The Night My Life Changed 

“I don’t even want to do anything tonight, ” he said. I was annoyed. I had planned so much for him tonight and he didn’t want anything to do with it. No one even wanted to come until I begged them to. I had to message his own friends myself and ask them to come out for his birthday because no one wanted to. I picked him up a bit early, as usual, and he came over to my apartment. He was so whiny. “I’m not in a good mood” he snapped at me more than once. I was doing so much for him and he couldn’t even shut up to appreciate it. At this point, I just wanted the night to be over. I was already exhausted of his nagging and pouting and after all, it was a Wednesday night. I had been excited to do all of this for him, but at this point, I was ready to get in my pj’s and go to bed. He continued his nagging the entire time I was getting ready. One thing after another bothered him. I put down my mascara and went over to my bed where he was sprawled out. I laid down next to him and tried to hold him as close as I could. “I just want you to be happy”. It was true. I just wanted his happiness.

I didn’t care if anyone even ended up coming, I was determined to make it a good night for him. I found it a rather special night since we started being a “thing” per say around his last birthday a year ago. I figured we had made it so far, and it had it’s ups and downs, but I still loved him. Yea he hit me a few times, but he assured me it wasn’t abuse. We sat down together and looked up the definition of domestic violence. Yea, that’s right, I was dumb enough to sit down with the guy who ended up breaking my face, and researching his abuse. Of course, he was going to convince me what he was doing to me wasn’t abuse, that it was normal. So I stuck with it.

I continued to get ready as he laid on my bed. I would continually hear a moan or a groan, but I ignored it, knowing that if I brought it up, he would explode. I felt like I was walking on eggshells. Everyone was coming soon and I had to put on a smile. I had to because I had essentially begged everyone else to come that night. If I looked unhappy, then everyone was sure to leave. I couldn’t let him down like that. I had to make it perfect. I tried to cheer him up once more before the night started. He agreed that he was in a bad mood and that he would try to make an effort. It calmed me down for the time being. Everyone began arriving and he began drinking. And I mean drinking. One after the other faster than I could fathom. In the matter of an hour, he went from making me feel like crap, to treating me like a princess. He started touching me and hugging me and kissing me. He never does this in front of everyone so I’m thrown off, but I let it happen. The night seems to be a blur. I follow him everywhere, continually feeling the eggshells under my feet. I lose him for a second once we get to the bar. I see him walk out from the bathroom with someone and I know exactly what he was doing in there. I brush it off and continue to try to please him. After many drinks out, we go back to his fraternity. I feel a bit tipsy but mostly just delirious from my drowsiness. He’s extremely drunk but I brush that off as well, it is his 21st after all. I pretend not to be bothered by his obnoxious drunkenness that I’m oh so used to.We walk up the stairs and I make a beeline for his room.

I’m so tired. I have school in the morning and I’m ready for bed. I grab my sleep shirt in the corner and take off my shorts. My eyes get heavy as I try to tuck myself into bed. He starts to yell. I am so delirious I am not sure why he’s upset now. I felt it coming all night since he started it in a bad mood. I tried to ignore it and roll over but he threatened me. He begins to raise his voice and yells at me to get the fuck out of his bed. I try to ignore it once again, he’s just drunk. But this time he yells at me again, saying he’s going to call my mother. “I could have any girl in my bed right now” he laughs. “I’m calling your mom to get you the fuck out of here”. He starts laughing to himself. The heat starts rising in my face. How dare he threaten me with another girl?  How can he say he’s going to force me out of his room after all I did for him tonight? I try to get up from his bed but I feel pushed down. Everything goes black. I have a flash of a fist coming towards my face. And black again. Another fist coming towards my face from below. And black again. Panic. He’s panicking. My eye my eye why does my eye hurt? My eye hurts and I don’t know why. He’s standing over me in the bathroom stall. “I’m sorry I’m sorry” he’s begging. I’m leaning over the toilet and letting him pat my face. I don’t know what’s happening. Where am I. Who am I with. Why does my face hurt? Black again. He’s panicking. But I feel okay. A weird sense of calm washes over me. I fade to black once again.

