with him when we first met. He was tall, handsome, personable, smart, and funny. He walked into a room and everyone acknowledged him. He had a presence about him that made him so like-able. We got along great and always had a great time together. We were with each other everyday from the start. It was nice to have someone who always wanted to be together and give me affection.
“The devil isn’t some red guy with horns and a tail. The devil can be beautiful”
Our relationship was fine until we became “official” and I began to confront him about things he seemed to be lying about. Each confrontation got worse. It started out with him hitting himself or hitting the wall. Then it escalated to him throwing stuff, breaking things, and starring at me as if he didn’t have a soul. Then he began to put his hands on me. First he’d grab me by my arms and threw me around which left bruises. Then it escalated to him throwing or holding my phone so I couldn’t call for help. Then finally it got to the point where he strangled me, gave me a fat lip, and a black eye.
Now, this is when you’re like “WTF, why would you let any of that happen to you??” Yeah, I know. It was crazy. Each incident was spread out, and each time something happened, he’d apologize, say it would never happen again, and be the nicest guy in the world. He’d buy me gifts every time he would do something wrong. He would take my family out to dinner without telling me. He even bought my mother flowers on mother’s day after we were completely over and I was on vacation with my sister. He told me he was getting help from a psychologist. The psychologist called me because he skipped out on his sessions. After she heard about the abuse from me, she stated that he had been lying to her during their sessions.
With everything said and done, I hated him soo much but I just wanted the promise of it being the last time, to really be the last time.
“Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.”
When I tried to leave, he would always say he was going to kill himself which I actually believed. Also, any time I tried to leave was when he would hurt me. So I just gave up on trying. I was safer being with him and pretending like everything was ok then trying to get out of it. Even though I was six hours away from him, he would drive up to Boston and wait outside my apartment until I came home. He would hide his car around the block so I wouldn’t see it. I was always looking over my shoulder, praying he wasn’t there. To avoid him, I began flying 120 hours a month. I loved flying because that was the only time I actually felt at peace.
“1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.”
I was so afraid of him that I would instantly start crying and shake when he would show up. He would yell at me to stop crying and say he wasn’t doing anything to make me act that way. I tried to compose myself and act normal because I didn’t want him to freak out, but I couldn’t help it. They were anxiety attacks and I couldn’t stop them. He began to distance himself, thinking that if he gave me time, I would be able to be in the same room with him without having a breakdown. Those attacks were the best thing that ever happened to me.
“Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
I never saw him again. After six months of abuse, I mentally and physically couldn’t take it anymore. He would text me asking when he could see me and I would get anxious, lock all my doors, close my window curtains, turn out the lights, and hide under my covers in hopes to wake up to a better tomorrow. I finally was at peace when my sister and I went on vacation for two weeks and I didn’t talk to him at all. I felt like it was all behind me and when I got home, I was going to be a new me. The irrational thoughts and confusion about him all disappeared and I finally saw the situation for what is was, fu*ked up!
I remember landing in Atlanta (coming back from vacation), and he kept calling. I finally answered and he flipped out. He asked why I didn’t tell him I was back, why I wasn’t talking to him, and who I hooked up with. I hung up the phone. It was the greatest feeling ever because I knew it was over. I didn’t have to answer to him, he didn’t deserve to know anything about me. I finally reached my limit and all the weight was lifted off my shoulders knowing I wasn’t going back to where I was. That’s the thing with relationships where you’re being abused or taken advantage of. We all have our limits. Some are shorter than others, but it will be reached sooner or later and you will act accordingly. But that doesn’t mean your abuser won’t snap before your limit is reached… and even when your limit is reached, you may not leave because of factors such as financial reasons or maybe the worry of your children.
I believe my experience was minor compared to what others face. My heart aches for victims who can’t leave due to financial reasons or because of their children. It kills me to know someone is out there living in fear without a solution. I wish I could just go in and beat up the abuser, break their arms and legs, so they can never lift a hand to them again.
“Even if I start to fall, I swear to you I’ll rise again”
Looking back on it, he was a great manipulator and liar. I also would say he was a border line socio path. He gave me all the love in the world, just to turn around to show me a side of people I’ve never seen, evil. He never said anything mean about my looks, never put me down in that sense. But he always called me crazy, NEVER admitting to his lies. Always making me feel like I was the bad guy, as if I was actually crazy. But guess what, the truth comes out eventually, and everything I called him on, I was right. Men say women are crazy, well you make us crazy with your lies.
