“I met my abuser when I was 21 years old. I was young, happy, energetic, very sociable, a University student and full of thirst for life. No abuse story begins by being abusive – this is what many people get wrong when asking why did someone stay. It didn’t start like that. On the contrary, the relationship started off like any other young love story. There was flirting, dates, lots of laughter, excitement and falling in love.
He even told me right away about his past troubles with the law, his short prison sentence and his horrible childhood. I liked that he was honest and also felt he was deeply affected by his abusive past.
He was very charming, hard working, funny and quite loved by those around him. We worked together and a few months later we also moved in together. Most women who have been victims of abuse have trouble remembering the exact moment things turned sour because there is no such moment.
Emotional abuse is subtle and builds up slowly in a very sneaky way. It doesn’t come with huge warning signs at first, nor does it leave physical scars. Changes take place daily in a very discreet way. By the time emotional abuse occurs, you feel love and care for the other person. You feel happy, you trust him and denial doesn’t allow for any realization of the truth.
I can’t recall when our relationship was not so good anymore. There are key moments that are stuck inside my head and I don’t think will ever go. He started abusing class A drugs – something I had to find out myself months later. When I confronted him with that the initial reaction was anger, verbal abuse, aggressiveness. Later on he would apologize, even cry telling me how sorry he was, how others lured him into that and how badly he wants out. The abuser/victim role was a common game he often played with ‘last time never again’ promises. I wanted to believe him so I did.
I wasted 7 years of my young life in an abusive relationship, 5 of them trying to save him from drug abuse. Why did I stay? Because I didn’t know I was being abused. When I did realize that, I didn’t know there was a way out. Later I believed there is ALWAYS a way out but I couldn’t find mine. I couldn’t leave because I was left alone with hardly any friends. I had lost all my self esteem, confidence and self worth. I had let myself go, had self destructive tendencies and many times lost my will to live. I was lost.
Like most victims of abuse, I thought I loved my abuser and that he loved me back. Until the end I had hopes that things would be like before somehow. Ending a relationship you invested so much in is a great loss and I couldn’t possibly go through that mourning stage.
Every time he called me names, shouted at me, humiliated me, put me down, killed everything that I ever loved about myself – I thought it was my fault. Well, he told me so and I believed it. The times that I didn’t he would put on his crying victim face and apologize. I felt sorry for him. Besides, he had had a bad childhood – he needed help. He was very good at blaming everyone else for his behavior. He was also great at not acknowledging any of his abuse and belittling me every time I mentioned it.
He hit me a couple of times – both out of the blue, sudden. On one of those times I was punched in the stomach and fell on the floor – I thought I would die. Laying on the floor, alone, being unable to breath I thought of all my loved ones who I might never see and of all the things I might never do again. No woman or man deserves to fear for their lives at the hands of an abuser.
Being a victim is not only hurtful and traumatizing but also very difficult when having to share your story with friends and family. Some people blame the victim, others make you feel uncomfortable and not good enough and many are judgmental. You don’t have to be naive or uneducated to become a victim of any type of abuse – it affects people from all walks of life.
I feel really sad for women who feel now like I felt then – who can’t find their way out. Women who don’t really understand how much they are worth, how special they are and how unique. Women who live in fear of the ones they love and whose self-esteem has been destroyed. I feel sad for those men and women who are scared to speak up, ask for help, get out and claim the life they deserve. No-one will ever really know or fully understand what you went through or still are. This shouldn’t discourage you – having managed to cope on your own despite that fact shows how strong you are.
- Do you have a story you want to share? I would love to hear from you.