I’m cold. I’m so cold. Water is washing over me and it warms me up but only for a minute until a new wave of warm water hits my skin. I hear a bickering of voices in the background but my mind blocks it out. My mind is focused on the warm water washing over my face. My mouth has a metallic taste but I can’t seem to figure out why. I still haven’t come to the conclusion of why I’m standing in the shower, but I know I don’t want to leave. I feel safe. The voices start to meander over closer to me. I start to feel people’s hands rubbing my back and I flinch. I realize who it is and I let them take me out of the shower. The second the warm water leaves my face a rush of pressure hits my eye. It starts pulsating and beating fast. What happened? What on earth happened to me? I get wrapped in a towel and taken down the stairs. It starts to hit me where I am. I’m only wearing a shirt and underwear. I don’t even realize it at the time. I’m walked down the familiar steps that I’ve walked down way too many times. I start to see the lights outside. It still isn’t hitting me what’s going on. My mind is protecting me from the pain of remembering what I just went through. I’m walked into the kitchen and sat down in a chair. It’s weird being in here without all the flashing lights and the people. It’s so dark. I can barely see a thing. I wonder how everyone else can see without the lights on. A cop approaches me and sits across from me. There’s the weird familiar sound of cops buzzing all around me. Their stern voices can be heard from the doorway. I can’t see anything around me. I have no sense of peripheral vision and it makes me feel uneasy. Someone’s hand rubs my back and I sink into it, feeling a tad bit safer. The cop sits down in front of me. I feel the pressure in my eye build up and feel water dripping down my face. The water reaches my mouth and I realize it’s not water. Its blood. Why is there blood dripping down my face? Instantly I know exactly what happened. He hit me. I don’t know how or why. But I know he’s in trouble. My mind goes instantly to him. Is he okay? Where is he? I want to hold his hand. The cop starts asking me if I want to press charges. “No please no” I beg him. “I don’t want him to get in trouble I love him”. The cop explains to me that he’s going to jail whether I press charges now or not. I can’t make this decision right now. It’s too fresh. I’m still not sure what happened to me. I just know that I love him. “Please don’t” I beg. I notice a girl staring at me from behind the corner. I feel her eyes feeling sorry for me. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m that girl. I’m the girl everyone will feel sorry for. I don’t want to be pitied. I beg the police officer to not press any charges. I beg and beg. I’m not coherent in any way. I don’t know where he is. I panic and panic What’s going to happen? He’s not going to be okay. He’s never going to forgive me for this. The water and blood continue to drip down my face. I start to get cold again and wish that I was standing in the warm shower. I try as hard as I can to remember what happened before the shower for the police. But no memory is coming to me. I try and try to remember but the only memory that seems to reach the forefront is the memory of the warm water. I feel heavy hands on my shoulders and I know it’s my dad. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed to be sitting here in this position. I don’t want my dad to see me like this. “Where is he? Is he ok?” I don’t even know if the words are coming out of my mouth but the thoughts run through my head on a continual loop. I don’t want him in trouble. All I can think about is him. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. I’m still confused as to how everyone else can see with all of the lights off. I think I’m okay. I’m not in pain so I must look okay. Every other time he hit me I was okay so this time must be the same. Everyone is overreacting. I wish everyone had just left us alone to figure it out. I can’t believe they took him away from me. We could have just talked about it. They don’t understand. My dad walks me out, wrapped in his jacket that I’ve now ruined with my wet hair. I quietly and non-discretely look around for him. He has to be somewhere. But I can’t find him anywhere. My dad hurries me to the car so we can drive to the emergency room. I’m not really sure why we’re going but now I start to think that maybe my face is a lot worse than I think. I am so out of it that I don’t second guess that I’m walking into the emergency room in my underwear. My memory cuts off again. Black. I’m cold. I’m staring at the ceiling.

My memory cuts off again. Black. I’m cold. I’m staring at the ceiling. In movies they always make you feel like you’re trapped. Laying down on a hospital bed and staring at bright yellow, blinding lights. That’s how it is right now. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know why. I feel stuck. Trapped. I can’t move or speak. I hear nothing around me but the buzzing of some machines and the soft hum of voices in the distance. A sense of panic sets in before I settle into complete darkness again.

This time when I come too I feel the pressure. My eye feels tied down to the back of my head. I start to feel pain surrounding my mouth where the iron taste of blood lingers. Too much air seems to be hitting my teeth. My lips are holding my mouth open too wide. I wonder how my mouth is even swollen. I feel cold hands on my arm and flinch. I feel like I’m stuck in a paralysis and no one knows that my mind is racing. The world around me is spinning and buzzing but I am still. I am still but my mind is a constant racing thought. Everyone around me seems to be oblivious to the fact that I’m conscious. The nurse yells at me to stay still but I don’t remember telling my body to move. She pins my arm down harder and I internally flinch from the pain. She stabs a needle in my arm and I lose consciousness again.

