Written by: BTSADV Survivor
When I first met him, I was a short, small-town, fourteen-year-old girl who was swept off my feet by his charm and sweet words. I felt like the princess he would tell me I was. After being interested in him for a year, he took me to a movie and asked me out.
He had placed me upon a pedestal and given me the acceptance that I wasn’t receiving from my parents. I had grown up with depression and anxiety as a result of my parents’ divorce, but because of his blended family, I didn’t feel so alone. We had many similar interests and being wanted by someone a year older boosted my confidence. I believed the happy ending would last forever. After a year into our relationship, the fairytale soured.
It began with his relentless cheating and blaming me for it. I was barely fifteen at the time when he had slept with his best friend. He said that it was my fault because I wasn’t satisfying him, and I didn’t understand his needs. I believed every word he said, almost clinging to it as if it was the gospel truth. He would build me up and then tear me back down. I felt so ugly and stopped eating, yet I felt that I was beautiful to only him.
He made sure he was my only friend because none of my girlfriends could stand his arrogance or his outbursts. They grew tired of my crying about him and decided it was best not to include me in plans. Eventually, I was isolated and felt that my abuser was the sole light and savior of my life, despite his habit of yelling at me constantly and sleeping with other people, including my friends. I was so mistaken and naive.
In the summer after I turned sixteen, I gave in to his demands, and he took my virginity. I have almost no idea what happened that night, but I also had no idea that because I was coerced, it was rape. After the initial rape, violence escalated in our relationship. It was known to everyone in our small-town high school that he had a temper. You weren’t a classmate if you hadn’t seen one of his outbursts of screaming and crying.
The first hit was a result of him beating on his steering wheel before turning to me to hit me as well. I excused it as an accident. It escalated to the point he had pushed me down the stairs in front of his stepmother and younger sister because he didn’t receive the lead role in our school’s musical.
After this, his demands in our sexual relationship began making me very uncomfortable. He loved to degrade and humiliate me until I cried. One of the most prominent memories from this time is having a belt around my neck while he forced my head into the grass near the lake recreation area fifteen miles from my house.
Another time, he cut my legs with a small knife from the kitchen, leaving thin cuts that bled only a little, and he told me that if I moved or struggled, he’d cut more. His only ritual that continued was setting a timer afterward where he demanded I held him. When the timer went off, he pushed me to the floor.
As much as I wanted to get out, we were just an “on and off” couple to my classmates and friends; even my teachers were aware that if I was crying, it was probably just because of him. He continued to throw things at me, yell at me, cheat on me, and rape me during and after school in the music room and auditorium. My first escape came because I had shouted a refusal at him. We were in the lunchroom with other students and faculty when he began yelling at me, ordering me to sit by him. I didn’t even mean to, but I shouted no.
After realizing what I had done, I ran down the hall to our band rehearsal room. He chased after me, screaming my name. When he caught up with me, he threw our phones and cornered me by the area where I kept my instrument, wrapped his hands around my throat, and held me there while he screamed into my face. I don’t remember what he said or what happened afterward, but his friends found me curled up on the ground and walked me to class. After school, they walked me to my car and agreed to keep him away from me during and after school.
I wish it ended simply there, but as his graduation approached, the more I realized I would miss him and the familiarity of our chaos. We slept together again after his graduation party. It was after this that I realized how bad everything was. Before he could push me on the floor when the timer rang, I got up and ran out the door to my car with my clothes in my hands. I drove home, sobbing.
I wanted so badly to have the fairytale, high school sweetheart of forever, but not everyone’s high school sweetheart is so sweet. It’s taken me over four years to fully grasp the severity of my first relationship and the aftermath of it all. To this day, I still wake up in sweats from nightmares, and I have irrational fears that will send me cowering in a corner.
However, finding my voice as an advocate in my area for other survivors has helped me find my own voice. I am exploring a healthy relationship for the first time, writing again, and enjoying my life authentically without fear.
I want other young girls to know that they are never alone and that their age does not make them insignificant. I want to end the romanticization of abusive, controlling behavior in young relationships. The poems and songs about love being painful are wrong. Love doesn’t hurt; abuse does.
**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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