I could feel the tears escaping from my eyes and tracing down my face like battle scars of the night I was currently living. I sat on my bed, as I tried to think through the completely unpredictable situation that I found myself in.
My eyes darted like lasers between him, the door, my window and looking for my phone that had been thrown into a dark corner of my room. I could hear the low murmurs of my brother and his friends outside on the beer soaked porch talking quietly amongst themselves, as if to stop at any moment to listen.
Only 1 hour ago had we all been playing a friendly game of beer pong on the porch. Only 1 hour ago had we all been laughing and singing along to the music on the warm autumn night. It all came to a jarring halt when an old fling waved at me as he walked by our front porch at Palmer Place Apartments.
As soon as he waved, I looked directly up at my then boyfriend, completely disregarding the friendly and innocent greeting. I could see his anger start to fester beneath his skin as he glared into my eyes, fire burning in his. I followed him into my bedroom to “talk” as though I was a puppy in trouble. He immediately started yelling. I yelled back, fighting as hard as I possibly could to gain his understanding. We yelled. He called me names amongst the jealous rage, and I eventually shut down as I always did.
All I wanted in that dreadful moment was to escape. I remember several long minutes where I considered banging my head into a wall to knock myself out so that I just didn’t have to be there anymore.
Here I was, trying to fight my way out of my own bedroom. He stood there like a statue. I tried to push my way out over and over again, determined to finally defeat the barrier in front of me. Every time I was thrown back into the room like a rag doll. My window seemed like the only viable escape option, but I knew that I wouldn’t make it out before he grabbed me. My mind was racing, my arms had started to bruise from trying to fight my way out, and I needed help. It never came.
How did I get myself into this situation? Unfortunately, this would not be the last time that I would be in this situation. I would go on to spend 2 more years being mentally, emotionally, and physically abused. The fights started running together, and every time they got worse and worse.
I grew up in a supportive family of five. I was the oldest, followed by my brother and then my sister. I had an amazing childhood playing outside like homeless children under streetlights. My parents taught me right from wrong, and my father treated my mother with the utmost respect. If my parents have ever fought (which I suspect they have), I have never seen it. I am a college graduate who has an unhealthy obsession with Marilyn Monroe, Halloween, and wine. I enjoy hanging out with my friends, going out to eat and going to the movies. I have a wall of pictures in my room that illustrate smiling faces and moments that I have captured throughout my college experience and beyond. I have a drawer full of college tee shirts and sweatshirts and a closet full of more clothes than I’ll ever wear. I am in every sense of the word, a normal 24-year old.
I had one “serious” boyfriend in high school that I look back now on as a method of passing time. We broke up for no other reason that not caring enough to continue to baby a long distance relationship. I entered college very single, and very happy. I moved into the Convocation Center my freshman year, into a room of people I did not know. I had a horrible first semester trying to make true friends, but finally found my place towards to the end of freshman year when I met my now best friend. It also was the time that I met my now ex-boyfriend.
I remember meeting him for the first time. I remember the pull that I felt, and I remember knowing at the moment that we were meant to be together. I fell in love with him the moment that I met him. I was immediately infatuated with him, staying up until 5 a.m. just to talk to him. We were obsessed, and in love. There were signs like there always are, but I didn’t care because it was the first time I had been in love, and thought it was normal. My best friend from high school didn’t like him the first time she met him, but I didn’t heed any of my friend’s warnings. Our fights were louder and lasted longer than most. He was as hurtful as possible with his words, and I was crying often. He would get extremely upset with me when I was unable to answer the phone, even if it was because I was with my family, and that resulted in fights that extended hours after my family had gone to bed. I would emerge in the morning with puffy eyes, a migraine, and worried looks from my family who could probably hear me yelling from my room at night.
My list of excuses was impressive, and used often. The excuses ranged from ‘he suffers from severe anxiety to ‘this is his first relationship so he doesn’t really know how it works.’ The excuses continued to get more in depth as time went on and my “normal” relationship grew from a small puddle to a roaring, angry river.
My favorite excuse when talking with friends was always “he has never really seen a functional relationship since both his parents have been remarried twice or more.” I cannot even begin to estimate the number of times that I have uttered the phrase “I’m fine” through a cracking voice and beading tears when my worry stricken mother would ask about the yelling coming from my room the night before.
My best friends lived the majority of the fights with me because they lived with me. Kristin would sit up with me in the Convocation Center watching the 70+ phone calls and voicemails come in from him as my phone was on silent. She knew that when there was a break in phone calls, there would be a knock on our dorm door, and she knew we had to be silent so he didn’t know that we were there, otherwise he would never leave. She knew that a peephole was one of the most important things that existed throughout my relationship with him. She also knew that I very rarely felt safe in my “normal” relationship. I finally ended things with him on Valentine’s Day 2015. There were reasons, plenty of reasons. The biggest was that I couldn’t get over that he had told me that he had feelings for one of my best friends, but then took it back. The end of the relationship brought stalking, and constant phone calls. When I blocked his number, the emails started coming, and when I refused to answer, things started getting worse. I was receiving an upward amount of 30 emails per day. The morning that I found dog poop stuffed under my door handle marked the day I went for therapy, and the day that he was waiting for me outside my place of employment was the day that I got the police involved.
It took me a very long time to finally admit that I had lived through an abusive relationship, and although coming to this conclusion was extremely important, the trip landing here was not easy. After therapy sessions, and best friend therapy sessions, I realized that I found it so hard to admit that I had been in an abusive relationship because I shouldn’t have been. I was raised the right way, I am shown love by my parents, I have great friends, I am college educated, I was smart and people who fell into abusive relationships were dumb… right?Wrong. Anyone can fall into an abusive relationship and if I would have known that sooner, it may have saved me plenty of physical bruises as well as mental and emotional scars.
It would have saved me from failing the majority of my classes my sophomore year because of fights that lasted until 5 a.m. or later. It would have saved me the friendships that were damaged because of the isolation that I felt. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret anything. I learned many valuable lessons from this relationship. I learned that the quote “you don’t know how strong you are until strength is the only thing you have left” is absolutely true. When I tell people today about what I lived through for the past three years, the majority of them say “I don’t know how you did it.” The truth is, I don’t know either.
If this story falls into the wasteland of articles that no one will ever read, that is fine. However, if you are reading this, and you have connected to it, know that it is not too late. Society has a way of telling you that you are stupid and irresponsible for staying with your abuser, and I’m here to tell you that is not true. You didn’t deserve being called a whore, slut and made to sleep on the floor that one time he found out that you had hooked up with someone before him. You didn’t deserve the bruises that he gave you the night that he threw you onto the ice because he didn’t want you going into your apartment. You didn’t deserve the ripped sweatshirt the night he tried to drag you into his car against your will, and you don’t deserve to be in a relationship with someone who abuses your trust. You are stronger than you think you are… I certainly was.