Submitted by: Isabel, Survivor
Abusers often condition their victims to believe that no one would ever love or want them. They also use small doses of affection that give their partner false hopes that the relationship will work out. Combined with gaslighting, control, and intimidation, it is an effective way to make the abused partner feel like they have no choice but to stay or that they could not survive without their abuser.
Survivor Isabel shares with us how the abuse progressed and the struggles she faced when leaving her abuser. Find out how her family and friends played a crucial role in Isabel exiting the abusive relationship.
When Isabel was in her junior year of high school, she met a smart, respectful guy online. He was everything she had ever wanted in a guy. Right up until the very end of their relationship – and even after it ended – she believed that he would be the man she married.
Before things started getting bad, they were together for about a year. They began to argue all the time, and he yelled and screamed at her. Blocking her online and giving her the silent treatment was only one of the many ways she would get punished.
As the relationship progressed, the abuse escalated to physical violence.
One of the biggest fights they had was over his keys. Isabel had taken them and just wanted to talk calmly before he became angry. They were in the bathroom, and he had pushed her through the glass shower door. Isabel stood up and tried to calm him down. He then punched her, causing her head to hit against a tile.
Isabel tried to run, but he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her down. As he choked her, he screamed at her that he was going to kill her. When her vision went dark, he finally released his hands from her throat. She had dropped the keys earlier in the attack and did not understand why he continued the assault.
While they were together, there were many fights like this. He would bring Isabel down to her knees, and, at times, even spit at her. It was the most degrading thing someone could ever have done to her, and he did it frequently.
The emotional abuse Isabel endured conditioned her to believe that no one else would ever love her.
Even after they decided that they could no longer continue their relationship, Isabel felt like she needed him to breathe. She was so dependent upon the small amount of affection he gave her that losing him felt like it would be the end of the world. He always made her feel like she was worthless and could never be loved. Isabel always thought that even after she left, he was the only one that would ever love her.
“I was in an abusive relationship for 3 1/2 years. It wasn’t that I was too scared to leave him. I was scared of never being loved. My family and friends are what saved me. They saw the bruises peeking through the layers of makeup and finally told me that I couldn’t do this to myself anymore. They told me that I am worth more than this and that it hurts them to see me being treated that way.
“I was scared for my life that day. I thought I could take the punches, but I had never seen so much anger in him. He had never before threatened to kill me with his hands wrapped around my throat.”
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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