I learned how to manage it. It became my normal everyday life…

We met at youth group at the age of 12 and started dating. Things were blissful. He was kind, sweet, very thoughtful, encouraging, extremely charming and everyone loved him. There was no signs or issues with verbal or physical abuse. I felt safe.

When we were 18 is when the control, verbal and physical abuse started. It started with the control. He convinced me to move out of my amazing family’s home to another state by saying they didn’t understand or agree with our relationship (really my family just didn’t want me moving in with a guy at 18 to a whole new state with no plan and no job). He said he wanted to start a whole new life with me and live our lives to the fullest in the California. We moved and then I started to notice every time I would talk to or even about my family he would get upset and say how could I ever talk to people who didn’t support him or us. I started to make friends in CA but could never actually hang out with them because he said he didn’t trust them or me (he had absolutely no reason to not trust either).

Then the verbal abuse started. If I didn’t make his food the way he wanted he would call me names and belittle me, so I tried to be perfect and never upset him and do everything just the way he liked. The first time the abuse became physical was because a high school guy friend had reached out to me via Facebook just to catch up. It was completely innocent as we had been friends a very long time. He started screaming and grabbed me by the throat and lifted me up against the wall. From there, it just got worse. It could be over the tiniest thing or even if I did nothing and he was just stressed from work and largely if I was tired or sick and did not want to have sex.

It would sometimes stop for a number of months then pick back up – it’s like it came in waves. It was everything from throwing me on the ground to throwing objects at me, punching things around me, choking, squeezing and shaking my whole body, and closed fist punching and even pinching till I screamed. This was almost always immediately followed by what seemed as deep remorse and bawling saying he was so sorry and he was disgusted with himself. It was not always in private either. He would do this at friends’ houses and even families’ or in the car as long as we were not directly seen by people around us. A lot of the time they were just in the next room.

During the relationship, I felt honestly largely numb. It had been going on for so long it just became my normal everyday life. I learned how to try and manage it and always knew when it was coming. There were times when a co-worker or friend would talk about their spouse and how amazing they were and I would long for that and feel sad but mostly numb. I had accepted that this is just what my life would be like forever and made a lot of excuses for his behavior. After we separated, I felt sad and even guilty for a long time. But in starting my life over without the abuse, I slowly started to feel free and saw life for the beautiful thing it is.

Today and everyday I feel blessed to be alive. I know that there is a purpose for what I went through and overcame, to help others in the same situation. How I healed and continue to heal is first and foremost the love of Jesus, my amazing family’s and friends’ support, counseling and hearing others’ stories.

To anyone experiencing abuse… There is always hope and you you can have a life free of abuse and fear. If you have a friend or family that you can stay with (if you live with your abuser) or trust, TELL THEM. Just tell them, even if you don’t share details, even if its just a text saying “so and so hurt me physically or emotionally today and I don’t know what to do.” Just push send because then that’s it. It’s sent and the person you trust knows and will help in any and every way they can. If you don’t trust someone, literally google “what to do if you are being abused.” You will see a flood of resources globally and in your area with people whose whole job and life purpose is to get you SAFE. Stop making excuses for them. They will not change and it is not your fault. No matter what you did or did not do, physical and emotional abuse is NEVER warranted. You can have a full and beautiful life no matter how long you have been together, with or without kids, you deserve to feel safe and have a full life.

Brooke M.