I was involved with someone who, at first, was the sweetest person in the world. He would tell me he loved me and he would tell me I was the most amazing person and I was happy. I would wake up to “Good morning Beautiful” texts and he would buy me whatever I wanted. Everything was perfect.
And then it wasn’t.
I remember it as if it just happened yesterday. It started with him flicking me in the face with his fingers and when I told him he was hurting me, he simply smiled and did it again. Big deal right? Get over it, it’s just him teasing me, isn’t it? I let it go.
We’d go for lunch and he’d take my phone, I didn’t need to talk to anyone because I was with him and I guess he was right so I let it go.
He started getting more handsy. Grabbing my wrist and when I tried to pull it away, he would tighten his grip “I’ll let you go when you listen”. So I listened and he let go. That’s fine though right? He just wanted me to listen so what did I do? I let it go.
I started staying the night at his house. That’s what you do when you like someone right? You spend all your time with them? He would shake me away and shove my phone in my face “You’re sending hearts to other guys? You think that shit is okay?!” He didn’t check the date, they were sent years ago. I didn’t even know him at the time but that’s ok right? Just a simple misunderstanding? I let it go.
We started fighting but not all the time and he always said sorry for getting angry. When he pushed me into the wall and hit my head on a shelf? “I’m sorry baby, it won’t happen again”. Of course he wouldn’t do it again, he loved me so I let it go.
It was my birthday and we were spending it together and I was so excited. He wanted to spoil me rotten because after all, I’m his world and deserve the world. I wanted my friends to celebrate with me too? Why did I want that? He was obviously enough so there was no need for my friends to be around. I guess that’s true, I have him so who else do I need? I let it go.
We started fighting more frequently. I liked to think I was fairly independent but he reminded me I was nothing without him. My family moved away, who else did I have? He was there for me so I let it go.
We continued to fight, daily. The fight usually ended with him hitting a wall, barely missing my head but it’s just a rough patch so I let it go.
Reading this I bet you are wondering, why the hell did she stay?! That’s the problem with society. People are too busy asking the one abused why they stayed rather than asking why people abuse others. Abusers find your weakness and they exploit it. They are master manipulators that cause you to think that you are in the wrong, it’s YOUR fault.
It’s important to realize that domestic violence is NOT a gender issue. Anyone can be abused and it’s important to stop victim blaming. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my story and have thought “maybe if I did this differently I would have been okay”. I can’t tell you how many times I compared my story to other women’s stories and felt “what happened to me isn’t as bad as what happened to them”. NO! Do not think this way! Abuse is abuse, no matter what form.
I thought I was okay, I had closure and I had moved on. It’s recently been brought to my attention that I may suffer with PTSD. I’m almost 21 years old and I may have PTSD for the rest of my life. How does abuse result in PTSD? Simple. PTSD is caused by trauma and, this may be surprising for some people, abuse is traumatic. If I see someone that looks like my abuser, sounds like my abuser or even just seeing domestic violence in media can trigger a flashback that can cause me to shut down and not be able to function. Recently my school showed the 48 Hour Film Festival and one of the warnings was violence against women. I started hyperventilating and had to leave the event. Even writing this is causing me to become shaky and anxious so why am I talking about it? Because it needs to be heard. We, as a society, need to stop victim blaming and bringing the abusers to justice. There are certain areas in my city I can’t go to because I might see him. You are never fully out of that, you will live with that hurt and that worry and the trauma for your entire life so please, I’m begging you, please listen when people come forward because coming forward can be the most terrifying part and please stop asking “well why did you stay?”.