Survivor Story: I Lived with Abuse for Eight Years and Thought of It As Normal
Written by: BTSADV Survivor
This past August marked my second anniversary away from my abuser. The photo on the left shows me sitting on a pile of clothes in a trashed apartment on the very last day I had ever spoken to my abuser. On the right, I stand two years later. I cannot believe I would be saying this as I never thought I would have ever gotten here. Today is such an important day for me because it is a day I never thought I would see. I thought I was stuck with this person forever, yet somehow did not want to leave.
I know some are still in this position and cannot fathom being apart from their abuser or somehow keep finding themselves back where they were, but they will get there. Never in a million years did I think it would be me. I never thought I could get out of that relationship and be a thriving and happy individual.
I will never forget how I felt when I knew that it had to end. There had been years of physical and emotional abuse, and I honestly had come to feel like it was normal. I thought that this was my life and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
That day, my abuser had just trashed the apartment that he and I were living in. He was mad at me because we were at an event and I had an alcoholic beverage given to me. He was screaming at me to get out of his place. I was crying, begging him not to leave me. I promised I would never hang out with anyone, that I would stay inside forever; all I wanted was for him to just love me.
I disregarded the years of him assaulting me and the countless charges he had over the abuse. I disregarded the beauty that life had to offer if I were to leave. I remember him saying that he did not love me or want to be with me anymore. I knew very well that in a few months when I would start to make progress and recover, he would try to lure me back in. This happened, but this time I stayed strong.
Looking back at it now, I can’t imagine having that much weakness for another person. I cannot imagine telling somebody that I would continue to give up more freedom, friends, and family for the most unhealthy relationship I had ever been in – physically, mentally and financially.
I already was unable to visit friends, have sleepovers, or go on trips. I wasn’t allowed to stay over at my own parents’ house. That day I told him that it was over. I couldn’t do it anymore. If he wanted to break up, I would leave, but I wouldn’t speak to him again for the rest of his life, and I stuck by that. I left the next day and never spoke to my abuser again, ever. He had tried to reach out once I had moved on, and I continued to stay strong.
I had been with my abuser for almost eight years, from the time I was 15 until I was almost 22 years old. I know when we leave, victims fear the unknown. For the longest time, I thought that one day I could have a conversation with him and get closure, but as time passed, I became so strong that I didn’t need anything from him.
This is not to say that it was an easy journey. I have had a lot of counseling and a lot of tears and issues that I had to work on, but I am where I need to be. I do not need to ever speak to my abuser. I do not need him to give me closure – I gave myself closure.
I am now an individual who speaks and acts freely, and I am finally the real me. I have changed so much in such a positive way, and I am always out on the next adventure. I take trips, I volunteer, I try new sports and activities, and I am always open minded to trying something new. I am doing things I was never allowed to do, and I am doing everything I want to do. I am the happiest that I have ever been in my life. I have an amazing boss, a great job, loving and caring friends and family. I really could not ask for anything more.
For those who may still be in a situation like this, my advice would be that you can do this and to take that chance and leave. Make your own life and have your own celebratory day of the day you decided to stop being abused!
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
What’s YOUR Raw Truth?
Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, complete the form below. You can choose to remain anonymous.