I still remember as clear as day the first time I met him. He was wearing a green shirt that had a tree on it and I showed off the brand new jewelry I had just gotten from my grandmother earlier that week. I didn’t even think twice about it – completely unaware that meeting changed my life forever.
He added me on Facebook a couple of evenings later and we began to talk. We talked about everything – from our favorite movies to our middle school experiences. But I never thought twice about it. He seemed like a great guy – upstanding, talented, and strong in his faith.
One of my dear friends told me at a Christmas party that he had a crush on me. I still remember how taken aback I was when I heard that – someone actually liked me? Once I heard that, I started to like this boy back. Simply because he liked me… I fell head-over-heels for this boy – but it was an unhealthy “love”.
Quickly, we forged a friendship – a deep one where we knew everything about each other. Well, almost everything. A year later, while studying for a history class just the two of us, we shared our first kiss together. My very first kiss.
I didn’t know really what a relationship entailed at the time. He climbed on top of me, grabbing parts that a swimsuit covered and then remarked, “This is backwards. You’re supposed to be on top.” Regrettably, I obliged. I didn’t know. I thought that was normal. I thought that was love and I was so desperate for him to like me, I did whatever he asked me to.
After awhile, I lost myself. He would tell me things like “Your chest is too small.” “I don’t love you.” “I knew you couldn’t do it.” Once he hurt me with words, he’d grab me and kiss me. Soon, I became dependent on him – whenever I got upset, I’d turn to him because he had conditioned me. He’d tear me down and build me back up the way he wanted me. I told him everything that was wrong, and he fixed it in his own way.
Then, one day, he admitted he had an addiction to pornography to me. He told me I was the only one he has ever told. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to betray his trust and tell someone. Then, he began to hang it over my head, threatening me that he’d turn to pornography if I didn’t do something.
I felt so lost. All I wanted was his love. In my hazed mind, I thought that if I became the “vixen” he seemed to want, he’d love me. If I did that, I’d fix his pornography problem. But no. It never happened. After awhile, I became severely depressed and turned to cutting to find some sort of release. So much stress was put on my back.
After two years in this hell, he decided to get help for his pornography addiction and left me behind. I felt hurt, unloved, and lost. I didn’t know where to turn. I had lost what I thought was my only confidant.
Months later, after reading a story about someone who was emotionally abused, I realized that I had been a victim of abuse...Me… I never knew because it hadn’t left physical marks on my body. I hadn’t realized because no one ever talks about emotional abuse – but it’s real. Emotional abuse is so very real.
It messed with my head. Destroyed who I was and my very person. There was a long road ahead of my to overcome the effects. I started to hate this boy – absolutely loathed him for what he did to me. My heart turned black. Yet, at the same time, there was still nothing that I wanted more than for him to love me.
The path to forgiveness was long. But the harder path was healing. I didn’t know what a healthy relationship was nor how to handle it. I started dating again, but the first time someone tried to kiss me, I broke into tears and started shaking because I was terrified. Over time though, my heart and my head managed to stitch themselves back together when I turned back to my Heavenly Father and asked for His help.
Oddly enough, I’m thankful for this trial I was given in my life. It taught me how strong I really am. It gave me a chance to share my story and show others that emotional abuse is a real and tangible thing. I think I learned a lot about the value of a person and how much the little things affect us. In the end, I became a better person towards everyone – I realized we never know what someone is going through. More than anything though, I believe it taught me just how strong I can be. It taught me how to stand up for myself and how to turn to God and ask for His help. I learned how to be brave.
If you would like to learn more about emotional abuse or seek help check out this website.