Most people don’t know this, but I have been in abusive relationships. Not in the sense that they ever hit me, but they did tear me down with their words and there was one that involved sexual abuse. I will not go into the details, mainly because there is no reason to. But when I tell people about the sexual abuse, I’ve gotten the same question- “Why did you stay? Why did you let it go on for so long?” Which is absolutely a valid question. I asked myself that for a long time after the relationship and I finally figured out the answer.
No, he never cursed at me or directly insulted me. It was nothing radical or exponential; it was a slow change and painful brainwashing. He made me feel guilty for actions or emotions that either weren’t mine or that I should not have felt guilty for. There might be some people thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Well, I never felt like my emotions were valid. Whenever he did something to upset me, I never said anything because it was probably my fault. I never felt good enough for him, when really, it was the other way around. He made me feel as though I was a pain to put up with and he was the only boy I could find that would stay with me. So, I got nice and comfortable and I stayed. I stayed despite the suspected cheating. I stayed despite the constant fear that he was going to rape me because he didn’t understand ‘no’ because apparently my body was saying ‘yes’. I stayed even though I couldn’t breathe when he got too close.
I was able to get some time away from him and understand a tip of the iceberg. I realized I wasn’t happy and it was because of him. I was advancing where I was but I felt the need to stay stuck because he wasn’t motivated to do shit. That’s where I drew the line; nobody is going to hold me back. It wasn’t until I left and went to therapy that I realized how terrible it was and how much damage he did; damage that I’m dealing with a year and a half after leaving. The wounds are healed but the scars are still there to remind me that no man will treat me like that again and it was never my fault.