Some of you may know that I used to be in an abusive relationship. When I was 17, I met a 30-year old and began a two-year relationship with him that was abusive. There's something that Lisa Nichols says (She is this incredibly strong, powerful woman who also used to be in an abusive relationship) that really resonates with me; is that you don't just decide you want to be in an abusive relationship. You're not just like, what I want from life? I know! I want to be with a real dickhead! It doesn't happen like that.
It's small decisions that happen time and again. Obviously, I wanted to be with some prince charming type, an incredible person and to begin with, that kind of was what it was like. The red flags that should have said to me run for the hills, girl, I ignored because I had low self-esteem. Now, this is my experience, it's not necessarily everyone's experience but because of my low self-esteem, when there was a red flag, I was just like, don't worry about it.
The fact that he was 30 and I was 17. He would say little things that now I would have been like, "Get the fuck out of here", but at the time I was just like "Oh, yeah, he's probably right". Things like he wouldn't date anyone who wasn't a virgin or had only had sex with like one or two people, like creepy as fuck, right? At the time I was just like well, I am a virgin so I'm just attractive to him because of that.
I was in a difficult situation at the time. I was 17 and I was homeless and this guy who was older came along and I was thinking "Oh my God, all my dreams have come true", so I was in a vulnerable situation. It was just little decisions like not confronting him or leaving him or saying anything if he said something weird like that or abusive.
From the time we met each other, I would spend every single day with him. I don't think we spent a day apart for at least the first couple of months, and within a couple of months, I had moved in with him and his elderly mother. Terrible situation. He'd start saying things like, "You need to wash more. You need to wash your clothes more. You kind of stink." I'd be like, oh, well this is coming from a place of love because obviously, if I do stink then you'd want your partner to tell you, right?
"Oh, you should maybe buy some more clothes" or "Do you really want to go to that party?". Like little things and now if anyone said any of this stuff to me, like I said, I'd be like get the fuck out of here loser, but at 17 with low self-esteem, I couldn't see that. All these little things added up to be one day looking around and being totally emotionally physically abused by this guy.
Towards the end, I was actually in quite a lot of physical danger. That's what happens a lot of times with abusive relationships, especially when I was starting to leave the abusive relationship. Because I had such low self-esteem, I thought no one else is going to want me and on top of that, he would tell me, "Would anyone else want you? I mean, you're so disgusting. Your body is just hideous."
He would look at my body and say things like, "What is wrong with you? Why is your body like this? What's wrong with your breasts? What's wrong with your stomach? What's wrong with your legs?" I'd have to explain them to him. Isn't that fucked? Obviously, any self-esteem I did have when I entered the relationship was completely wiped out but I had this tiny little flame inside of me that said you need to get out of there, girl. So I did and I left him and it was a big difficult scary thing but I did and it took a couple of years.
Before I was in an abusive relationship, I would have said, "Why don't people just leave? I mean, God, if someone's being mean, just leave them." But it's not as easy as that because you don't just decide one day to make a decision to be with an abusive person. "I think that I'm worthless and I think that this person is kind of the right level for me." It doesn't happen like that. It'd be little things and then there'll be good things in the meantime, and then another little thing, and then more good things, and another little thing.
You're in above your head before you know it and it's so hard to leave. It's really dangerous to leave. That's when most women are most vulnerable and will get murdered, will get attacked, when they leave. Saying to someone, "Just leave," you're asking them to risk their life, literally. If you know anyone who's in an abusive relationship, just be there for them. Just try and give them a safe haven if you can. Tell them that they can come round at any time. Just listen to them if they do talk about their partner with you and just say, "You know, that's not right." Just in case they don't know.
A lot of times I didn't know that you shouldn't be afraid to eat food around your partner because of the criticism that you'd get. I didn't know that you should be terrified all the time and if someone was just like, "That's not right, you know? I'm not telling you what to do, but you know you can always come around here if you need to."
If they do want to leave then be there for them. It could just be, "Hey, do you want to hang out? Hey, come around mine. Hey, do you want to go to the movies?" Whatever. Or just listening to them and not being judgmental, so not being like, "Oh, thank God you're away from that fucking loser. He was such a dick." Because it's complicated, right?
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