I was abused by my biological father, as well as a guy I was dating my first year of college. My biological father was always abusive, even before I was born. Before any physical harm, I watched it happen to both my mother and older sister. The guy I dated in college – everything was too good to be true in the beginning. After about 4 months of dating, things began to change.
He was constantly complaining about the friends I would hang out with, including my college roommates. He didn’t want me spending time with anyone he didn’t know. I started to get really sick and he would start to tell me I was lying about being sick. He told me that my college job was worthless and that no one viewed me as a professional. He was always telling me what to do with my life and what not to do. I listened because I truly believed I loved him – and maybe I did and that’s what made it so hard to leave.
Things got much worse when I started working at a bar on the weekends to make extra money. He kept threatening to break up with me unless I quit that job…..so I did. He told me it was for my betterment. The accusing didn’t stop there. He would start twisting stories about me staying at my parents or having doctors’ appointments, saying that I was lying and used a lot of derogatory terms to make me feel like I had done something wrong. I chalked it up to him having a stressful time at school. At one point, he broke up with me then a month later called to apologize and asked if I would get back together. I unfortunately did.
At this point I was at the peak of my illness and finally getting a diagnosis. He still didn’t believe I was telling the truth about it. I ended up failing two classes that semester, quitting jobs I loved, and losing friends because I never left my room/apartment. It wasn’t until I was prepping for two major surgeries that I found out I had an STD and would have to push off my surgeries. I did not understand since the only person I had been sexually active with was him.
After telling him and asking if he had been with anyone, maybe even while we were broken up, he completely lost it. He called me up the night before my surgeries and told me I was the worst mistake he’s ever made and broke off contact with me. When I woke up from my surgeries and in recovery, I went home and found an email from him, a seven page PDF titled “Why You Are The Biggest Cunt I Have Ever Met.” It was full of hurtful things and weird sayings – like that I was jealous of his 7 year old sister and how he loved her more than he loved me. At that point, I realized he was beyond toxic and cut off all contact. I have only seen him a few more times, and one of the times he pushed me down the stairs trying to get me out of the house I had been in to visit some friends (he happened to be there), and the second time he showed up at my apartment complex and yelled derogatory terms at me.
During the year stint of our relationship, I blamed myself for being a stressor or not being good enough. Finally, after it ended I felt relief. Looking back, I know it was toxic and that if I would’ve continued to pursue that relationship, it could’ve ended much worse for me. I am unsure why I turned a blind eye to the emotional and verbal abuse. For years, I held onto the letter he wrote me and kept it as a reminder never to go back to that. It took me a while to trust anyone and I built walls around many relationships. I know now the signs to look for. I thought I would know them after growing up with a manipulative abusive father, but I do not think I had healed from my childhood traumas enough to know how to handle young adulthood trauma. To heal, I focus on the relationships I have that are healthy and build on self care. I deleted that email a few years ago. It has taken a long time to look in the mirror and not see those words that abusive guy painted me as.
To anyone experiencing abuse… Understand you are worth more than the abuse given. It can be hard to recognize sometimes, but once you do, it’s life changing. Go seek help from those relationships that do not exhibit signs of abuse. Talk to a counselor or therapist about the trauma and figure out the best ways to release that trauma from continuing to control your life. None of it is going to be easy, but I can say, it is worth it.