- One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
- Women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence.
- More than 1 in 4 teenage girls in a relationship (26%) report enduring repeated verbal abuse.
Why did my guidance counselor warn me about the signs of an abusive relationship in the 6th grade, when I knew I would never come close to one?
Because I did.
Today, I am thinking about how good it felt to be madly in love with you. How good it felt to see you smile and laugh. I loved how we could be with each other, and leave a whole other world behind. I am thinking about that one time when we were out really late, and we just walked under streetlights, stirring ourselves up a future of hopes and ambitions. Today I am thinking about you. I remember how I loved to talk about the future. It’s strange though.. We never talked about the present.
For two years, I felt like I needed the approval and acceptance of you. And that was the biggest mistake I could have ever made. But it was my only mistake. It struck me that you were older than I was. My parents knew this too. Blue eyes that lit up your face, and a beautiful smile. Both were an illusion, though I was already blinded by what I thought was love, I could not see. You wanted to idolize me, and you strived to make me feel as important as possible, like a queen. There was no way I could ever see someone like you ever hurting anyone in any way. And that was your very first step in manipulation- to make me believe you were perfect.
I think about it now, and it was all ingenious, really. As if he made an elaborate plan before he even knew he was going to meet me. It feels like everything he did, had the purpose of manipulation. A year into the relationship, and he led me to believe I could not be any happier. A year into the relationship, he had led me to believe I was head over heels. A year into the relationship, and he led me to believe that a life without him, was no life at all. He knew I needed him. He loved that I needed him. He fed off of it for two, short, dreadfully interminable years.
Soon, after one year, I noticed changes. Changes in temper and mood, which I was led to believe were my fault. I knew he had self image issues, and I tried to comfort him with this. He told me he struggled with bullies when he was little. We both knew that he really did not like himself. It hurt him to see his best friend leave for college while he was stuck at home with his minimum wage paying job and mother, because he had no motivation to make himself feel or do better. And with time, these insecurities grew. And with time, so did his rage. And with the time of only one short year, I was a victim of his own personal demons. As though hurting me was going to put him through college and make him king of the world. I’m sure it felt like that to him. But the worst part was that I really wanted him to love himself.
I always wanted him to know that I thought I was so beautiful before I met him. I wanted to scream in his face, “Look what you’ve done to me!”. This achy body and restless mind is not my fault. I thought I was smart, and pretty, and my quirks were an okay thing. I loved myself so much, and he was absolutely disgusted that he didn’t love himself like I loved me. He was repulsed that I was not as sad as he was. He was nauseated that I would bypass him with my future of potential, while he stayed stationary, like a broken down car, on the side of a highway with others going 70mph. He made it his number one goal to bring me down as much as he had been. I slaved over trying to make things better for him, all while getting forced into a corner. I never knew why I was “disgusting”, when all I had did was knocked utensils off of a restaurant table. I wanted to know why I was so “ugly” when I spent my hour and a half putting on makeup and doing my hair, just for him? Why was I “worthless” when I hung out with my friends, and not him? Did it hurt him at all to see me cry as hard as I did? Or did it make him feel like he was becoming bigger than me? I knew that if I cried, he would patronize me, because “only babies cry”. But. When I cried hard enough, with hiccuping sobs, he would make half hearted attempts at apologies while flattening my hair with his hand against my head. I thought it was my fault that he was this angry. I thought it was my fault he was this sad. I thought everyday, “maybe if I were better”, “Oh why!? Why can I not be better?”. I wanted his acceptance, and his love. His love, especially. Something I never truly got. Something I do not ever want, now. He would bring me to the edge of my breaking point, balance me there, and pull me back, with apologies, all while bringing me down to his level. A place where I would meet and greet each and everyone of his demons.
It’s okay though. I promise. I am not mad at you at all, my dear ex boyfriend. I actually want to thank you so graciously. I do not want to tell you to “go to hell”, when you have been struggling with yourself there, for such a long time. I want to tell you, that I hope you make it out of that dark hole, like I found the light at the end of our relationship after being in that hole with you for so long. The world is here for you, but it will not stop for you. And neither will I. I have places to go, and places to see, and it was not there. I have grown as a person. I have met somebody new. Somebody that wants to see my potential flourish, rather than rot. I have told my mom about you, she has become my greatest friend. And I have learned so much more about myself since you’ve been gone. I just want the world to know, that you can make it out alive, and you can be better than before. Because every person in your life has a purpose. And you will grow with experiences, dark places, and light places. Never would I let you be a burden to me. I left your weight far behind. I let you lift me. I let you revive me. Because I am learning again, that I am beautiful, and I am worth something, just like you are too, who is reading. and just like you are too, my dear ex boyfriend. In the end, it is not me who needs true healing, all along it was you.
(Listen to your guidance counselor in the 6th grade. She was right ☺)