CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses potentially sensitive topics, like domestic abuse, sexual assault, depression and anxiety, among others. Please use caution before reading.
I swore to myself that I would be completely transparent while writing this. I will try my best to fully capture what I was and am feeling.
I hope to spread awareness, and I hope that someone going through something similar can feel comforted. Comforted in the fact that someone else understands exactly what they’re also feeling.
I live on campus, and I had a conversation with my CA about this the other day. She said something like, “You’re such an inspiration. I just want you to know that you are strong, and you can do this. I believe in you.” And that is one of the many reasons why I want to share my story. Along with that, I am so thankful and privileged to have a platform in which I can do so.
There’s no good way to start an article about a topic like this, but I feel like I should start with where I am now in my journey. Today, I filed a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA) against my ex-boyfriend. The PFA was granted and he will be served the papers any day now. I finally have protection against him, and my hearing is next week.
Without going into detail about why exactly I filed a PFA against him, let’s just say that the typed statement that I gave to the PFA office was single-spaced and two pages long.
No one ever expects their partner—the person they sleep next to at night, the person they exchange “I love you’s” with, the person they want to marry—to harm them.
I never would have guessed that I would be walking down the hallway of a courthouse in my hometown, looking for a sign on the wall that says “PFA Office,” just seven months after I initially became his girlfriend. You never think you’re going to be in the exact situation that you watch movies and television shows about.
It took me so long, about five months to be exact, to even realize that the relationship was abusive. But love shouldn’t be painful. A relationship shouldn’t be so emotionally and mentally draining. A partner should never hit you.
For a long, long few months, there was no escape. There was no getting away from him. There was no saying “no.” And I never thought I would get to the point in my life where the term “no,” no longer had meaning.
I was defenseless. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
I gradually realized the extent of my trauma. Every time my phone got any type of notification, my heart completely stopped and I immediately reached for my phone. It didn’t matter how important what I was doing was.
Even now that I’m getting a PFA against him, and he is unable to contact me whatsoever, I could get a Gmail notification and my anxiety will go through the roof.
I was so worried about making him angry or doing something wrong that I would constantly check my phone during class, almost completely prohibiting me from learning or completing any work.
One day, I was in class and I checked my phone. I had more than 20 missed texts from him. My phone was on do not disturb, so I missed every text he had sent me. Panic set in immediately. My heart was racing. I shakily picked up my phone behind the screen of my laptop.
He wanted me to call him, even though I had already told him that I would be in class for the next hour. I did end up walking out of class to call him. I later found out he spammed my phone just so that I could check my Amazon app to see if a package that I ordered for him had arrived yet.
My depression just kept getting worse. I had all of these responsibilities that kept piling on top of one another. All of these commitments that I needed to fulfill. But how was I supposed to do anything when I couldn’t get out of bed? When I couldn’t even get myself to brush my teeth? When my kidneys began to hurt because I hadn’t peed in several, several hours?
The feeling of helplessness was beyond overwhelming. I stopped showering as often. I brushed my teeth maybe every couple of days. I would wear the same outfit two or more days in a row. I would skip class. I would skip meals. I was completely giving up.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be alive anymore, but rather I couldn’t stand to be living in the situation I was in.
I was coming to my family, close friends, classmates, co-workers and even professors with an issue that was next to impossible to solve; How do I get out of an abusive relationship?
“You need to get out.” How?
“Just block him on everything and move on.” I can’t. He lives in my house.
“Tell your parents, and they will get rid of him.” I did tell them. They did nothing. They don’t believe me when I tell them how bad it was.
In some ways, I don’t blame them. It’s hard to believe that something so horrible could happen to your daughter. Something so horrendous, and you didn’t even know it was happening, let alone under your own roof.
A couple of days ago, while I was still in the process of filing the PFA, I was reading through the notes on my phone. I came across this note that was untitled, written about a month ago. A month ago, I was still in a relationship with him. But I didn’t want to be.
This iPhone note read: “It feels like I’m walking on broken glass. Like I’m swimming against the current. Like I’m being suffocated with my own pillow. You were supposed to be the one. You were supposed to be saving me from the hurt, not causing it.”
Being alone at night is the worst part. My mind runs a race with no finish line. I can’t help but think about the moments when I was fearing for my life.
When I’m lying in bed, sheltered by the four dormitory walls, all I can think about is him using all of his weight against me. All I can think of is him taking away my ability of choice. Taking away my ability to speak. My ability to say “no” and for it to mean something.
Regardless of everything, I did it. I made it out. I did the “impossible.” I escaped him, and I’m free. He can never talk to me again. He can never take control of me again. Now, it’s just a matter of healing.
I am strong.
I am powerful.
I am enough.
I am more than enough, and I deserve so much better.
I want this article to be more than just me sharing my story. If you’re in a similar situation, I want to show you that you can get out. I want to be an example of that.
It wasn’t easy by any means. But it is possible. Don’t ever think it’s impossible.
It’s not going to be forever. It feels like it’ll never end, but I promise it does. It will.
Use your resources. Talk to your friends. Open up to your classmates. Let your co-workers in. Go to your professors’ offices. They are there for you. No matter how much of a burden you feel you are, I promise that you’re not. They care about you more than you realize. They want you to be safe.
If you’re a student at SRU, please reach out to the Student Counseling Center and Student Support. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788.
I wrote this article for The Rocket knowing full well that my name would be attached to it forever. And that’s the way it was intended. I want there to be a name, and a face, to the story.
I want you to know that you’re not alone. You’re not defenseless or helpless.
You are strong.