We met through a mutual friend, and he quickly turned into my best friend. I enjoyed our conversations and his companionship. At the time, I was going through a lot and he was very understanding. He took care of me. I had never been with anyone who took care of me before. I was always the one caring for others, so it felt good.
However, everything escalated very quickly. It was small things at first. “Don’t do this, don’t do that.. make sure you do this… I don’t like this friend… It is your fault I am mad…” He would get mad at the smallest things, even things outside of my control. I was confused. I had never met someone with such a short fuse. Then he would get mad that I was hanging out with friends when he was work. He would get mad that I wanted to have a drink with friends. Then he would show up at the bar and make a scene. He got into a car accident because he was driving reckless, then yelled at me in a restaurant, “It is your fault, I did not even want to go out.” He got into arguments with my friends and isolated me from them.
To try and make up for his behavior, he started taking anger management. All that did was give him an excuse to stay in my life. He wouldn’t let me find a job after my internship ended. He made me financially dependent on him. I have been around and seen domestic violence my entire life. I thought because he wasn’t physically abusive, I could handle it. But if he ever laid a finger on me, I’d leave him for good. I finally realized he was escalating to that point. His normal threats weren’t working on me anymore. I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the car, touch my phone, or I’d be cornered in a room. He did what he could to make me feel unsafe. But I started fighting back, by ignoring him, calling the police if he didn’t leave, acting like I didn’t care if he was mad… I even got to the point where I punched him hard across the face when he backed me into a corner (and I don’t regret it).
He started breaking my things because he realized that got a reaction out of me more than him yelling. He stepped on my glasses that I needed, and the next day bought me new ones. When I finally broke up with him and got him to leave my house, he snapped my MacBook in half before leaving. Then again, bought me another one hoping I’d take him back. When that didn’t work, he broke into my house and stole a cat he got me as a gift. I was furious. But that is what he wanted. So I let her go, I accepted that she was being used as a pawn and that his parents would take good care of her. I finally decided that I would do everything I could to make sure he couldn’t wiggle his way back to my life, no matter how much it hurt
It all happened so fast that I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on in my relationship. There were so many things happening in my life, that I didn’t realize how much this was escalating. I felt scared, confused, alone, ashamed, angry, helpless. But after, I felt amazing. I felt stronger and happier. Embarrassingly, I did feel alone, too. I lost a prominent person in my life (and some friends along the way). But there was an overwhelming sense of relief, freedom, and peace that made the lonely feeling worth it.
It has now been almost two years and I am still recovering emotionally. I never thought of myself as a domestic abuse victim (I am still not sure if I do). Reflecting on what happened has helped me to heal. I decided that this experience has showed me what I definitely do not want in a partner. It taught me to set expectations for a relationship and stick to it. It also taught me to not make excuses for other people and things will not get better with time. These are some of the things I try to keep in mind when getting to know someone. What also helped me to heal was being alone. I have learned how to enjoy its peace and that I am not willing to be with someone who aggressively disturbs that peace.
To anyone experiencing abuse… Never make the excuse that things will get better. Do not be afraid to ask for help to leave.