This was my first relationship, I thought this might be normal…

I had just moved with my family from Washington to California and I was meeting new people. I was hanging out with older college-age students. This person was a friend of a friend. In the beginning, things were perfect, lots of adventures and fun. We listened to lots of live music, made lots of trips to Santa Cruz, and went 4-wheeling in the mountains. We had lots of friends and were a part of group gatherings. My family loved him. He was handsome and charismatic.

I had a very unsteady home life, and he suggested I move in with him when I was 17. Almost instantly, I stopped showing up to school and had to switch to independent study. He was asking me to skip work as well. I went through a few jobs because of this. Then, he started asking me not to hang out with certain people. Before I knew it, I was isolated and alone. He started having outbursts which I thought was due to work or family issues (his parents went through a divorce while we were together when he was 22). Then, slowly this turned into holding me against my will, followed by throwing me around, and then eventually rape. He would also drive erratically to scare me. This slowly escalated over years. He was having many affairs while he was out of town on work trips and even though I think I knew, I was a na├»ve young girl. When he was out of town, I had to be home not doing anything – which I obeyed scared of what he would do if he found out. It was a small town.

It wasn’t until after almost 4 years that I cut off our relationship after a series of attacks. He then stalked me and would sit on my car insisting I follow him places until I would call the police. The last time this happened, I saw him while I was walking out of a restaurant. I ran to my car and locked the doors while I saw him getting out of his car and running towards me. I had a sinking feeling he planned to kill me that day. I moved out of state this very day and never looked back.

During that time, I felt confused because I was still head over heels and my family loved him. I was young and this was my first real relationship. I thought this might be normal. Looking back, I feel sad and depressed for that girl who had no one, who didn’t know what to do. But I’m also proud I made it out. I am just starting to feel this, to open up and deal with the feelings I’ve locked away for 12 years.

To anyone experiencing abuse… Don’t let anyone isolate you, know this is one of the first signs. Your family and friends matter and they love you.

Amanda B.