I come to once again but still feel paralyzed. I try to remember where I am once again. I can only focus on the bright yellow light above me. I fade out of it again.

Pain. It hits me at once. I come to again. I realize I need to pee. It’s been hours since I’ve gotten up. Who knows if the sun is up or not. I try to sit up and the pressure comes rushing like a boulder down a hill to my face. My eye feels as if it’s about to explode out of my own face. I slow myself down and it seems to take years for me to sit up. A nurse walks me to the bathroom. I try as hard as possible to avoid all reflective surfaces. I stare down at the ground as I feel everyone’s harsh stares. All eyes are on me as I walk down the hallway of the emergency room. Once at the bathroom I look straight to the ground. I can’t look at myself. I can feel the pain now and know that it can’t be pretty. I realize the reason I thought the lights have been off had been because my eye is swollen shut. I’ve been walking around in the darkness. It feels as if my eye has been clamped shut. Warm fluid runs from it down my face and I try to hurry to avoid the mirror. I catch a slight glance of myself at the sink and my stomach sinks. I look down as fast as possible. I leave the bathroom to find myself lost. I have no idea how I got there and not a great memory of why I was there. I try to go in a direction that felt familiar. I find myself at the end of a hallway and in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. A crew of nurses are working to resuscitate an older man and I stand in shock. What am I doing here? I’m frozen. The world around me gets darker and darker. I feel like I’m dreaming and I forget how to work my legs. I’m a bloody zombie walking around in a hospital robe. A male nurse rushes over to me. “You’re not from this unit” he snaps at me. “I don’t know where I came from,” I tell him. He tries to convince me that I wasn’t in the emergency room but I am pretty certain that I was. I start to believe him until he grabs my wrist and realizes that I was indeed from the emergency room. I tell him once again that I have no idea where I came from or what I was doing there. I somehow return back to my bed and have no memory of how I got there. I lay back down and again, fade into darkness.

I try continually to reach back into my mind and pull out the memories from that night. I haven’t been able to regain any of the blackouts. I’ve tried over and over again, but have never been successful. I am still not sure what lead to him hitting me. I am not sure how it happened either. I will never know what happened that night to make him react like that. Some parts of me wish I could talk to him just to ask what was going through his head. Another part of me wants to know if he’s sorry. But I know that I need to move on in my life without those answers.

I suffered two orbital fractures. There was a fracture along the bridge of my nose and another on my orbital floor. My eye was swollen shut for more than a week. I avoided all mirrors for that time and didn’t see how bad my eye was until I looked back on the police report pictures. I don’t remember the cat scan from the emergency room. I barely remember the doctors coming to check me out. I don’t remember them taking out all six of my earnings for the cat scan. I found three of them in a hospital bag later covered in blood. I found the other three recently in a bag he had given to my friends to give back to me. All of the earring backs were completely bent at a 90-degree angle. I don’t know how or why he took them out that night. My eye was recessed into my head by 2 millimeters. It was visually smaller than my right eye. I had to wear fake eyelashes for months because my left eye looked so deformed. I had surgery about a month after. The ophthalmologist told me I needed immediate surgery. The tissue in my eye could get sucked into my fracture and result in dropping on the left side of my face. I was at a high risk for double vision. He also wanted to fix the recess of my eye and bring it forward. The surgery was cosmetically successful. However, since then I have had eye pressure and pain. I am due for a cat scan soon with an ENT and hopefully, there is no infection and it is healing well. I have a small scar above my eye that always reminds me of him. I thought it would fade, but it is still there.

We are still dealing with the legal side of it. It seems never ending, but I am strong enough to not give up. I can’t say too much about that besides the fact that it has been following me for months and months. He has been lingering around in my life for months and months. Some days I think I can’t do it anymore, but I also remind myself that he can’t do that to me. The rest of my life will be defined by this night. I think about it every morning and every night. He haunts my dreams at night and my day dreams during the day. This night has changed me and will haunt me for as long as I live. It has changed me physically and emotionally. I cannot remember half of the night. But what I do remember plays back in my head like a broken record. The dark memories creep up on me when I least expect it. I disappear into my memories and completely lose myself from the real world. When I see him in court I freeze. My stomach turns into knots. My palms turn into a sweaty mess as I attempt to calm myself down. He brings back a rush of memories, half of them a black mess. As I sit there in his vicinity I get cold. So cold that I’m brought back to that night. The cold. The water rushing over my skin. The happiness I felt in the warmth of the soothing water before I realized what had happened. When he had hit me so hard that I was completely out of it. When he had hit me so hard that I had no idea where I was for two days. When he hit me so hard that a block of memories left my mind forever, to be forgotten and buried by a black curtain for the rest of my life.

