Survivor Story: The Abuse Escalated to Strangulation and Rape

Submitted by: *Brandy, Survivor

Survivors often admit that leaving an abuser was not a one-time event for them. Successfully exiting an abusive relationship can take an average of seven times, and each time a victim returns, there may be a short period of calm. However, once the abuse resumes, the level of violence typically escalates as the abuser moves in to reassert control over their victim.

Brandy ended a relationship with her abuser when it became too hard for her to continue dating him. After they got back together, he told Brandy that he resented her, and the abuse escalated over time to include severe emotional and financial abuse as well as physical and sexual violence. Their roommates intervened following the last assault, possibly saving her life, as her abuser had reached for his firearm when they came to her defense.

When we first started dating, things were going well between my ex and me. It was a wonderful relationship at first, but over time, things changed. It was not until after I left, however, that I noticed just how abusive the relationship became.

Looking back, I remember the night it started going downhill. We met on a dating app, and although we had not yet met in person, we were still regularly talking on the app and texting back and forth. One night, a close friend of the family came over and was making me feel really uncomfortable. My ex told me that he did not like my friend touching me the way they were. I, however, thought nothing of it until I went away for a few months to take care of a dying family member. While I was there, my father read our messages and blamed the friend, saying that he was molesting me.

I could no longer handle talking to or dating my ex, so I broke it off. He went back to his ex and slept with her two weeks after our breakup. When we got back together, he told me that he resented me when he decided to go to her.

Things deteriorated from there. We started to fight all the time, and he would ignore me when he got upset during our fights. I would be left having a panic attack, and he did not care. He would turn his phone off at night, and I was unable to contact him when I needed to. This silence was unlike him, as the first time we dated, we often talked throughout the night.

Eventually, he started calling me names and withheld affection, refusing to hug me or hold my hand. I started losing friends because of him, and I still thought nothing of it. When I would work back to back shifts for 11 hours, he would guilt me into giving him money. On one occasion, he fought with me for a week to pay the rent on a place where I did not even live. He wanted the extra money I made from working late nights on holidays to pay his rent because he spent his money on weed, toys, and food.

Then earlier last year, the abuse started to get physical. We got into a fight in his car one evening in a parking lot. When I tried to get out of the car, he grabbed me from behind and pinned me to the center console. I could not escape, and when I tried, he tightened his grip and started strangling me. When I told him that I was not able to breathe, he said it was no big deal and that I was just panicking. I still stayed with him.

After we moved in together, he raped me. During fights, he would forcibly grab me and pin me down if I tried to remove myself from the situation. When I started to get depressed and became suicidal, he would tell me to just go die. Then, our fights grew worse and escalated into hours of screaming matches and being told how much I needed him. He told me that I could not stand on my own, that I was a failure and a child. It rarely stopped there. He often said that I did not do anything right, no one would love me the way he did, and all my family and friends hated me. I still stayed.

I even moved across the country away from my family for him because he promised it would get better. The breaking point came when he was mad at me for not having a job two weeks after I got to our new “home.” He had held me down, and I felt trapped. In trying to get away from him, I bit him, and he thought it warranted shoving me down on the bed. He bit me back really hard on the shoulder – hard enough that he drew blood.

He stormed out the door and came back an hour later, smelling of alcohol, and apologized to me with flowers and ice cream. Our roommates were not having it, and they confronted him for attacking me, especially since he was a gun trainer and held to a higher standard. He became agitated and tried reaching for his gun. I went into a panic, and our roommates were able to subdue him. Somehow, he managed to run out of the house and later checked himself into a mental hospital. A week later, he was released, and I have not seen him since.

*Name(s) have been changed – and in some cases omitted – to protect the identity of the survivor and others affected by the abuse.

**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. For crisis services, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

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