Growing up, I was very close to my neighbors. For fifteen years of my life, I grew up next door to a family whom we loved as much as our own. My mother was best friends with the single mother of two beautiful girls, long before we all moved in next to each other. As we grew, we became a family made out of friends. I saw the two girls as my cousins and their mother as my aunt. We spent every day growing and bonding.
After so long, my aunt met a man and they fell in love. She was happy to have a man in her life to help her with the kids and to grow old with. He was amazing with the kids, even us kids next door. Time passed and his beer with dinner turned into a six pack. Being so close, I didn't have to be in their house to know that things had changed. While over with my cousin, I noticed that he would sometimes snap at them for the stupidest things. Things eventually moved from rude remarks and uncalled for punishments to more serious things. Countless times, my cousin would run next door to my mother for help because my aunt's husband was drinking again and things got out of control. The cops were called but charges weren't pressed. The beatings would stop and then, not long after, they would start again. The oldest daughter finally tried standing up for her mother and instead of my aunt's throat, he turned to her oldest daughter. That time, my aunt didn't just let it go. She stayed with him and tried helping him by making him go to rehab. He stopped drinking for a long time and soon they were having a baby of their own. They added an adorable baby boy to the family. After a couple years they moved away. He started being rude to the eldest daughter and mother again. Luckily, it did not take long for her to leave him for good.
Obviously, there is more to this that story. But, this is about my story, not my aunt's. Growing up and seeing what they went through, I always told myself that I would never be in an abusive relationship. I would never be with someone who disrespects me and hits me. Seeing all that did make me stronger in a lot of ways. I never was in a relationship where anyone beat me. But, that's not the only type of abuse there is, which is something I found out when I was sixteen.
Throughout school, I was always the kind of person who would stick to myself. I cared more about being me and getting my work done than I did about making friends. I preferred to have a couple close friends that I could count on than a bunch of friends who would keep me busy in class. I didn't start dating, until I was in 8th grade. It was a sweet innocent relationship and we never even kissed. We went on a couple dates, saw a movie, and then someone told me he was going to leave me because we weren't having sex. I didn't know whether or not this was true, I was too shy to ask. So, I left him first. That's right. I chose to not sleep with him because well, I just didn't want to! I innocently dated a couple others and finally dated someone who I kissed. Though, it was only once. We dated a week. Oh the joys of young stress-less romance! When I was 15, I started dating someone and we lasted longer than a week. We dated a few months, kissing and all. Eventually, he would get angry because I wouldn't sleep with him. We would make out all the time and that just wasn't good enough for him. I eventually contemplated doing it just to get it over with. Before I could even decide, things happened (not those things) and we broke up. Now, here's where my story really begins.
After him, my friend and I met these guys at the mall. For some reason, I liked one of them and we started talking. I was 16 and he was 20, or so he said. After a few weeks of talking, he informed me that he had lied about his age and he was actually 23. I already liked the guy, so I told him I didn't care. My parents on the other hand? I thought that what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. After a couple months of dating and making out, we were at his mothers house where he lived and he didn't want to stop at that. I really didn't want to, but I also was kind of curious. I was 16, why wouldn't I be? So after much hesitation and a lot of convincing on his part, I semi-willingly/semi-unwillingly just did it. There after, it wasn't as awkward for me. I willing did it throughout our ten month relationship.
After awhile, he got very possessive. He would moan and groan, if I made plans to hang out with my friends without him. I had to report everything to him. Where I was when I didn't go to school. What I did after school. He even made me quit the after-school art programs I was in because he wanted to spend time with me. The relationship that I though was going great felt more like a prison. I thought I loved him and I wanted to be with him, so I did it. My days ended up consisting of school and him. The only people, he approved of me hanging out with, was my sister and only two of my friends. I have problems with migraines and I get sick very easily. When it came to me not feeling well, he would be angry with me because I did not want to have sex. I got sick with mono and was sick for two weeks and the main thing he cared about was me getting better because he wanted to have sex. It got to the point where the sex was no longer enjoyable and more of a chore. He had me convinced that it was cheating to simply talk to or hang out with any of my male friends. My best friend who I grew up with was seen as a threat to him and he got mad when I would talk to him, even though I saw this friend more as family than a male friend.
Near the end of the relationship, it felt like the walls were closing in on me. I was never allowed to do anything without him. I rarely wanted to have sex with him. I stopped kissing him because I could have sworn that I smelled other girls on him, and I don't just mean perfume. I was feeling worthless and he had me believing that he was the only one I should care about and be around. I rarely hung out with my cousins or best friend any more. I never got to see my older sister because he hated her. I saw my little sister because she would smoke with him. I saw my parents because I lived with them, but not as much as I'd have liked. I saw two of my friends: one of whom he was sleeping with during our relationship and the other one knew and wasn't telling me until after I had left him. I was depressed often and always stuck in the house. School and work were vacations to me. It was the only place I could be without him. After ten months of being with him, I finally got enough courage and strength to leave him. It hurt and it took everything in me, even though I did it through text. My friend had finally come to me and told me that I needed to leave him. She wouldn't tell me why, because it would hurt her friendship with another girl, but she didn't want to see me hurting. Even though I was angry for her not telling me why, that one step was what pushed me to end it all.