Living a Nightmare: A Very Real Look Into My Nightmares About My Abusive Ex-boyfriend

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“Sometimes in the middle of the night I can feel you again. But I just miss you and I just wish you were a better man” Little Big Town

I’m waiting outside to be picked up. I’m nervous but excited. A car pulls up. It’s red. I get in and it’s him. I’ve missed him so much. I get in and buckle up. He puts his hand on my leg and smiles at me. I’ve missed him so so much. We laugh and joke like we used to. We go to pick up lunch. We hold hands everywhere we go like we used to. I miss his presence so much but can’t remember why I haven’t seen him in so long. I can’t figure out why we’ve been apart. Our day continues and I feel so happy. I forgot what it felt like to feel like that.  I forgot what love felt like. But then I start to feel uneasy. I feel uncomfortable and nervous. All the sudden it hits me. I remember that he hit me. I remember that he had me bloody and bruised in the bathroom stall. I remember the emergency room. I remember my surgery. I remember the restraining order. I finally turn to him and say “don’t you remember? Don’t you remember what you did to me”? He smirks. He always smirked the exact same way in real life. He smirks and he whispers “Yea I remember”. “I can’t be with you again you hurt me” I scream. He keeps driving. He doesn’t let me out. I can’t get out and he’s laughing. I keep yelling that he hurt me but he doesn’t care. “Why don’t you care”?! I shout at him. “Because I’m a psychopath”. I wake up drenched in sweat. Panicking. I search around me frantically because it feels like he was right there. I feel him all around me. I can’t shake the feeling of him being near me. That feeling follows me all day long. It feels all too real. Every. Single. Time.

“I was trapped in that nightmare

shaking

trembling

terrified

afraid

scared.

my nightmare didn’t happen just once.”

As hard as I try to forget what happened to me and who did it to me, the one place I can never seem to forget it all is in my dreams. He’s in them every night. The dream is always different, but they are always way too real. It takes me a whole day to recover from one. It follows me all day like a dark cloud hanging over my head. It’s like a dream that feels real, but 900 times worse. Every dream starts the same. We get back together and we’re so happy. I miss being around him so much. We could spend days or hours together, it always changes. After being back together and being so happy again, I start to feel weird. I start to remember what he did to me. But once I remember it’s too late. He knows I remember and he thinks it’s funny. He thinks he’s tricked me and starts laughing. Once i remember everything he did to me, it’s too late. I’m trapped and I can’t get away from him.

“The most frightening nightmare of all is neither of monsters, ghosts, lost teeth or great falls but the simple lovely awful dream of a lover who loves you no more.” Beau Taplin: My Lovely Nightmare 

I’m walking to class. I can’t seem to find the entrance to my classroom, but I’ve had the class all semester. I keep walking to the wrong building. I can’t find the right door. I keep circling the building but I can’t find the door anymore. I finally go in through the back of the building even though I know it’s the wrong door. I push my way through filing cabinets. I walk into what seems to be an office. For some reason it seems like a legal office but also a help center office. I’m not quite sure but the people know me there. They greet me. They hand me some papers at the front desk. It’s a police report. I feel like I’ve been out of it, or away for a few days. I read about what happened to me. He hit me, I went to the hospital, I was covered in blood. I keep reading. Page after page it’s mostly stuff I know in real life. But then I get to a picture. This picture then transports me inside it. I’m standing next to him. He’s laying in a hospital bed. He’s hooked up to so many wires. His mom is standing over him crying. They can’t see me but I’m standing right next to them. I put my hand on his but he can’t feel me there. I’m standing in the past. I can’t do anything to save him. His mom starts getting more and more upset. He’s gone. He’s dead. His mom is crying and yelling. I snap back to the office. I am staring at the picture of him in the bed. I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the heart. I have never felt such immense sadness. I can’t breathe, I’m sobbing. I throw the papers down on the floor and run out. I try to go see him but it’s too late. It happened two days ago. He’s already gone. I check his mom’s Facebook to see if he really passed away. He had. I was crushed. I couldn’t stop crying. I had lost him. I never felt a sadness like that before. I couldn’t believe that i had lost him. I tried to do something for his family. I found them and they started yelling at me. I couldn’t understand why. I loved him. I was just trying to help. His mom began yelling at me. I killed him. I was the one that killed him and it was all my fault. I ruined her son. Her Facebook feed was covered with my face. She was sharing my blog saying that I wrote it for attention. She ended up writing a book about how I killed her son and ruined his life all for attention on my blog. But then I woke up from that dream. But I was still dreaming. Like inception. He was actually alive. I was so torn apart about thinking that I had lost him. I was so sad that I could have lost him that I made my way down to the office again. I talked to my prosecutor about dropping all the charges because I was so upset about not being with him. I tried to convince them that I loved him and wanted to be with him again and they had to drop all of the charges. When I woke up I was drenched in sweat again. Pretty bad this time since the dream seemed so incredibly real. I was somber all day because I felt like I had lost him all over again. The whole day was like having my head in a cloud.

