He gave me so much attention. So much ‘love’. I couldn’t get enough.
He wanted to see me every day. College became difficult though; I had to stop hanging around with guy friends to be ‘a loyal girlfriend’.
Before I knew it, I had no friends. He rang me for the tenth time that day – just a few minutes after the last call.
“I’m not with anyone.”
“You better not be lying.”
I moved in with him. College became unbearable; I quit. He kept reminding me that it was my choice, my fault, my failure.
When I went to work I always had to be in contact with him. I wasn’t allowed to buy food as he said it would be selfish – me eating when he was not. He accused me of cheating and lying.
He tormented me so much I gave myself a concussion from trying to knock myself out.
He’d follow me around, shouting. He kicked me, threw me across rooms, pushed me. Those punches – ‘play fighting’, he said – left bruises.
Soon, apart from work, I wasn’t allowed to go out. He’d humiliate me, calling me names. I’d be in the shower and he’d turn it off. He would rip my towel and clothes off me. He’d follow me to work. He smashed mirrors, the oven, my phone. He punched holes in walls and locked me in the house. If I tried to leave, he’d rip my shoes off.
I lost contact with friends and family. The suicide threats from him were abundant, alongside the very real threat of killing me. I got so low that I found it near impossible to speak. I never knew I’d been sexually assaulted until after I left and the police told me. My mind was so manipulated that I thought I deserved it.
This is my message: if you know someone in an abusive relationship, support them. Help them try to see what’s going on, but never try to push them into anything.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, I know it’s very difficult to spot the signs early on – but now you know some of them, act on that instinct and get out. The easiest way to see if your relationship is poisonous is to ask yourself, “How do they make me feel about myself?”
And please, tell someone. This is about finding our voices again, after having had them taken away for so long.