It was abuse.
Three years ago, I was in an abusive relationship. I have never said the words out loud, because I have always felt guilty about calling his actions abuse, because it could have been worse.
That’s the way I was raised–It’s not abuse until he hits you. But here I am, three years later, finally done justifying his actions. Here I am, finally admitting to myself that it was abuse.
There are a million reasons why I have never told anyone about his abuse. I never wanted to be called a liar with the aid of statements like:
1. “He never even hit you.”
2. “He never even raped you.”
3. “He never even threatened you.”
But I’m finally here to answer those statements, to show those critics that there is no one kind of abuse.
He never even hit you.
You’re right. He never even hit me. He only grabbed my wrists so tightly that they were sore for days. He only pinned me down so that I couldn’t walk away from poisonous diatribes. He only threw plates and mugs at the wall behind me when I dared to tell him, “Not tonight.” He only grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me to shut me up. But, you’re right. He never hit me.
He never even raped you.
You’re right. He never forced himself inside of me, and I left with my virginity still safely in tact. He only locked the door to his bedroom, so that I couldn’t quickly get away. He only forced my hands inside of his pants in the middle of a crowded party, despite my desperate pleas. He only forced off my top and moved to my jeans, only stopping because his parents came home.
He only held me down in the back bedroom of a house party, forcing me to explore his body, despite the tears in my eyes and the bruises on my wrists. He only hovered over me in the dark, removed his clothes, and menacingly whispered, “You’re going to lose it to me eventually, mark my words.” But, you’re right. He never even raped me.
He never even threatened you.
You’re right. He never told me he’d kill me if I left, or he’d hurt me if I walked away. He only told me I was never going to find someone to love me, because I kept my clothes on around him, and I had too many aspirations. He only told me that he cheated, because I could never dream of being enough woman for him. He only told me that he would never love me, because I was stupid, and worthless, and not as beautiful as I’d been in my youth. He only told me that we lived by his rules, and I was not to break them. But you’re right. He never even threatened me.
My abuse was not dark sunglasses and makeup covered bruises. My abuse was not a paper hospital gown and a police officer asking me to recount the events of the night. My abuse was not a restraining order, or a police car parked outside of my house. My abuse was a beautiful boy I’d known for ten years.
My abuse was being too broken and complacent to leave. It wasn’t an afterschool special, or a brochure in a counselor’s office. But, finally, three years free, I know without a doubt:
It. Was. Abuse.