Why I stayed in an Abusive Relationship

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I thought I found my perfect guy later in college. He was smart, good-looking and funny.

We were close in age and were from the same area.

He was the guy who would skip classes or work so he could spend more time with me. He was the guy I had been looking for-so I thought.

What was even better about this scenario is that he pursued me. He sought me out and made the first move. I never had to wonder if he would call or text me or whether he would come home, but he always did. Sometimes it was in the early hours of the morning, which I could argue are today were terribly suspicious, but I’ll let that go today without sharing my sneaking suspicions.

He came into my life during a very chaotic time, but supported me and offered support when he could.

He had captured my heart.

The beginning of the relationship was fun and full of adventure. We made a lot of really great memories together.

It seemed like I had finally found the one.

At the age of 29 (almost 30), I’m still suffering from PTSD from my relationship even though it ended years ago. 

I had fallen irrevocably in love with a man who emotionally and sometimes physically abusive, and it didn’t occur to me that he was those things until the relationship was over. 

I didn’t see the warning signs at first. Call me naive, call it denial, love or whatever you want. An apology almost always followed following a confrontation as did my forgiveness.

I had been in previous relationships that weren’t great, so I made excuses for his behaviors because it wasn’t that bad, right? I defended him even when my family and friends had to fly to my aid to help me following a fight.

I’m a hopeless romantic, and because of that I see the good in people even when others fail to see it. It’s a flaw of mine that I’ve accepted but learned to dissect over the years.

After every fight, which over our time together progressed, we’d try ending it.

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But then we would decide to fight for it again. We searched for answers and for the next couple weeks, things were back to how they were in the beginning.

But old habits die hard, and our relationship would once again turn tumultuous and violent.

I used to tell myself that I deserved it. I always had put myself in bad situations and been too trusting in the past that had resulted in some shitty things to happen. This was karma.

I would blamed myself for everything. I would take full responsibility just to end an argument. He was rarely ever at fault…

Fortunately for me, a moment of clarity came to me when, after a fight where his hands ended up around my neck and my bedroom door being nearly broken down by my forever faithful best friend, I escaped from my apartment and ran outside. I stood on the sidewalk a blubbery mess when a neighbor came up to me who had heard the screaming and the commotion we had caused. I quickly wiped my eyes and apologized.

I was mortified.

He stood there for a moment in silence. We both did. Suddenly he said, “You know that you deserve better, right? I mean, that guy is an asshole!”

I laughed for a moment because his outspoken opinion had resonated with me in that moment.

We talked for a few more minutes before I returned to the mess I had walked out on. When I walked back into my apartment, I ended it with them.

As he stormed down the stairs his words echo, even to this day, in my head “But I fucking love you!”

I won’t lie and say that I didn’t take him back one more time. But the relationship did end later that summer.

I was scared of being alone. I was scared of starting over. I was scared of men and being hurt again.

I only started healing when I started confessing to people what had happened. I think I was scared, only at first, that people would tell me what I had so long denied: I had been in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship.

Even though the relationship has been over for years now, and I’ve been happily married for almost 5, the relationship still torments me to an extent. Certain things he said or did still make me cringe even though it’s not him who is doing or saying them. 

I find myself more accepting of what it was and more willing to tell others about it. Warning them. Encouraging them to get out. Telling other women that they deserve better.

All it took was one person to tell me that I deserved better for me to see it. Even though I didn’t act on my gut immediately when he told me that, I did later that summer. And I am so thankful for that late night encounter.

I certainly don’t have physical scars, but I do have scars from the emotional abuse. My fear is that there are so many other women out there who don’t recognize that they’re in abusive relationships.

There are days that I get angry with myself and ask myself why I didn’t recognize what the relationship was sooner. There are also days that I miss certain things about our relationship, but then I realize that some of the good things of the relationship came at my expense or willingness to change who I was to make him happy.

That temporary happiness we had came at my expense. I see that now.

Most people don’t know this individual, and I certainly won’t divulge that information, but for those who did know him and still do they may never have guessed they could have been like what I described. Some people may deny is entirely, while others (especially girlfriends after me, some of which I have personally heard from) may relate too.

I was that girl who hide herself behind fake smiles and closed doors. 

I will never forget the moments that I cried myself to sleep and turned off my phone to all those who were willing to help. I have worked tirelessly to regain my confidence. I still find myself cringing when a man raises his voice. I close my eyes every time I see a hand raised.

Those are the scars I’m referring to. I don’t think those scars can ever go away.

I implore all women (and men) who find themselves in a similar relationship to GET OUT!

There are people out there who can help you. You just have to have the voice and courage to ask.

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I stayed in the relationship because I didn’t know I deserved better.

YOU deserve better.

Picture Credits: Alex Hockett, Anita Peeples, Julia Ceasar

2 thoughts on “Why I stayed in an Abusive Relationship

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