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A Survivor’s Story

Highschool was an interesting time for me. I was 14 when I was a freshman, a naive little girl who knew nothing of the world. I remember sitting in health class listening to a guest speaker talk to us about abusive relationships, “that couldn’t happen to me”, I thought to myself.

A month into my freshman year I met a sophomore boy (we’ll call him John). He was tall, fit and had a nice smile. A Christian, an athlete, and an A student. John was well liked and widely praised by the staff at my school. I was instantly into him and he seemed all about me.

We had been talking for a month and I wanted him to as me out, or to homecoming. I figured out that I wasn’t the only girl he was talking to and hanging out with. He had 2 other freshmen girls he was also promising commitment to. Furious, I ended things with him. He begged to have me back and gave me proof he wasn’t talking to the other girls. However, he didn’t want to be official until the school year ended.

Innocently, I accepted this and we were basically a couple without being a couple. He came over, we made out. Typical highschool things. I had never done anything with a guy (besides kiss) and John increasingly started to get aggravated when I would want to cool off. One day, he got angry with me because I wouldn’t do stuff with him so he puffed his chest, stood over me as a way to intimidate me and stormed out of my house. He called the next morning to say that I was going to have to give him something and it was my fault he left.

We were off and on, very casually, throughout the rest of the school year. He finally made me his girlfriend when summer came around. He only made it official because other guys showed interest in me and I was “his future wife”. Which he tried tirelessly to use that to get me to sleep with him (which I never did). One night, he got so fed up that he grabbed my arm and squeezed it as hard as he could until i was on the ground begging him to stop. It left bruises. That “game” would happen almost every time we saw each other.

He went on a cruise ship that summer and ended up cheating on me. When I found out and broke up with him, he called me and told me it was for the best because he was going to go to prom with the girl he met on the ship. He called me every month on the day that was supposed to be an anniversary and told me this day meant nothing to him anymore thanks to me. We got back together during my sophomore year.

He knew all my classes, he tried to fight my male friends. He kept tabs on me. But he still talked to other girls romantically . We broke up again but kept going with this on and off talking thing in which he would talk about the girl he cheated on me with and how he hangs out with her just to manipulate me. I tried to end things but he threatened suicide and I had to go to the guidance office. He yelled at me because I was being dramatic by doing that. Later, I went over to his house where he forced me on my knees in his driveway and shoved my head into his crotch and said “it would be nice if you actually did something” then left me outside. The next day he showed me cuts on his wrists and told me it was because of me.

That type of torment went on from ages 14-17. When I was a junior, I started dating a new guy, my best guy friend, who was loving and understanding and the only person who knew the situation at the time. I couldn’t tell the teachers, the staff loved him. I suffered from extreme anxiety and struggled in school. John was a senior by this time and didn’t like that I was dating someone new. He sent me 178+ text messages the day he found out. Told me he was getting his wisdom teeth out and that i was heartless for not caring about a surgery he was having. I never answered but because of this he threatened to come to my house until I did answer.

He tormented my boyfriend at the time by finding me in my study halls and going to classes I was in. He knew my boyfriend would be working on projects in the hallway outside my class one day so he came into my class just to taunt him, because we were helpless. He found me at prom and shoulder checked me so hard I fell over. It never ended.

My senior year felt like I could finally be free. I had a boyfriend, John was gone. The world was mine. I started to open up to friends, but they didn’t believe me. Tried to see the psychologist several times but to no avail. But I made it through, nevertheless.

Every summer he would hit up my favorite places just to run into me. I’ve been slammed against walls, intimidated by him, and he’s left bruises. All of this since I was 14 years old. I didn’t understand that it was as bad as it was until I did start dating my best friend. I struggled, hard, to deal with the fact that I was a survivor of teen dating violence.

At 18 I started college. I was still dating the same guy but, like always, John found a way to find me. He showed up outside of my freshman dorm building. I didn’t let him in. I locked myself in my room for 12 hours.

At 20 I moved into my first apartment. John also found where I lived and stopped by one day. He came in, sat on my bed, and told me how he was suspended from his team because a girl on the team was “upset they made out when they were drunk” and accused him of harassment/assault. My blood ran cold. I stood up but he grabbed my arm and made me sit on the bed with him. He forced a kiss on me and I shoved him off of me. He got angry and said that this was long overdue and that I know I want to. He stood over e with his chest puffed out, anger in his eyes. I told him no and caused a scene, my roommates were home, so he had no choice but to leave.

I never replied to texts or calls after that night again. It could’ve been worse and I know that. I say I’m lucky, but also not. Not every 14 year old girl has to go through that sort of abusive. He finally stopped contacting me after he became engaged this year. I’m 22 now. 8 years of calls, texts, harassment, and just fear.

I want to advocate for education on dating violence in teen relationships. I was so afraid to speak up because of how well renowned he was in my school, I felt like people wouldn’t believe me. And those who I told didn’t. Teacher’s thought I was lazy for my lack of drive in school when I was struggling with something they didn’t know about. School should feel safe, and my school felt like a prison.

