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17 Years Since I started Over


*Content warning for talk of abuse and domestic violence*

Today marks 17 years since I escaped the clutches of my abuser (ex-boyfriend) once and for all. I often tell a sort of cliff notes version of my abuse story, but the truth is, even after I moved twenty miles away, he still kept popping into my life now and then. It wasn’t until I got a new job without his knowledge that I began to finally break away. And even then it wasn’t until he found out where I worked (my grandma didn’t know it was a secret, nor that he was abusive) and showed up to try to take me by force that it was finally and truly over.

He showed up at the music store I had been working at for awhile with blood all over his shirt. He first beat up my roommates in order to find out where I worked. They knew, but luckily did not tell him. Then when he found out from my grandma he showed up and tried to grab me from behind the counter. My coworker yelled at him from across the store, I screamed when he grabbed my hair and arm and fortunately my boss was in the back room (even though it was his day off), heard the commotion and threw his ass out! Security came and physically removed him and banned him from returning with the threat of arrest. And just like that, it was over. I never saw or heard from him again!
The troubling part of all of this for me, in retrospect, is that some people did know and no one ever offered to help. No one ever told me that I should or could leave him or that I had any other choice. He threatened the lives of myself and my entire family every single day. I feared that if they found out about his abuse that all hell would break loose. My dad didn’t know, but I still have a hard time with that part. I was fourteen years old when my dad let my abusive boyfriend move in with us, in our family home. FOURTEEN?!?! This “boyfriend” was twenty-one, to give some perspective here. I did give my dad an ultimatum, that the boyfriend move in or we’d run away together.
I’m sure my dad felt he had no choice at that time, my mom had only left us a year prior and we were all still adjusting. I had only “dated” this boy for a couple of months before this ultimatum. Yet somehow it never occurred to my dad to call the police or seek therapy or anything at all. We were poor. Access to things was beyond limited. On top of that, my grandpa was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s and required constant care and supervision. But there is a part of me that simply resents the fact that he didn’t protect me. Certainly there weren’t enough spoons for any of us  back then.
I’m confident that my dad didn’t know about the physical abuse, though. Or he’s truly a terrible person. Any time I do see him, my dad, he brings up my abuser by name. I have asked him repeatedly to not, event threatened to bring up my birth mom every time he does…he still does it. Why haven’t I told him? Fear and not wanting to even go there, ya know? I fear him not believing me. I don’t want to relive or recount all of that either. My PTSD symptoms are so few now days that I forget sometimes that I even have it.
After that fateful day it took me several months before I could sleep through the night. Even after I met my (now ex-) husband, I would wake up several times a night and have to stare at his face for stretches of time to make sure it wasn’t my abuser. I still occasionally wake up and not know where I am or think I’m back with my abuser somehow. Those are the worst nights! I stopped constantly looking over my shoulder maybe six years after it was over. The dreams of him chasing me down through endless alleyways and malls and other labyrinthian-like places were almost nightly until about 8 or so years later. To this day when a male voice is raised I instinctively curl into a ball in a corner or bathroom and cry in a very different way than my natural cry (more shriek-y, I would say).
People have asked me what I would have done differently and I don’t know that I could have. You have to understand the immense pressure and stress I was under. I was basically a hostage in my own home. I was forced to drop out of high school (not that I cared much, I hated high school) and every aspect of my life was controlled by my abuser. What I wore, where I went, what I ate and who I spoke to. I was forced to not talk to my friends and to never see them. Somehow my bff “Q” was okay for me to talk to and she was truly the only person I kept in touch with during those awful five years of misery. I would fantasize about escape, being saved, even suicide…anything to end it.
My entire identity was erased, I had nothing of my own and when it was all over I had to start from scratch. I didn’t have the typical adolescence everyone else did. Suddenly I went from fourteen to nineteen and had no idea if there was room for me in the world in the aftermath. There were signs before it got bad, though. First he would insist I end my male friendships, period. Platonic or not, they all had to go. I lost a dear friend because of this. We got back in touch a few years ago, but ended up not staying in touch for long, unfortunately. I suddenly stopped hanging out with friends and going to dances and parties. Then my phone calls became limited and eventually timed and monitored. No one seemed to notice and I was too afraid to speak up. You’d think my dad would have noticed, that my best and closest friends would have noticed, but if they did no one ever said a word to me about it. One friend even witnessed him beating me up and she said nothing and told no one. I guess it’s easier to say and do nothing in the face of violence, but we grew up together and I had looked up to her until then.
I wanted to mark this day and share my story once again because I want people to know that it can happen to anyone. You won’t see it coming, but if you listen to your gut and don’t ignore your instincts, you don’t have to get stuck there. Had I listened to my gut I never would have met that person to begin with, something told me not to return the phone call from my frenemy back then, but I did it anyway. To be polite? I don’t even remember now. Maybe just morbid curiosity.
When I tell people even a smidgen of what I went through they cannot believe it simply because of my current life and demeanor. But that is years and years of self work, yo! Not to mention the immense amount of support I get from my chosen family (friends).
Here’s to healing and surviving and becoming who we’re meant to be, not what other’s think we should be.
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One Comment to

“17 Years Since I started Over”

  1. On June 17th, 2014 at 2:16 pm Anna marie Says:

    How could no one comment on this?

    I really feel you, having been in two abusive relationships. One lasted 2 years, the other lasted a month or less but he became an evil stalker, calling me and threatening me and my family for leaving him. Having insomnia panic atacks & nightmares for 2 years of him showing up out of nowhere and doing the things he said.

    I have come to the conclusion that it’s part of a person’s programming to attract bullies in all aspects of life. Its all about how we view our self as an individual and as part of the society.
    In the case of a mad/obsessed person like the one you described a big “NO” in front of their face is the best thing to do. It’s never too late to show your boundaries. If he doesn’t get it the first time you he certainly will the second one since you will also threaten to call the police.
    Going with his waters out of fear is what feeds these person’s sadistic urges.
    The weaker and more passive we look the more we attract these kind of people or you can say the more we awaken these hidden feelings on them:
    When someone who has this suppressed tendency in him is not put in place at first he can go overboard and become the sadist he always wanted but society never allowed him to be. Oppression creates oppression. These persons are fueled by big insecurities of not being strong enough or dominant enough and probably where also mistreated in their childhood so they find justice through emotional and physical abuse of others as a way to feel better with them selves. Its easy to play hard on a naturally weaker person as a woman.

    I am really glad for you and your life being better these days. I like to see people being optimistic and full of life.

    p.s i wish my boyfriend gave me flowers afterwards 😛

    Stay safe & God bless you!

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