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Leaving My Abuser and Living with PTSD

A survivor leaves her abuser and is left the PTSD. Her story epitomizes the dangers that survivors face during and after escape.

This BTSADV Survivor Sister has been through some incredibly difficult abuse and hardship. She speaks about how she left her abuser and was left the PTSD. Her story is painful to read and epitomizes the dangers that survivors face during and after the escape.

An Alcoholic and a User

My abuser was an alcoholic, and an occasional heroin user. He wasn’t supposed to meet me. However, his cousin met my girlfriend, and then we all started hanging out. At that time, I had only experienced one prior relationship, which was also negative. To understand that, I think I have to explain my naivety and self-identity. I lost my father when I was fifteen and had no guidance or instruction in my life. Therefore I made all my decisions. I was also 5’2″ and 265lbs. I had three chins and no self-esteem. So as you can imagine, I fell for anyone that showed me the least bit of attention and thought I was attractive.

The Culmination of Childhood Trauma

I endured several horrific waves of abuse as a child and suffered through heartache, a lack of respect, and so much more. It all culminated in seven years of abuse at the hands of “Derek.” Derek swept me off my feet. His smile was contagious, and of course, I fell in love – or maybe it was lust at the time. About two weeks into our dating period, I got the first sign that something was amiss – all because I put my shoes in the wrong room. I dismissed it at the time, thinking it was unimportant.  

After that I dealt with so much more; it became difficult to make eye contact with others, talk to my own family, and feel anything but fear. There’s a lot of emotion behind my abuse still, so it’s easier for me to just write this as factually, and unemotionally as possible. 

Derek abandoned me with his family, who I’d only known for a day. After about two months, he surprised me by returning on his birthday and then proceeded to punch me repeatedly in the head and upper body. It felt like the attack was never-ending, but it probably finished as rapidly as it had begun. He followed this with six more years of control and abuse. He threatened me with a gun, he threw me down a flight of stairs while his family watched, he punched me in the eye while we were walking past a police station because I spilled water on his shirt, and beat me up countless times.

The First Time The World Went Black

One night, we were walking to the subway and Derek thought I let someone steal $5 from me. He pushed me up against a chain-link fence, on a secluded side street. I remember that we argued, and then I don’t remember anything else, I just saw black, and heard nothing. When I regained consciousness, I was momentarily disoriented, but then I saw him looming over me. I think he thought he killed me, and honestly, I feel like a part of me died that night. He dragged me to my feet and guided me to the subway as if nothing had happened. 

My Haunting

The worst night of my life haunts me to this day. Derek and I were watching a movie, sitting on the edge of the bed. I saw something that made me turn my head, and he immediately started accusing me of trying to meet someone else and cheating on him. I kept telling him that was not true, and he just ignored me. He picked me up and threw me from the dresser to the wall, and back again about 8 times. I kept screaming at him to stop, but he wouldn’t.

At some point, he went into the kitchen, and I tried to figure out how to get out of the small bedroom I was in and escape the apartment. I walked out of the bedroom and tried to go to the bathroom when I suddenly heard the sound of a knife being stabbed into my head. I was so confused that I literally asked him if he had just stabbed me. Instead of responding, he stabbed me twice more in the head, twice in the arms, and once in the back. I was frantic, probably in shock, and covered in blood. I began fighting back, focused on getting the knife away from him. However, he pushed me into the kitchen and cornered me by the fridge.

I remember he told me that he could kill me then, and no one would ever know.  I truly thought I was going to die. Somehow, even though my whole body was on fire, I managed to get the knife away, run to the bedroom, and call 911. It was the first time I tried to call the police. He came running towards me when he saw what I was doing, and repeatedly punched me in my knife wounds. It was all I could do to turtle up and endure it. I don’t know how long it lasted, but eventually, he made me go to bed. 

He Didn’t Remember

I woke up in the morning and was told I couldn’t go to work. I asked him to help me to the shower, and when the water ran into the drain, it was a reddish brown colour from all the dried blood. There was so much of it, he actually asked me if I had dyed my hair. I realized he didn’t even remember the previous day. 

I was rescued by my family about two weeks later – they drove me an hour and a half away without either of us knowing. However, about a month later I took him back. For another two years, I endured more abuse, this time more emotional and verbal, rather than physical. 

Then one day, he watched me talk to a co-worker on our lunch break. When I got home I immediately knew something was wrong. We got into an argument over my co-worker, because he thought I was getting his number. I tried to de-escalate things because I didn’t want a full blown argument, and was surprised when he became sweet and kind. He told me to go wash up, and come to bed. I did just that, and when I came to bed, he raped me so hard I threw up on the side of the bed. 

The next day, I kicked him out and have never seen him again. It took me eight years to share this story. I feel like I’ve only ever experienced hurt, abuse, and lies. However, I am not completely beaten yet. I know I am struggling with PTSD, depression, and anxiety, but I am working through it. There are times when I feel like everything about my life is just abject sadness, but there are other times that I’m reminded that I’m a survivor. 

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