I was a cheerleader and I met him at his school during a football game. When we first started dating, he was so sweet, funny, and would flood me with compliments. We would spend so much time together and when we weren’t, we were on our phones or texting each other. He would always send me little thoughtful texts or buy me little trinkets. I knew it was young love and never really wanted an official boyfriend so it took me a while to even refer to him as a boyfriend. He would pick me up from school and events I had to go to and I thought it was so nice. My parents loved him, my friends loved him, and his family loved me too. In fact, my friends wanted our relationship and would always tell me how lucky I was. I got especially close with his sister during this time too, and I distinctly remember her telling me that I should “be careful.” When I pushed her further, he suddenly walked into the room and she just called him a heartbreaker and laughed it off. I will never forget that look she gave me though. Other than that one encounter, it had been a fun, lighthearted relationship.
Things started changing around 6 months after I met him. He started getting so upset with me anytime I talked to a guy. Since I didn’t go to school with him, his best friend who went to my school would keep tabs on me for him. It was so gradual at first, like just some angry texts, but this progressed into verbal arguments and eventually physical abuse. Everything he had told me he loved about me, all the compliments, slowly turned into things I would grow to hate about myself.
My cheerleader uniform was short and fitted and I was required to wear it on certain days at school and to games. According to him this was a huge deal because he said I would only wear it for attention from guys. He started isolating me from my friends, and anytime I went anywhere with them it became a huge fight that sometimes would get physical. He had told me he loved how I was always willing to speak my mind, but eventually my “smart ass mouth” would result in a slap or being pushed into a wall and sometimes even a punch to an easily hidden location. My early hesitancy to have a boyfriend turned into him saying that I was a slut and wanted to fuck other guys.
We had a sexual relationship as well and that turned very dominating. There were times he even raped me if I would not comply. As his girlfriend, I was expected to do anything and everything he wanted, whenever he wanted it. On the last night we were together, I had just come back from visiting a university 4 hours away. My friend was having a rough week and against his threats I brought her to a party that his friend was throwing. She ended up saving my life. It was a super small party, maybe 15 people total were there, mostly his friends and a few people I passively knew from school. When I got there, he kept trying to get me to drink and I knew I was expected to take anything he gave me. However, something felt weird about this night. He was giving me way more than normal which was so unlike him because he didn’t want to risk me getting too drunk – I’m assuming out of the fear that I would tell people about our relationship. I started slowly pretending I was drinking, and he was completely sober though acting like he was drunk.
After a while, he wanted “to talk some place quiet,” so we went to his friends room. It was dark in there and I remember wanting to turn on the lights but he insisted I shouldn’t. He started coming on to me and I complied but then I heard something in the room, like someone breathing. I pushed him off and jumped up to turn on the light and there were like 3 guys in the room with us. I quickly tried to grab some of my clothes and run out but he stopped me, threw me on the bed and proceeded to rape me, in front of these guys. He was so violent and at one point punched me really hard in the face because I would not stop screaming. After a while, I went silent and tried to make him happy because I was so outnumbered and was afraid they wouldn’t let me leave. After he finished, he allowed me to go to the bathroom and I dressed, texted my friend to get her car ready to go, and ran out to the front of the house. He caught me before I made it to her car. There in the yard he proceeded to punch me multiple times in the face, fracturing my cheek, kicking me, breaking four ribs, and then was choking me. All of a sudden I heard this loud POP, and he fell off of me. My friend had hit him in the head with her bat and was pulling me up to get into the car. My parents, family, friends, and classmates were shocked. I ended up pressing charges but his family protected him by sending him to live with family in Mexico. He never faced justice in our legal system.
In the beginning I felt so good, loved even. In the middle, I felt trapped and thought that this was normal and I was crazy. This is how relationships work, I thought, I just needed to be better. After all was finally said and done and I recovered, I felt free. Today, I am happily married with two children and a dog. I feel amazing though I do have some triggers left that send me into an anxious state. I went through years of therapy to get to this point.
To anyone experiencing abuse… Keep one friend, one lifeline. If something seems wrong, listen to it. It won’t get better – it gets worse, ALWAYS!