The Guilfordian

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My story as a survivor of relationship abuse

My first time being abused by a partner was  in my junior year of high school. Our friends would never see the side of him that I experienced. By my senior year, we had been broken up for a year and he still was going at it. He found me in the hall when it was empty and backed me into a corner by a classroom and started yelling at me.

I was terrified and angry that this was still going on. It was the first and only time I had felt that kind of anger before. I was too scared to do anything, so I just stood there looking at him. I kept trying to stand up for myself and get out, but every time he’d back me down and get closer. There seemed like there was no hope.

I didn’t feel comfortable around him, and our friends who wanted things to go back to the way they were tried to mediate between us. They tricked me and got me to sit at a table with him. All I did was sit and listen to him tell me why I wasn’t good enough for him. It hurt more than anything he had ever done.

The next guy I dated in high school tried to control me. He wouldn’t let me talk to my friends and would drag me by my backpack if I talked to another one of my guy friends. Senior prom was just around the corner and we had already gotten our tickets, but he started to get angrier and more controlling. I tried my best to hold out until prom was over, but the relationship had become toxic.

After contemplating things, I didn’t feel safe with him anymore, so I called off our relationship two weeks before prom. I felt so bad, but I needed to feel safe. Again, we had a group of friends, all guys. This time around they sided with him. I had talked to my ex about me leaving the group because he was there first and they were his friends to start with. He insisted I should stay.

A few days later when lunch came around and everything seemed normal, he exploded at me. He started to walk angrily toward me at a fast pace, his voice at its highest level. I kept backing up with every step he took. Soon I had nowhere to go. I knew I was about to get hit. Our friends were too scared of him to do anything until they saw his anger and my extreme fear. They soon stepped in. I looked around, my entire body shaking with fear. Everyone in the courtyard was staring. I quickly grabbed my things and ran through small window that my friends gave me.

Later, he admitted proudly to not only our friends and family, but to anyone who would listen, “Yeah, I was totally about to back hand her if no one had stepped in.”

My last and most recent encounter with an abusive relationship was my freshman year of college. He seemed great all-around, but soon he started to get manipulative and sexually-aggressive. I didn’t see it until after the relationship ended. He not only sexually abused me, but he cheated and took advantage of anyone he knew that had a kind heart. He came from a stereotypical rich white family who pays their way out of anything. He would buy me expensive things all the time in hopes that I would stay in love with him.

Soon he told me that when he was a young teenager, he molested a little boy that he was supposed to be babysitting. Then he told me a few years ago he molested a young teenage girl, who he was also supposed to be babysitting. He told me his parents just paid the families to keep them quiet and maintain their family’s reputation. I talked to his best friend, and she divulged to me that there had been more victims than he originally stated.

When I stopped talking to him, he tried to manipulate me into talking to him again. He then started to hack into my Facebook account and post as me. I changed the security settings. He emailed my personal email, then my school email. I blocked him on those too. He then emailed my mom. She blocked him. Then he started texting her. Blocked again. Soon he started to try and reach me through friends. I had already threatened to get a restraining order, but that didn’t stop him.

The emails and messages were too stressful to look at, so I had deleted them. I had no evidence. This was the first time that I experienced true PTSD. The feeling of paranoia took a year to go away and still it comes back every once in a while.

Although this is a lot to go through and shook my entire being and my morals for a while, I came out stronger and wiser in the end. I learned more about behaviors of manipulative personalities and I learned to help others that are going through the same things that I had already gone through. I feel like being a survivor, I can better help those who have been through or are currently going through abusive relationships and assault.

I went through intense hypnotherapy which at first I thought of as joke but then was shocked and relieved when it took some of the paranoia and anxiety away in the end. I had friends who were by my side and just listened to me. I could always call them or message them when one of my panic attacks or PTSD took over and they knew how to help me through it.  I was in intense counseling for it for a year straight and even was told to join support groups. I would listen to empowering music and soon I started to try and find myself again. Ever since, I have tried my best to never let anyone take away who I truly am. Losing yourself is one of the hardest things to cope with and that’s why people who abuse others make you feel like you will never be yourself without them. They strip you of your courage and independence.

Many people believe that abuse is daily and usually physical, but abuse comes in many different forms such as verbal, emotional, controlling and manipulative. For anyone who is experiencing abuse, I recommend talking to someone about what are experiencing and getting help to get out of the current situation you are in. It can be terrifying to try and break free and it is very easy to get roped back into the relationship once you believe you are finally free.

The person will make you feel like you have no other option or that you need them in your life to feel complete. I have had guys tell me that they will kill themselves if I leave them and others who have tried to make me feel less of a person if I leave. They will try to convince me that I was nothing before them and that I’ll be nothing again if I leave. Thoughts like, “What if they act on it?” and “Would I be responsible?” flooded my mind.

The thing to focus on is that anyone who is using these types of tactics to get you to stay with them is manipulative and toxic. No, you will not be held responsible for trying to cut an abusive person out of your life. You will feel more damage to yourself in the long run if you let them stay. I have learned that fear is what they use to control you. It is easier said than done to escape an abusive relationship but in the end, you are much more healthier for it.

Though it is horrible and can make you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore, there is a strength that comes with it, even if it’s hard to see right now. You are stronger than you thought, you can survive anything, and you are now even more empowered to help those who have experience what you have. There is something that is ignited in you that you can use to help others and educate others on what abuse really is, the many different forms of it and how to escape. Remember not to try and see yourself as a victim but as a survivor because you are a survivor.

It has made me want to help others find their voice when it has been beaten out of them and regain their spirit and faith. It is easy to lose who you are when you have gone through things like this. I used to think of myself as a victim, but now I think of everything I have learned and how I can now better help others and I see myself as a survivor. I am back and stronger than ever.

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