Britney’s Story

When I was 17, I started dating “Steven.” We dated for three years. During that time Steven was mentally, physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. He continues to be now that we are apart.

When I publicly came out with my story he told everyone who knew me that I was “toxic” and “crazy. ” Steven has denied the truth about the abuse. He got an order of protection against me, yet continues to go out of his way daily to get me in trouble and label me as being toxic.

Being 21 and going through this while battling school, work and everyday life is not the easiest. Keeping the abuse a secret from my friends, family and loved ones for three years was hard. But having to lie about where I got the bruises from was especially difficult.

I don’t have pictures of the times he strangled me, beat me with a metal tool, or tried to kill me. Nor do I have proof he pushed me into a closet or damaged my property. The time for being silent is over. I want to speak my truth for all those who are struggling and battling their abusers behind closed doors.

I am now majoring in social work and my goal is to go out into the world and help ALL who are suffering from abuse. I want to help them seek safety and not be afraid to share their stories.

For anyone going through healing or seeking safety, I offer you all my support. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

My Survivor Story

May 10th 2020

I never knew that being in an abusive relationship did not have to consist of physical abuse. Therefore, I stayed in a toxic relationship for about 7 years. My dignity, self worth as a woman, and happiness were at the hands of this man who claimed to love me and called me his queen. He belittled, humiliated, and made me feel worthless. I felt that I didn’t deserved to be loved. He said I was too emotional and mimicked me when I cried. He even mentioned once that he would never hit a woman but would get his sister to “kick your ass”. Multiple times he stated that his dad taught him to never hit a woman…he forgot about respect and how to appreciate a woman. I would of done anything for him but two years ago I opened my eyes and made a plan to leave him…2 months later I executed that plan and finally left. Yes, I went back but never to live with him again because finally I saw my self worth and eventually cut all ties. He left scars too deep to heal as I grieved the end of the relationship and I questioned myself, I sometimes felt that I was the one at fault. Now every time I remember the relationship, I only recall the unpleasant times. It’s rare when I remember the few good times. Those extremely bad memories appear out of nowhere but have kept me strong and have helped me to heal. I never want to place myself in that position ever again. I felt that I needed to break the silence because sometimes words hurt so much, but there is hope. Definitely the support from my mom and friends helped me get through this. Again, I always thought that an abusive relationship involved physical abuse. Even when I talked to a friend who provided domestic violence workshops and told me I was in an abusive relationship, I didn’t believe her. I didn’t know any better and recently I started looking into it and realize that she was right. It took me two years to accept it, but I’m in a better place.

Jelaina’s Story

May 17th 2020

I packed up and headed off to college in the fall of 2009. There I met my abuser through mutual friends and we began dating the following spring. We were the typical college kids and for a while things were fun. Soon it became apparent that something wasn’t quite right. While we had been partying hard, my boyfriend’s alcohol consumption was getting crazy. Combined with the emotional stress of his parents’ nasty separation and it was a recipe for disaster.

It started when his drinking led to my being awoken in the middle of the night in cooling urine – he was wetting the bed. When I asked him to get up so I could change the sheets, he became belligerent, cursing at me, yelling, and throwing things. When he was in this state, nothing I did helped. He often shoved me or cursed at me.

The worst came one evening when he had a friend visiting for the weekend. As usual, my boyfriend got drunk and passed out. Later when I went to get in bed, he called me a fat*ss. Taken aback, I responded to him, with, “did you seriously just say that to me?” That was when he lunged off the bed and grabbed me. As I tried to get away, we struggled out of his room. He threw me onto the living room couch where he put his hands on my throat, screaming at me with his face mere inches from mine. That night, his friend took me home and slept on the floor of my room to make sure my boyfriend wouldn’t try to bust in and continue the assault.

In addition to his drunken rages, he tried to have non-consensual sex with me. Feigning sleep so as to not have to deal with him drunk again, I lay there in horror as he tugged my shorts down and attempted to coax me onto my side so he had better access.. I pretended to roll back over, but he was undeterred. During this,, he kept murmuring, “it’s okay. You want me to do this.” When he attempted to get me onto my side again, I vaulted from the bed, and yelled, if you ever do that again, I’ll rip your balls off. I’m not proud of that moment, but I was hurt, angry and confused. How could someone I cared about try and take advantage of me like that?

Through it all I was determined to stay, because I wanted to show him that I wouldn’t leave like his mom did. When he found someone else, we broke things off and I turned to my friends for support. Only after speaking with them and telling them everything, did I begin to realize that throughout our relationship, I had been verbally, physically, and mentally/emotionally abused. What he had done that one night was considered sexual assault. I stayed because I was too stubborn to give up on him. I felt that he was hurting. That he needed me. I was so blind.

I share my story now because I want to urge women, (ALLwomen), to listen to the signs. Don’t blind yourself to the red flags.

And know your worth. I could have saved myself so much pain and heartache, had I realized sooner that enough was enough.

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