October means apple picking, leaves falling, and Halloween, but it also represents something much more serious. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an issue that is commonly swept under the rug. I am proud to be a sister of Alpha Chi Omega, a sorority that devotes our time to raising awareness for such an important cause.
I am not only an ally for survivors, I am a survivor. This is not something I’ve talked about publicly before because I have not felt ready to. To be honest, I still don’t feel ready to. However, if this post can help just one person, publishing it will be worth it.
Every relationship is different but emotionally abusive relationships tend to have patterns. Here is a list of signs that I noticed in one of my past relationships:
Signs to Look For
- Your friends and/or family don’t like them
- You constantly feel like you need to defend them
- You are always blamed, no matter the situation
- Your actions are never satisfactory
- You are yelled at
- You are insulted
- You don’t feel secure in your relationship
- Your partner thinks they are better than you
- Your partner is rude to other important people in your life
You are not alone
If you are experiencing any of these signs in your relationship (and this is not an exhaustive list), you are not alone. Please do not feel like you are stuck in your relationship or that it is the best you will get. That is exactly how I felt and I was wrong. I’ve been apart from my ex for over a year now, and I am so much happier. With that being said, here is my story.
My first relationship
I had no idea what to expect when entering my first relationship. It was the end of my senior year of high school, and a friend of a friend started to show interest in me. Soon, he was my boyfriend and I was over the moon. Boys had never shown interest in me before. I finally felt special. Things were great at first. His parents liked me, he got along with my friends, and we seemed to have a lot in common.
About a month into the relationship, one of my best friends noticed that he was not the person we thought he was. He began disrespecting my friends and shouting at me. My friend had a serious problem with this and I did not want to date someone who would mess our friendship up. I was seriously considering breaking up with him, and I think he was aware of this. One night as he walked me back to my car, he told me he loved me.
At 17 years old, I thought that those three words meant everything. If someone loves you, they love you. There’s nothing stronger than love. I said it back and immediately changed my mind about breaking up with him. I now realize that even if he did love me, the timing of him telling me that was manipulative.
I continued to date him and pretend that everything was okay. I brushed off all of his negative attributes and constantly defended him to my friends and parents. I mean, if he loved me, everything was okay, right?
Wrong. The signs of emotional abuse only got worse and worse. In February 2016, I began thinking about breaking up with him again. I couldn’t handle being yelled at or defending him anymore. The breaking point came in April when he told me that I needed to “grow up” while I was having a panic attack. Even though I knew in April things had to end, it took me until September to finally break things off. I told him that I wanted to experience college alone. He told me “okay,” and I walked away. We haven’t exchanged words since.
I thought when I broke up with him, everything would be okay. I would keep striving in school, I would continue having my amazing friendships, and I would be happy. However, through my two-and-a-half-year long relationship, I grew extremely dependent on him. I didn’t know what to do now that I didn’t have a boyfriend. I quickly attached myself to another boy. When things ended with him, my anxiety went through the roof and I was diagnosed with depression. (Sidenote: This boy & I are on good terms & he reads my blog! I’m glad we are still friends despite a romantic relationship not working out.) My junior year of college was the hardest time of my life and my grades plummeted.
After seeking therapy and beginning medication, things began to improve. My spring semester, I got an amazing little in my sorority who I love to pieces. I know I can always count on her, and the rest of my close friends, for support. At the end of the semester, I started dating Tommy, my current boyfriend. I am happy to say that our relationship is healthy and we are both supportive of each other.
For anyone going through a similar situation, you are strong and you will get through this. You deserve the best.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Dating Abuse Helpline
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Always feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.