Her journey through an abusive relationship in high school
For today’s blog, I’ve had the pleasure to share a girl’s journey through her abusive relationship as a teen. This courageous person who will remain anonymous for confidential purposes has been open and will to share her story to hopefully impact a person who’s shared a similar case.
For the sake of confidentiality, all names and places have been changed.
What attracted you to the abusive partner?
I was between 17- 18 years old.
His name was Jacob. The first thing that attracted me to him was that he was hot. That was the first thing I noticed about him. He did smile a lot.
This guy was very physically attractive and charismatic. He was wasn’t much older but I was a senior and he was a Freshman in college. He felt like he was a “man”. He had a very romantic side to him and would show up randomly to say, “Hi” and just bring me flowers.
I think it is relevant to say my parents got divorced when I was 15, and that set the stage for me to rebel. I was so fed up with that situation because they had raised me to be this very discipline kid, I was in gymnastics, never got a B in my life, never quit anything and I even cleaned my room every day before going to bed.
When they got divorced it felt to me that they were quitting the thing they said they were committed to – [staying together and parent].
I felt unappreciated at that time.
I did a complete 180 from getting straight A’s to skipping class, going to parties, experimenting with alcohol and drugs and trying to be part of the “popular crowd”, and dating rebellious guys.
When did you realize the relationship was abusive?
About 3 months into it, things turned.
To give you a short background of him, he came from a family where his actual birth father had a mental health issue. His mother then remarried twice and Tom was the most current husband in the house.
So, first Tom initially made a move on me, very aggressively and then he came into the bedroom one night and asked to watch Jacob and I fool around. Not knowing what to do, we continued.
Everything was OK but then after that was the turning point. We told his mom about it but she didn’t do anything.
After that incident, it seemed as Jacob stopped trusting me. I should’ve left the relationship then but I was so convinced I can somehow save the relationship from that experience.
I would give him excuses which made it harder to see that it was actually abusive.
I think the moment I realized the relationship was abusive was when we had been having an argument one night around 7:30pm and I went to the bathroom to get away from him and when I went to slam the door he was standing there and the door hit his toe and he grabbed me by the throat.
And that’s when I knew the relationship had an abusive element – I was aware that that particular situation was wrong. And even so, I stayed with him about 4 months after that. I don’t remember him apologizing for it but he explained that he hurt his toe really bad and therefore it was my fault that he reacted that way and that’s how I viewed it too.
That was the defining moment I knew it was abusive but I obviously didn’t take it seriously at the time despite that knowing that it was wrong.
What signs did you notice in your partner that were red flags?
Before that, I did see some red flags (now as an adult that I’m aware of), he had this tendency to be easily jealous of other guys. And it seemed to bother him that I didn’t get jealous. Looking back that should’ve been a red flag.
Maybe a little bit of controlling situation.
Looking back at it he wanted me around all the time so he can keep tabs on me all the time.
Did he ever make you distance yourself from your friends?
He talked poorly of my friends especially my best friend saying they were “sluts.” It started small but then it got worst. With my guy friends, I couldn’t have any guy friends and if I hung out with them then he thought I was clearly cheating.
His own guy friends would hit on me and that was never their fault. If they hit on me, Jacob would say it was something I had done so the blame was always on me. He wouldn’t argue with his friend but ‘I shouldn’t have’… worn that dress, had that drink, etc.
I think its an interesting detail is that my dad, I would never say he was abusive but he would get stressed out easily and when we were young kids he wouldn’t hit us but he would get so angry at us sometimes that we were complete terrified. But I think that also almost played a role in me being attractive to that anger because it was familiar. I had felt deserted by my dad when my parents got divorced.
Another red flag was all the partying! You can make so many more mistakes than when you are sober. No healthy relationship is built out of [partying] but that continued throughout our entire relationship. By the end of the relationship he was pretty much addicted to cocaine. That really seemed to escalate things and made it that much easier for him to be raging mad.
Were you able to get out of the abusive relationship? How so?
I wish I had better information to share. But I was so “addicted” to being in this relationship that I was very unwilling to leave him. My best friend (who he spoke poorly about all the time) tried to get me to leave him repeatedly and she was terrified all the time about it.
One night him and I had a fight and he took my head and hit my head against the concrete on the ground and she called my mom and had my mom go out there (about 45 minutes away). I had left walking around by myself to get away from him.
There was a lot of emotional abuse so my self-worth was none existent so you begin to have this mentality that if he doesn’t have me then nobody else would have me or be with me. Which is odd because one side he is saying that everybody would want to date you but the other is saying no-one would ever date you.
Was anybody else in the family impacted by your relationship? How so?
I think my youngest sister. She wound up being in an abusive relationship around the same age 17-18 years old. She and I have always been very similar in the ways that we think, our personalities, and being very passionate. I think there is a fine line between being passionate about something or with someone and that passion turns into this anger type situation. I’ve worried that her seeing me experience that relationship had normalized it for her, or romanticize it, or a valuable life experience.
She wound up in the hospital at one point.
Other than them, I don’t think my dad knows the extent of what really happened. My middle sister, she was friends with my same group of friends because we were closer in age. She doesn’t share as much and I might not accurately perceive this well but I don’t think it impacted her in a huge way at least not that I’m aware of.
What advice would you give others who are in an abusive relationship?
If you’re worried that it may be abusive then it probably is because you shouldn’t have to question it in my opinion. Especially when you’re young or your parents are divorced and you don’t have a good example of a healthy relationship in your life – air on the side of caution. Even if you’re questioning mental and emotional abuse because it can be just as bad as physical abuse.
Don’t give up your friends!
If that person is trying to alienate you from your friends do not let that happen. Even if you continue dating them, do not lose touch with your friends throughout the process.
From my personal experience, it was that much harder to leave because I had no friends. I think I would have at least had the opportunity to cope better and more likely would’ve left him but I allowed him to completely alienate me from my friends.
If you can involve authority or parents, I highly recommend it! Especially authorities because if that person goes on to do that thing to other people? It’s not even just about you anymore, it’s about whoever that person comes in contact with and that persons own safety too. It’s safer for everyone.
Pushing IS abuse. It’s kind of in early stages, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Getting hit or “smacked” with an open hand would also be abuse as well. Don’t ignore that kind of behavior, don’t treat it as “passionate” behavior or a “lover’s quarrel,” it’s just not appropriate under any circumstances.
As a red flag, look at the person’s behavior towards other people or animals. If the person is aggressive or rude to other people (friends, family, a waiter at the restaurant, etc) that’s not a good sign. Also, the person I was dating was actually really good with animals, but if there was any aggression shown towards animals I would consider that the same type of red flag.
Also as a red flag, look out for manipulative behavior. For me, the best example of this was how I would be “punished” by being completely ignored for 12+ hours (up to 3 days or so) by a person who otherwise would text me constantly and want me around constantly. He’d fall silent for long periods of time, which was very abnormal for him, and I know now that this was very manipulative behavior in response to my doing something he didn’t like. I’d basically be begging for forgiveness any time he’d do this.
The first time anyone does this kind of thing in front of you, it seems more strange than it will seem if they continue to act that way for a year. By then, you’ve seen that behavior 20+ times, and it’s, therefore, less shocking and you’re less likely to “wake up” and leave.
Identifying red flags and staying close with friends/family regardless of what the other person may say – those are perhaps the most important parts of preventing situations like this.