All victims have different stories. For me, my abuser used coercion, threats, intimidation, and emotional abuse.
He leached on to me because he was a sad individual and saw how happy I was. I believe weak souls search for strong souls so they can feed off of their happiness.
“You can’t walk with God holding hands with the devil”
That’s my story so now here is my advice. Don’t dance with the devil. He may seem fun and charming, but it’s not worth the hell he’s about to put you through.
The greatest thing I did was tell my family what was going on. It gave me the support I needed. They had the strength I didn’t. They fought for me. It was hard to tell them because I was in Boston and they were in Philadelphia. It really bothered them that I was alone, six hours away, and if anything happened, they couldn’t be there. I didn’t want them to worry about me. It was my fault I was in this situation (at least that’s how I felt).
But hey, imagine if something did happen and they had no idea about any type of abuse. They would have been so upset that I never told them. So, tell your family because if they worry, that’s fine. It’s okay to have people worry about you and question your safety. It’s better than you dying and them asking themselves later on why you never went to them for help.
If you keep it a secret, you’re taking away your voice and help that can be offered to you. You have to tell the people you love because they will do everything and anything in the world to help you.
In my case, the police were involved because he grabbed me in public. A bystander called the police and he was arrested. The legal process is awful and you have to go to court and face them. But if that’s what you need to do to be safe, than do it! It’s sad to say but the best way to get out of it is to disappear. I changed my number, moved out of my apartment, and blocked him from everything. He still contacts me via email but I don’t respond. These abusers want control, and will go to your house, work, and places you hang out in hopes to find you and scare you. You really have to start over to feel at peace.
Remember, I believe having your family and friends involved is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you can’t defend yourself, at least they can.
“I am learning to trust the journey even when I do not understand it”
When I tell people about my experience, I always say I’m glad it happened to me and I don’t fall victim. I see too many people dwelling on the past. They hold on to their hate, negativity, and resentment. It’s a process, but you have to let it go. At the end of the day, you survived. The fact that you’re no longer in that situation shows how strong you are.
I appreciate this experience mostly because now I understand. I get it! I was once that sheltered girl who didn’t understand how people could be so dumb to let themselves be abused continuously. Now, I do not judge. I sit back, I hear people talk about other people’s relationships, but I don’t comment. We never know the full story. We aren’t in their shoes so we have no place to judge them.
I will admit it still haunts me a little. I’m scared he’s going to find me. The fact I don’t want to discuss how – shows that I’m scared he may read this and do it. I still look over my shoulder walking home, I still lock my doors, and I still close my curtains during the day time.
Anyways, I learned so much, I was so naive! Sometimes it makes me sad that I don’t see the world like I use to. I was so trusting and loving, I had no reason to question anyone’s character. But after meeting someone so charming and at the same time so frightful, I now question everyone’s character. My circle is small, and for good reasons.
This experience has also shown me who my true friends are. I had two friends that I considered sisters who didn’t want to deal with me. It hurt more than the abuse and they’re no longer apart of my life. The great thing though is seeing all the love that surrounds me. It really warms my heart. My dad, sister, and brother in law Frank really helped me. My dad sat with me for hours, listened to me cry, and reassured me I would be okay. Christina and Frank were very protective of me making sure I was okay and even contacted my ex telling him to stay away. I’m also very thankful for my girlfriends. They were always there to listen to me and were patient when I repeated my mistakes.
Now, I’m exactly where I wanted to be a long time ago. When I was 22 I had this desire to be independent and to live a life of freedom. After this experience, I’ve never felt so independent. I don’t feel the need to be with a man for validation, support, love, or affection. I get that from my family and friends! I don’t have the desire to find a boyfriend, and I don’t feel bad for myself for being single. Being single is amazing! The greatest part is having my peace of mind back. I don’t worry about what another person is up to, what they’re doing, who they’re talking to, and all the untrusting thoughts that come with a relationship. Not saying those thoughts come with all relationships, but obviously my wall is up due to my past. I now know the signs, and refuse to ever put myself in that situation again. No one will ever control me like he did. I’m keeping my peace of mind, happiness, and independence for as long as I can.
The girl who danced with the devil and survived ♥