I have been wanting to write this post for a long time now, but I never really felt that push to write it…until now. Recently, I came across a girl’s blog. I noticed straight away how similar we were: both southern, both blondes, both attending SEC universities, and both come from good families. Then I read it. The most striking similarity of all. My stomach dropped and my throat locked up. Because we are both survivors of an abusive relationship.
Reading her story made me realize that I am not alone.
In actuality, this problem is all too real for many people. According to the CDC, dating violence is a widespread problem. 1 in 3 young people in the U.S. will be in an abusive or “unhealthy” relationship at some point. And by no means is it “just a girl problem”, boys are victims too. So because of this, I want to share my story. If I can help one person, it’s worth telling.
My story starts with a boy sending me sweet text messages, sweet notes, and even artwork he made just for me. We would go horseback riding, see movies, attend football and basketball games, all of the normal couple things. I was so happy. Fast forward a few months, I had just made the cheerleading squad, and I was getting ready to go to cheer camp with the girls. I was so excited, and as I was getting ready to leave, I found out via FaceBook that my boyfriend was seeing another girl. To make matters worse, the girl who set them up was my first “friend” that I had made in my recent move to Tuscaloosa. I was devastated. When I confronted him about it, his excuse for doing it was that it was my fault. I wasn’t this enough, I wasn’t that enough. It was me that made him cheat. I believed him, and I took him back. (Mistake #1)
For the next couple of months, everything seemed back to normal. We were having fun again, but, who could’ve guessed, things started to change. It started with my clothes and my looks. He would look at me with disgust and say, “Why are you wearing that? You’re not going out like that. That’s way too low-cut, you look like a whore.” He told me that I wore too much make-up, dressed up too much, and that my heels were stupid. He said he didn’t like my hair curled, and that he really preferred brunettes. There was always something wrong with the way I looked, and he made sure to let me know every single day. So I started to change the way I dressed and looked. I thought that by doing this, he would be happy with me. (Mistake #2)
When attacking the way I looked wasn’t enough, he began to isolate me from everyone. And by everyone, I mean everyone. He called my close friends whores and told me not to hang out with them anymore. He told me that my hometown was stupid, and that I was not to go back unless he was with me (even though that’s where my grandparents live). I would actually sneak back and not tell him. He questioned why I wanted to take dance. He even fought with me the day I got baptized because my t-shirt was wet and the person who baptized me was a man. Everything that meant something to me, he criticized, demonized, and took away. He destroyed my Twitter, wouldn’t leave me alone until I deleted guys from my FaceBook, and constantly had to see my phone. I thought that by giving in to these demands, he would be happy with me and that he would change. Are you starting to see a pattern here? (Mistake #3)
He was constantly mad at me about something. A guy friend of mine messaged me at 12:01 a.m. on my birthday to simply say ‘Happy birthday’, and he was furious. He sat there, on my birthday, yelling at me for hours. He was always accusing me of wanting someone else, and even thought that I wanted to date his best friend. So because he had this thought, he wouldn’t “allow” me to be around his friends. And because he lived in another town, I was always in the dark about what he was out doing. I was always catching him in lies, and there were always other girls. I knew in my heart for a very long time that it was over, but I stayed. I clung to this hope that by doing anything he wanted, that he would change and become happy with me. (Mistake #4)
The last straw for me was a conversation I had with a girl he was hitting on at the time. God, I am so thankful for that girl. I was finally done, and with the help of a good friend, I walked away and never looked back. I was finally free.
Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
– Psalm 71:20
From the outside looking in, I can completely understand why someone would ask, “Well why didn’t you just break up with him if he was treating you that way?” The fact of the matter is that it’s never that simple. I couldn’t recognize this treatment as abusive. I thought all of it was my fault. He was extremely manipulative and controlling, and I honestly believed that I could fix him.
I’ve thought a lot about why I was so vulnerable to this abuse. I’ve always been strong-minded, so why did I let myself be treated this way, and for so long?
Because I’m committed.
Because I trust people.
Because I know that great relationships just don’t happen, they take work.
Because I always try and see the good in people.
Because I’m an optimist.
Because I love unconditionally.
These characteristics made me susceptible, but I refuse to let my bad experiences taint my heart. Instead, I’m hanging on to them. Because I know that one day, someone will cherish these qualities.
“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” – Francis Bacon
Am I bitter? No, I believe everything happens for a reason and that something good always prevails. I purposely left out a lot of details of my story that are simply too graphic to share. I understand now that any relationship that I’m in must allow and encourage both of us to grow into the greatest people we can become. Anything less is unacceptable. I now know the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. And I now know the kind of man that I want to spend the rest of my life with.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help from someone you trust immediately. If you are unsure, the articles below may be helpful. I’m always here to talk, so please feel free to message me.
All the love,