After I broke up with him, I thought that I was free. And yes, for the most part I was free. I no longer was chained down (metaphorically). I could finally see my friends again. But it took a long time. After I left, he kept begging me to come back and denying everything. When he wasn't doing that, he would be harassing me and saying rude and hurtful things. It took me until just a year ago to be able to even hang out with another guy, or talk to another guy while dating someone, because of how much he had it drilled in my head that, just because I'm talking to a guy, that I'm cheating. Six years later, it is still effecting me.
After dating him, I always said that I would never put myself in that situation again. If I ever got there, I would end it and get out before I got in too deep. And I did... try. A year after leaving him, I met someone else. We started dating and everything was great. Six months after dating him, I found out that he was snorting pills. I could tell when he was because he was so different. When he was clean, he was nice to me. Treated me like the world. He was the man I fell in love with and tried to stay with, for two and a half years. But after another year, things just got worse. I tried helping him through his addiction the best I could, but you can only help someone so much and then they need to help themselves. He did help himself. Sadly, he helped himself to alcohol and his mothers pills instead of rehab. He would leave me home with his family who found every reason possible to talk me down and went drinking. He wouldn't come home until four to six in the morning. One night he even stayed out until nine and came home with hickies all over his neck, claiming that he did not recall how he got them.
While on the pills, he was rude and hurtful. He never hit me but he didn't have to. I had gained weight after getting on the "depo" shot for birth control and he would always comment about me gaining weight and how maybe I should eat right and not just sit around, even though I worked 30 hours a week on my feet and would go hiking at least every other week with my mother. The pills made him disgusting to me and I stopped having sex with him as often. Who really wants to have sex with someone who is sniffing and drugged up all the time? Not me, that's for sure. He would always be losing his job, lieing to me and taking it out on me when we could not make ends meet with our bills. It was always my fault that I gained weight, and that I didn't make enough food for dinner for myself, him and his mother and three sisters, whom I kindly let live with us after they lost their home. Despite how they all treated me and earning only thirty hours a week, I still only made $175 a week. I rarely brought my friends around because I was so embarrassed by him and didn't want them to see how he treated me.
After two and a half years of helping him and it only getting worse, I had enough. I realized where this would be heading if I did not leave and knew I should not be depressed and miserable inside. The man who I loved was long gone and was replaced by this heartless pill snorting man. I remembered how I felt in the last relationship and what I had told myself. Knowing I'd ended things before, I knew I could again. I just had to wait for the right moment.
This time it was different. Different in the sense that I was living with him. Knowing his history of stealing and selling things, I did not want to leave him and leave all my things there. After a few months of waiting, we both lost our jobs. Never in my life have I been so happy about being fired. Due to losing my job, I had to move back with my mother. By this time, his family had moved out and he went with them. I took all the important items and sellables, that were mine, to my mothers with me. As for everything else, I claimed his mothers storage unit was too full and stored all my things in my own. Then I finally left him. Things were rough at first with him and his family harassing me. They were trying to say that I was only with him for his money and took everything. Keep in mind, I made more in one job, during the most recent year, than he did in the eight that he had managed to work at throughout the year. Everything I took, my family gave me, bought me, or I bought myself. They tried telling me that I was worthless and my mother was a piece of shit and I was just like her. They tried saying that my sister was nothing but a whore and we all are trash. They complained about how I took the car after everything that he had put in to it, even though my grandparents had bought the car for me.
But even after all that struggle, it was worth it. Even after leaving a man whom I was engaged to, I was happier. I was no longer feeling worthless and no longer was feeling the need to seek medial help for my emotions.
In the end, it made me even stronger and very grateful. Not everyone can be as lucky as I was, when it comes to mental abuse. Compared to a lot of people, what I went through was a walk in the park. Yes, it was harder for me, at the time, than what words can express. But I got out. Alive. Many people feel so hopeless, that suicide is the only possible outcome. They just shut down and stop trying.
Even though this does not seem like much, it is still mental abuse. Mental abuse is serious and comes in different forms. Many people think that physical abuse is the only way you can be hurt. They are wrong. Mental abuse is real and not something that is shown by some bruises. It is something that hurts deep down inside. It is something people think medication can just fix. These feelings have long term effects on people and lead to a lot of mental conditions - depression and suicide are just some. Just know that you're not alone. You are the only one in control of your life. The only one who can control what you do and do not do. You control how you should feel and look. People who mentally abusive are nothing more than bullies. It's hard, I know. It took me until after the breakup to let anyone other than my mother in on what had happened in my second relationship. Most of my family were shocked and thought that we were doing so well. They didn't know about his problems, because I made excuses and was ashamed.
Don't be afraid to reach out to someone and find help. No one is perfect, but they don't deserve to feel like they are worthless.
It's been almost three years since I left him. Things have finally been back on track since those two relationships. I can finally freely talk to my male friends without feeling guilty, even though I've never cheated in my life. I still do have trust issues when it comes to dating, but nothing time can't help. I've learned, grew and got stronger from my past and it has made me who I am. Yes, I'd prefer it didn't happen because of how I felt then. But I still would not change my past. Without it, I wouldn't be the strong person who I am today.