When I was younger I heard people speak about my mum. How ‘beautiful’ and ‘youthful’ and ‘relaxed’ she was. I always wondered what had happened to her as I watched her battle with her own self esteem, anger and anxiety.
I didn’t realise till I was a bit older, that she was in an abusive relationship. I didn’t understand that the fighting and comments weren’t normal. That the things being thrown at my mum, the pushing and the violence was wrong.
After seeing the abusive man my father turned into after a few drinks I was clear of one thing; I would never be with someone like him and I would never let myself get treated how my mother and her children did for years.
But what I never realised was how easy it is to get yourself into a situation like that. That sometimes those things follow months of happiness and love.
When I was 16 I thought I’d found ‘the one’ as most of us do, I was young and in love and completely intoxicated by him in every way.
But one day, he started checking my phone, mostly when I wasn’t in the room. I didn’t think much of it until he was forcing me to block people I had been friends with for years because they had made me smile more than he had. He talked shit about everyone I loved and told me lies about things they had said to try and turn me against them.
It became a routine, that he would check my phone regularly but after a while I would just hand it over after his commands. I was so scared I had done something wrong, I withdrew from every body so there wasn’t a chance of it. I was frightened another day would end in hours of me being guilt tripped or ignored. Or that I would lose him. I ended up making another Facebook account (or being forced to) in which he chose who I could add. He’d come to my work before I finished to check I wasn’t talking to guys. And if he caught me talking for more than 5 seconds to someone of the opposite sex I would be interrogated about it for days.
A few times he told me I couldn’t go into work, if I did I didn’t love him and there was no point me even staying. I rang up and lied. I was then scared of getting into trouble at work.
I was predicted A*A*A for my final year at college, I did well and had unconditional offers (one of which I took) but I didn’t get these results because I was more bothered about him. I didn’t have time to concentrate on my work or my own life.
I was doing his college work for him, (you’re welcome for the entire essay I did for you on witchcraft even though I didn’t study it). Most days he would ignore me for hours and hours to be on his computer (everyone needs there space but I was afraid to even speak in case I upset him) He’d do this until we went to bed or he needed me to do something. If I spoke I was in the wrong, if I complained I was in the wrong. Everything was my fault.
I was going to the shop to buy him snacks at the click of his finger. Most days he refused to come with me and even kicked me out of his house once because I told him I wouldn’t. He would leave me in places I couldn’t get back from late at night, so I would have to walk miles alone in the dark just because he’d decided ‘he didn’t want me there anymore’.
Things got worse to the point where he was pushing me to dress in a certain way and telling me he didn’t like certain aspects of my appearance, forcing me to take out my piercings and ‘dress more feminine’. He told me I needed to lose weight and said I ‘should just stop eating.’ At this point I was 18 years old, suffering from the same self esteem issues as any other teenager so hearing comments like this constantly down your ear is heartbreaking. But I still stayed.
Towards the end he would make comments about our sex life and I felt guilt tripped into doing things with him whenever he wanted it. It was never my choice. He knew I didn’t want to but that didn’t matter. It should have mattered and I should have said no. It wasn’t always like this, so I thought it was normal to feel like you had to do these things. But I didn’t love him anymore so it was all for him. I was just afraid of upsetting him and I didn’t think I could make it on my own.
He broke up with me on my 18th birthday 10 minutes in, but came crawling back when I found someone new.
I took him back.
I like to think people can change but everything he said to me, every apology was a lie.
It all got worse.
I could go on forever about the psychological abuse and things he guilt tripped me into doing, the hours I spent trying to be someone I wasn’t because I didn’t feel like anything I did was ok anymore, but some things don’t need to be told.
The night it all clicked was when he said to me ‘I really wanted to hit you before, I was so close’. It was everything I needed to hear in order to walk away.
Its been two years since then and I can honestly say I’ve only just come to terms with it all. I thought I was over it and if people asked me I probably would have said I was, but I was blocking out the anger and sadness I felt towards this part of my life without realising how much it was affecting me.
It’s taken another relationship which I will forever be grateful for because honestly it saved me. I realised what being in a relationship was supposed to be like and that everything I put up with was not okay. My last ex will always hold a place in my heart for the endless nights he put up with my tears because of abuse I suffered before him and for showing me what love actually is. (If you happen to hear about this or read it, you will know who you are, thank you always).
For people that know me reading this, you know how confident I am. I look and say what I want most of the time, this is why so many people asked me ‘why did you stay?’ Or ‘why did you never talk to me about it?’ I usually joke and say ‘because I was a prick’ but honestly I was scared, in love and I didn’t even realise what he was doing was wrong.
I lost a lot of friends along the way, as I distanced myself from people. Through fear of the arguments and abuse my friendships caused. Through apprehension that somehow they would end up getting hurt too and would somehow end up tangled up in the situation I had gotten into. So I’m sorry if you were one of these people. I’m sorry if something we had was lost because I didn’t fight for it.
I wanted to make this blog to try and help people, but it seems I’ve mostly just written about my story which honestly has probably only helped me by getting it off my chest.
But to anyone reading this who may feel like they’re in a similar situation and is scared, there is a way out. Even if you talk to a friend or family member it can help. I was too scared to do this for so long because I was afraid of the truth. Afraid I would make him look bad (Haha).
But when I finally reached out just hearing people tell me it was wrong, tell me I deserved more and them giving me a safe place to talk and cry helped me come to terms with what I had been through.
I promise you can live without him (or her). You can be safe and happy. And you can have a life of your own.
Most importantly you may not even realise you are in a toxic and ‘abusive relationship’ because a lot of the time when you hear this term you think of a victim with bruises and violence. But emotional abuse is so real and hurtful too. It can create so many issues with your confidence, mental health and you never know what’s going to be the next step.
The recovery after is hard, I’m not going to lie and in some way I will probably always be affected by all of this when it comes to relationships but I know it wasn’t my fault and I always try and remember this in the choices I now make. I’ve been guilty of acting in ways or repeating behaviours that I shouldn’t have because I thought they were normal.
I control every aspect of my appearance now and I try new things for me and only me. But when someone makes a similar remark about something I once heard off him, it can still affect me. I suffer from low self esteem some days, I find it hard to trust people and I still often let myself get treated badly by people because I’ve never known any different, but I’m working on it.
I am hoping this experience will help me to support others in similar situations whilst taking on the role as Women’s Officer of my university this year.
A little message for this ex- Don’t worry dick head, I’ve remembered how amazing I am.
I’ve put a couple of useful links below (how to spot the signs of abuse and getting help). As I’ve not given a lot of actual information and I feel like these may have been a great help a couple of years ago for me: