It took me a long time to admit it to myself, let alone anyone else. I was in an abusive relationship. It’s true what they say, the average person takes 8 times before they leave their abuser, and it must have taken me at least that many times combining the breakups.
People have so many misconceptions about dating violence (DV). Many people think if you are rich, male, LGBTQ or confident it doesn’t affect you, and that’s just not true. Lots also think abuse only means getting hit. Abuse can come in various forms:
Oh yea, and lots of adults don’t think it happens to teens. They couldn’t be more wrong though, studies show as high as one in three teens will experience DV, higher than any other age group! In my case the abuse I experienced was emotional.
For me, maybe because the abuse was emotional, it made it way harder for me to figure out. I had so many conflicting feelings about this guy. He wasn’t always mean and after a particularly bad night of demeaning me, talking down to me, and generally making me feel terrible about myself he would somehow transform into this great guy who would take me out, hold my hand and sometimes even buy me nice gifts.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I now know we were in a well known and repetitive cycle, known as the “Cycle of Abuse. “ This cycle is one that will continue over and over again, with each phase varying in length.
Even on an average day, I didn’t like the way he talked to me, but often I would rationalize it in my head. I would convince myself that he was stressed about an upcoming test. Or that anyone might be angry after their team loses; only it wasn’t just around those times.
When I would get mad at him he would call me crazy and I started to think I was crazy for getting upset. I mean, it’s not like the thought of him being abusive never crossed my mind. Yet, when I would try to stand up for myself, he somehow made me feel like a small and scared child- and that just wasn’t me.
It took me nearly two years, to finally gather the strength to leave him for good. It felt almost impossible at the time, but I had two friends who helped me stay strong. I only wish I had told those friends sooner, they didn’t judge me like I was worried they would. It wasn’t easy, I often felt sad and even missed him, but looking back it’s almost harder to understand how I stayed so long.
If you are unsure if you are in an abusive relationship and need someone to talk to about it there are many great options:
- LoveIsRespect.org has a toll free 1-866-331-9474/1-866-331-hotline or you text by sending “loveis” to 77054 (standard text messaging fees may apply) or even live chat on their site.
- If you prefer in person, look up your nearest clinic or one of these other great resources to help you find answers.
- If you think you are ready to get out of the situation you are in but are unsure about how exactly to go through with the break up, I found this guide super helpful.
Most of all remember if you or a friend is going through this there is help.