I wrote the other day about how people such as myself endured an abusive relationship for a long period of time. It’s a very misunderstood situation. It’s very easy to say that someone is stupid for staying. But being abused is almost like a Stockholm syndrome- but in reverse order. It’s a mind game first, abuse later. None of the stuff I went through started on day one. If it had, I would have been like “wow, this guy is a psycho” and been out.
It didn’t happen that way though. It took conditioning by him to get me to that point. I actually learned a lot about the process a perpetrator will use when I interviewed psychologists and physicians last fall for an article about how teachers and coaches get away with abusing students for as long as they do. It takes a process of conditioning.
Everything I was taught by these experts mirrored what I experienced.
First, he picked me out because I was clearly weak. I had no self confidence. I had just had to drop out of college because I ran out of money to go. I was pretty inexperienced with guys. I was young. My relationship with my parents at the time was strained. I didn’t really have any friends because they were all still away at school. I was a mess. I was the perfect victim. I was completely textbook.
The first sign that this guy was bad news was that he had a girlfriend. It was the typical, “we’re having issues, we won’t be together much longer” sob story. I’ve written about this type of guy and what scum he is, but here I am, guilty of being that girl. The first time he and I kissed, they were still together. I’m an asshole for this. He justified all of it anywhich way that he could. He claimed that she was pregnant, but didn’t think the baby was his because she was cheating and the timeline didn’t line up. He was just staying with her until she had an abortion.
I’m so dumb. How could I fall for this? Because I was depressed and this gorgeous guy was paying attention to me and claiming he wanted to be with just me. And again, because I was really dumb. I wanted to believe him. I was desperate to believe every word he said.
The second clue that this was bad news was the first time we had sex…it wasn’t exactly consensual. We were making out. I had on shorts and a tank top. He didnt ask. He just moved my shorts and panties aside and entered me (without a condom…ugh). It honestly took me a minute or two to even realize what was happening. He was so nonchalant about the whole act. He didn’t even fully take his pants off. He seduced me and just took what he wanted and I was so disoriented by the whole encounter that I didn’t protest. Sorry for the TMI, but it’s honestly really important information to what I am talking about and you’ll see why in the blog following this one.
The third clue that this was going to go downhill was that he fed me a lot of bullshit. I was naive. And I think about this one thing a LOT now. He told me (mind you, I’m 19) that he could tell how innocent I was because when I was lying down, my breasts weren’t falling to the sides. He said this meant a lot of guys hadn’t laid on top of me. Later in the relationship, this line came back to haunt me. Four years, a bit of fluctuating weight gain and loss, and gravity later, he pointed out that my breasts didn’t sit up the way they used to. Which meant that a ton of guys had fucked me. Ummm…let’s poke some holes in this theory now that I’m not a total little twit.
We broke up twice in the 4 years that we were together. I slept with 2 other guys in that time that I dated in between. Regardless of how many guys I slept with, whether it was 1 or 3, the number of guys isn’t going to change my breasts. Gravity sure as fuck will. Additionally, my body changed in that time from my being a teenager to being an adult woman with hips, and curves, and who is subject to the same laws of nature that drag every woman’s body down.
But no. I was a cheating whore. I NEVER cheated on him. Not once.
Also, early in the relationship, I ran to Walmart to pick up a few things while I had been hanging out at this apartment. I forgot my cell phone on the charger. I had only had a phone for a few months, so I wasn’t used to grabbing it the way I am now, 10 years later. Apparently he tried to call me and a guy picked up (his roommate). I was doing laundry at his place that night and when I got back he told me how lucky I was that he didn’t kick me of the apartment and that he was ready to throw all of my clothes off the balcony into the parking lot.
All of these little incidents mounted over time. In between these little outbursts, he would baby me, and talk to me about what a princess I was and how perfect I was. But he was also guilting me into doing the things he wanted. Like making me have sex on my period, for example. So gross. So uncomfortable. But hey, I had to prove my love and prove my trust, so my comfort didn’t matter. My feelings didn’t matter.
The psychotic jealous rampages began around the time of my roommate/best friend’s 21st birthday. He kept claiming I was going to turn 21 in a few months and run around fucking every guy in every bar. By the time my birthday rolled around, I had no friends left to run around with. He isolated me from all of them. I had to be with him 24/7 to prove I wasn’t cheating. I didn’t see my family anymore. I didn’t go out on weekends. I didn’t do anything but cater to him. Everything I did, was to please him because the only way I could be happy was if I was making him happy. That’s how the relationship worked. My happiness depended on his pleasure. As long as he was smiling, I was happy. The only thing I wanted was to make sure that he was happy. That is what I was trained to do.
We didn’t do things I wanted to do. On my 21st birthday, we went out with his friends to Matrix. He was a hell of a dancer, but he wouldn’t dance with me. No one was buying me drinks. I stood in Matrix and watched everyone enjoying themselves and wished to hell that I was still talking to my girlfriends. I prayed I’d run into anyone I knew. I finally did. I saw a girl from my freshman dorm and was able to at least dance a bit with her.
A few months later, he lost his job and decided he was going to chill and run out the unemployment while I worked. He sat at home all day every day and played Playstation. I went back to school. He would get pissed if I had to work with classmates on a project because I wasn’t working on a project, I was obviously out fucking dudes from school. The one night before class, I put on jeans, a cute top, and dangly earrings. I looked nice, but I wasn’t dressed up. “Who are you dressing up for?” Ummm…I like looking nice sometimes?
No. Not allowed. If I looked nice, I was cheating. If anyone called me, I was cheating.
I had a lot of guy friends. I’ve always had a lot of guy friends. When they called me, I got yelled at. Eventually, no one called anymore. Why did I continue to stay?
I had nowhere to go. I had no relationship with my family. I had no friends. I had nothing. He made sure of that. He was the only thing I had and he beat down my self esteem so badly that I felt helpless and alone and like no one would ever want me again. He got it into my head that everyone didn’t talk to me because they were against me and they were all racist against him. (He was black and Puerto Rican.)
Yes. He pulled the race card on everyone I knew.
I ended up losing my job and he still didn’t have one. I panicked. I was 21 and we couldn’t pay bills. He went ballastic and left me at the apartment, crying and alone. I finally called my parents. They came and got me.
But like a drug, I couldn’t stay away. He wanted to work things out. He was sorry that he didn’t man up the way he should have. He was sorry for the things he said. He loved me. I brought these things on myself. If I had just listened to him, it would have all been okay.
I went back. But not until after I had a fling with a guy for a weekend. A guy that he unfortunately knew. Someone who also took advantage of my vulnerability- a heart broken girl with no self esteem who just came out of a verbally and mentally abusive relationship with no friends.
He knew what I did. I admitted it and he told me we’d never bring it up again. We were broken up and I didn’t think we’d ever get back together. But we did. And the guy called him and told him every detail of what we did together that weekend.
That’s the day things went from verbal to physical. That’s the day I’d never be the same.