It's not always physical.
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
I want to preface this by stating that nothing in my home life contributed to me thinking that the way I was treated was okay. My parents are loving, great people who tried to tell me something was wrong, but I wouldn’t listen.
Anyways, time to dive right in.
I met him in high school through friends who were dating. I’ll be honest, I was the type of person who constantly looked for love externally as I felt like I couldn’t create it for myself. I always had a very low self-esteem and didn’t think highly of myself. This is something that I still struggle with partially because of what I am about to tell you...
He was the perfect gentleman when everything began. I thought that I had met someone I would one day tell our kids about. I would tell them that we were high school sweethearts and we would have a cute story that ends with us in rocking chairs on a porch together. He was tall, good looking and charming. What else could a girl want?
When our friends broke up that's when things started to change. The isolation started. I was only supposed to side with him because my friends were wrong and his were right. I wasn’t allowed to see my friends anymore and with the lies he was feeding me, I didn’t want to. Then the comments started. They started small, like “I would rather you didn’t do that, it doesn’t seem right” and then morphed into control. The one that always sticks with me, even though it seems minor, is when I told Him that I was thinking about getting my hair cut and he replied with “No you’re not,!” Then followed it up with a gentle “I like it this way.” I conceded. He would do sweet things every so often if he saw me drifting from him. Like buying me a promise ring. Around this time he had a falling out with his friend because his friend thought I was changing him. I was then made to feel as though this was my fault. I caused all of this. I was all he had now. It became almost a 24/7 deal; I was with him CONSTANTLY.
A bit after this, some friends came in from out of town that I hadn’t seen since graduation. They wanted to see me and he was working. A perfect time! I could see them and when he was off, I would go to him. I told Him this and he was not happy. The messages started... “Why wouldn’t you just wait for me?” “Why do you NEED to see them?” “You don’t love me if you do this.” I started to tear up in front of my friend. He sat me down and asked what was happening. I told him, the first person ever, about the messages he would send. At that point, he grabbed my phone, turned it off and put it in his pocket. He looked me square in the eyes and told me to think if someone I loved was receiving these, how would I see it and how would I feel about it? I broke down. I told him that I hadn’t seen many, if any, of my friends in awhile as this is how he would react if I even tried. We sat and had a long, deep talk. He kept my phone while we hung out and told me to only turn it on when I was ready. I turned it on once I got home. I wanted to think on the drive. Within the span of 2-3 hours, I received 64 missed calls and 33 missed text messages. A lot of them were asking where I was, what I thought I was doing and how could I have respect for him or our relationship if I did this? There were some messages meant to scare, some trying to backpedal and make it seem like his love and concern was coming from a pure place. I told him I needed a break. I told him that I wasn’t breaking up with him, just that I needed time to think about where this was going. While I was thinking things through, I opened up to my family and told them what was going on. My parents told me they suspected something, but that I seemed happy and always had a smile on, so they were never truly sure. It was 2 days before I got the message that made my mind up.“Have you made up your mind? I have an event coming up and I need to know if I should include you.” That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It showed me that this wasn’t love. This was control, manipulation and just plain abuse. Over a year of it! I told him to meet me in Wascana and that I had made up my mind. I took my brother with me to ensure that I would be okay. I told Him it was over. He started to cry and promised he would do better. He would change. I kept my resolve and told him no. I was done.
We went our separate ways.
After this, it took me a bit to find who I truly was. I didn’t have someone to report my every move to. I didn’t have someone to tell me what would be the “right” thing to do. I called my friends and apologized and started seeing them again. I started to see what was done to me and how it affected me. Being 17, I thought that this only happened to adults in long time committed relationships. I wish that I had the ability then, to see what I do now. I would set my boundaries with him. If I could tell my younger self or anyone anything, it's to be proud of yourself! No one should have control over you except for yourself. Parents, if you think something is wrong within your child’s relationship, ask them. They may tell you everything is okay, like I did. But reassure them that you are there like mine did. I am glad that I had the support that I did after this. I came out for the better on this one as it taught me to hold myself high and not let anyone take advantage of me. I know that this isn’t always the case for others.
I’m in a loving marriage now with a beautiful daughter. I still have moments where I flash back to how I was. My husband is quick to convince me that I am where I need to be and that I am loved.
Abuse isn’t always physical and sometimes you can’t see the pain behind the smile.