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One winter day during my junior year, I found out that he had cheated on me again. He became enraged as I walked away to my class but he didn't follow me. In that moment, I had two choices: I could either sit there and continue to be belittled in front of everyone because he wasn't going to leave, and nobody else was going to say or do anything, or I could walk out and be shamed anyway because I had given into his threats. As we walked down the hall, he spit in my face, pulled my necklace off my neck, threw it in the trashcan and he threw me up against the lockers. Mine is a story of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse.
After class had begun, I heard the door swing open, which was at the front of the classroom. He stayed at the door and looked toward the teacher and said to him in front of the whole class, "I need to speak to that fucking whore right there." He pointed at me, then he turned to me and said, "Bitch, get your fucking stupid ass out here now." Everybody turned and looked at me in shock but nobody said a word. It didn't begin immediately, in fact, there weren't any signs until we had been dating for almost a year.
I never imagined such shame and at 15 years old, understood it even less. It was those incidents that left long-lasting emotional scars. My story begins at the age of 14 and continues off and on until I was 22.
The signs weren't obvious, especially to a 14 year-old, but it began with him telling me he didn't like the shirts I wore, or that my skirt was too short; at the time, it was easy to mistake jealousy and control for adoration.
I am not bitter or resentful, I forgave him the day I left, but I knew I wanted more out of life.
Although I had been stripped of all remnants of self-worth, I found an ounce of esteem that told me I deserved better.
But I chose to keep my secret hidden, I chose to protect the people I loved, I chose to find my own way. I found my voice and rebuilt my foundation on self-acceptance and self-love.
I ended up in the hospital a few times and was put in counseling but I never spoke about the abuse. Nobody knew about the many deliberate close call, head-on collisions while he was threatening to "kill us both." Finally, after almost eight years of abuse, I knew I had to leave. I knew that if I continued on this path, I might never see the light through the darkness. I knew if I didn't leave I could fall back into the cycle.
Not because of some fight or big blowout, I was just done. I knew if I wanted any life at all, I had to choose me no matter what the cost. It took many years to repair the mental and emotional damage, but I'm here to say that it is possible.
It soon progressed to name-calling, insults, unfounded accusations, degradation, humiliation, and isolation.
The first step in domestic violence is to charm the victim; the second is to isolate the victim. I began believing I deserved the abuse, and thought everybody else believed I was who he said I was.