We offiically met in high school, though he was just an acquaintance at the time. He was a few years older than I and continued to graduate and serve and LDS mission. I continued high school. When he returned from serving an honorable mission in Guatemala, I was in my Senior Year of high school. We started by texting, and then officially went on our first date in November of 2017 and started officially dating exclusively very soon after.
He was the man I had always dreamed of. He was tall, dark, and VERY handsome. He was an older college guy, which is always appealing for a high school student that is a hopeless romantic such as myself. He liked to do all the things I liked to do, enjoyed my family, took me out every weekend on very expensive and luxurious dates. showered me with gifts and compliments. He made me such a priority, and would come running whenever I needed anything. Needless to say I was head over heels for this man. I had never been in love, but I was certain this is how it was supposed to be. We started talking about continuing our relationship through marriage very quickly, and were constantly buying furniture together for our future home and spending hours looking through engagement rings. We spent the entire summer together following my high school graduation, and then I enrolled at the same College as he was currently attending and bought an apartment just a block away. It couldn’t have seemed more perfect.
Things went from perfect, to good, to bad, to worse over a long period of time. It didn’t happen overnight. It all started with small things, such as telling me, “I know you said you are going with all your friends, I just really want to see you tonight” so of course I would cancel. well one night turned into every night very quickly and we were spending every possible second together. It was very obvious to me that by the time I finished high school, there were not many people that I didn’t push away. I had no other friends. The only person I had was my boyfriend and future abuser. I had no idea this was supposed to be a “red flag” but instead I was told by him that it was a way to prepare me for marriage and show that although I was only 18, I was ready to be with him forever.
He asked me to sacrifice everything. And sacrifice everything was exactly what I did. I was put on a leadership team at my college, to which he did not like, and I was forbidden to make lasting relationships with the team and spend extra time with them. although every relationship was fully developing without me. Most of the members didn’t even know my name. I would constantly be asking him about this, but again I was preparing for a lasting marriage, and didn’t need to be socializing. I lived in my bedroom in my apartment. Living with six girls was supposed to be the college experience I had always dreamed of, but after he decided he didn’t like them, I was not allowed to socialize with them more than absolutely necessary.
If spending every moment together wasn’t enough, I was constantly glued to my phone. I had to be telling him my every move and where I was going and what I was doing. He paid for the gas in my car, and would frequently track the miles put on the car each day to see if I was being truthful. The yelling got to the extreme, and he would frequently come pick me up, yell at me, drop me off in a field in the middle of nowhere, and then make me walk home where a note that usually read “I love you, I will change, and I’m sorry” was waiting for me on my nightstand. He hated the fact other boys would talk to me, look at me, and be with me in any kind of way. although I would constantly be assuring him my heart lies with only him, this wasn’t enough, and I was not allowed to be sitting next to any man in my college classes. and on occasion would be asked to send a picture of where I was in the classroom. If I was put into a class group with boys, I was to message the professor and ask for a group change.
The yelling was a constant occurrence in our relationship and I was ultimately the problem in his eyes. I was told nobody would ever be able to put up with me like he does, that I am worthless without him, that I cannot leave him or he would seriously hurt himself. I was told that friends are not important, and the only thing that should really matter in my life was him, and I needed to do everything in my power to keep him happy and around so we could get married. Every problem that occurred in our relationship was “my fault” and no matter what we were arguing about I always was told to apologize. He would beat me in the middle of the night because I was “talking about cheating on him in my sleep”. If I ever felt like I had enough for the day and would yell back, he would take my phone, computer, and car keys and keep them hostage until I would come apologize to him. I would frequently get bruises on my petite arms from his iron grasp to make me aware of just how angry he was with me. He would look at me with such anger and hatred that I was scared of what would happen once we were alone. I was scared, but I loved this man so much, that I would do anything, say anything, and put up with anything to be with him. He was my entire world, and I didn’t allow anyone to tell me otherwise. I was constantly making excuses for his behavior to those around me, and would always reply to their concerned comments with, “he’s just having a bad day, he really is such a good guy”.
If people were to talk to me about their thoughts on the relationship, they were “toxic to our love” and I was to never speak to them again. the constant battle of trying to save his public face and getting pushed around and yelled at in our private time together was exhausting. But I loved him, so I would do it. We had our final and official ending on February 20, 2018. This was my sixth or seventh attempt at breaking up with him, but I was committed this time. although the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life, I felt like this relationship was not what I thought love should be, and certainly not what I wanted the rest of my life to be. After the final goodbye, and the weeks spent crying over the loss of my entire world, I had never felt more free.
While the abuse was actually happening, I would feel scared. Scared that he was going to leave me and I would be alone. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to make it work. I wanted to be perfect like he was asking me to be. But I was miserable. I would cry all the time, and always felt down. I had lost sight of what I really wanted out of life, and the bubbly person I was had turned into this robot of serving her master. I wanted nothing more than to make him happy, and show him I was worthy of being with him. Towards the end of the relationship, I was mad. every time he would yell at me, I would feel sad, and then afterward get really worked up and get angry at him over the way he was treating me and the things he was asking me to do. After we broke up, I had never felt so strong, so powerful, so independent, or so FREE. It was a breath of relief and the old bubbly, fun, witty, strong me was back. Life turned into this whole new perspective which I gained goals, and dreams, and life was centered around me again. I was able to choose for myself, and do what I want, and as a 20 year old girl, nothing could have been better for me.
I honestly have not fully recovered over this relationship. I have a really hard time trusting men and have not allowed a relationship to fully develop since. I don’t let anyone control me the way I let my abuser run my everyday life. I am ME and nobody can take that away from me again. Something that has really helped me heal is taking a step back and realizing what really happened to me. I share my story with close friends, and am constantly looking for those same red flags in the relationships around me. I honestly am a better person because of what happened to me, and plan to help those around me to see what kind of a person I really am, and nothing can hold me back.
To anyone experiencing abuse… LISTEN TO THOSE AROUND YOU. as much as you might think you know best, your friends and family can see the problems in relationships way before you can. Stop excusing their behavior and step up. step up to really putting your life in your hands. don’t let others choose for you. you are strong. you are beautiful. and you are important. you can do this. decide for yourself what you want and run with it. Life is so short, and you can’t waste it being miserable and sad. your abuser will not change, if your relationship is anything like mine, then being told “I will change, I will be better” is fed to you on a daily basis, but the hard truth is THEY WONT. it won’t get better. Remove people and things from your life that are toxic to your personality. most importantly, be your own sunshine. don’t let others control your happiness but rather create it within yourself. be selfish. be your own best friend. This is your life live it the way you want to. stop putting up with these bad habits and run away. stop ignoring the red flags and get up and move on. its much easier said than done, but you can, and you are strong enough. The sun will shine, and it will be because of you.