I am a survivor.
I am one of the twenty percent of high school girls who have been abused by their significant others.
Dating abuse is defined as a pattern of controlling behavior. Abuse is never acceptable whether it is physical, emotional, or sexual. It is not the victim’s fault and it is not caused by their personality or their actions. Abuse happens because one person makes a choice, whether it is conscious or unconscious, to hurt someone else.
I was sixteen years old when I met Eric. He is from England where he works as a journalist and he is thirty-two years old. That probably should have been my first clue. Why would an adult male be interested in a teenage girl from another country?
I had just lost my grandmother and needed someone, anyone, to go to for support in this difficult time in my life, which is probably why the situation didn’t set off any alarm bells in my head. So when I got a message from a seemingly nice, harmless man, I didn’t hesitate to respond.
Everything was great at first, Eric was caring and compassionate, and he even became interested in my writing and offered to put me in touch with one of his publishers to get me started.
Then he slowly became more and more controlling. Eric wanted to know where I was at every moment of every day, but he would disappear for long periods of time without telling me where he was, which is typical abusive behavior.
He told me sob stories of past girlfriends for whom he had done everything and once they got what they wanted they left him. So when I started to think about breaking up with him, I refrained from doing so because I thought I would seem ungrateful for the things he was doing to help with my writing.
However, the abuse got to the point where he was asking me to do inappropriate things at school and send improper pictures of myself to him. I refused to do anything at school but I made a bad choice and against my better judgment, I sent him the pictures he wanted.
I eventually decided to break it off with him, but when I told him, he threatened me. He told me he would send the pictures to my parents and my school and get me in a lot of trouble.
I see now that it wouldn’t have been me that got in trouble, but at the time, I believed him so I chose to stay with him.
After I tried to break up with him, things went from bad to worse. His threats, demands, and put downs increased in both quantity and severity. He told me that he had friends who lived near me that would hurt me if I ended things between us.
It got to the point where I was afraid to even slightly disagree with him because I didn’t know how he’d react. And when I was brave enough to state my opinion he would tell me I was stupid and that my opinion was a “pointless waste of his time” because he was so much more intelligent. I tried to end things with him again and made it about two weeks this time, but then his friends began sending me threatening messages saying I was not longer safe, no matter where I was. Even across an ocean, I was terrified.
I went back to him.
The worst part of this entire situation, looking back on it, was that I was completely alone. I was afraid to tell anyone because I feared what his or her reaction would be.
It was not until I met my husband, Daniel, that I was finally able to end things between me and Eric. I told Eric that I didn’t care about his threats and that he could no longer hurt me.
Abuse is never okay. It is not the victim’s fault; it is the abuser’s choice to be violent. The best thing we can do to prevent abuse is to watch out for our friends and look for the warning signs.
People in abusive relationships are often blinded by love and excuse the behavior of their significant others. If someone sees his or her friend in a questionable situation they should try to talk to him or her., but never try to make their decisions for them.
Survivor is a term used at places such as the Middle Way House (http://www.middlewayhouse.org/) to describe victims of rape and abuse. It is considered to be an empowering term that shows that abuse and rape are both life-threatening situations.
I am a survivor.