It’s like he still has some hold on me even though we have no communication anymore. He still has the power to ruin my day. He still has the power to make me miss him all day long. I hate that he has this power and he doesn’t even know it. He ruins my days without even trying. Just the mere memory of him can drag me down for an entire day. He distracts me from work, school, driving, eating. Sometimes I drive from point A to point B and have no idea how I got there. The entire time I just replay the dream over and over again. It’s like I live in the dream throughout the entire day. The only way to get out of the dream is to go back to sleep and hope that I don’t have one about him that night.

I’m driving. I know exactly where I’m going. I don’t know how I know, I think someone told me. But I can picture exactly where he is. I know which apartment is his. It’s across from Taco Bell on Speedway. I pull into the parking lot. I can see him in the window from outside. I’m not supposed to talk to him. I have a restraining order against him and if I talk to him I could ruin anything in evidence. I know that but I can’t help it. I sneak inside and count the number of windows all the way down to his door. He opens the door and sneaks me in. He hugs me once I’m inside. It feels so good to be in his arms again. He hurries me in the corner and says I have to hide. His family is visiting and staying in his apartment. When his mom comes in she starts to yell about me. She says that I ruined his life. I exaggerated about everything for attention. He tries to argue that I didn’t that he’s the one that hurt me. He tries to tell her how stupid he was. She doesn’t listen. Finally  they turn the lights out to go to sleep. He comes by the bed that I’m hiding next to and gets under the covers with me. He holds me and it feels so safe. I’m about to fall asleep when the lights switch on. She knows I’m there. He tries to run me out of the apartment and into my car. He tries to hurry me into my car but I don’t want to leave him. He urges me to go. I beg him to come with me. I need him I can’t go without him. He promises that I can come back for him once his mom leaves. But he forces me in the car alone and I have to drive away watching him stand in the parking lot alone. I can’t stop crying and I feel so alone. I’m so mad that I had to leave him.  The whole next morning I’m just as sad.

I know my subconscious is telling me that as much as I miss him and want him back in my life, he’s not meant to be in it. I always try to get back with him because naturally, I still miss him. Your mind only thinks about the good memories. It conveniently always seems to ignore the bad ones. So every night I go to bed and my mind replays all those tiny good moments. And when I’m asleep those good moments are just enough. They’re just enough to make me incredibly happy in that moment. Because in reality I’d give anything to just have those good moments back. But then my subconscious remembers how much he hurt me. Not just the last time, but every emotional and physical scar he left on me in the course of our relationship. Once I remember what he did to me, I snap out of it and try and get away. But I can never escape in the end. To me that’s my mind telling me if I ever tried to go back to him, I would never be able to escape. Something way worse would happen to me before I could. I’m lucky something way worse didn’t happen to me in real life. But I’m glad my subconscious knows to shake me out of it.

We’re standing in my kitchen. We’re dancing around cooking dinner like we used to do. He’s twirling me around when I stumble and fall into his arms. I look up and him and smile. Everything seems so right in this moment. It all seems to go back to normal. But then I remember. I remember what he did to me. It hits me so fast. When I realize what he did to me, I try to tell him. “You hit me Jeff”. But he just laughs. “I know” he says. I try to get away but I can’t. I try to ask him why he did it. “Why did you do it? Why?” But he just smiles and says ” Because I’m a psychopath and that’s what I do Sydney”. 

We’re driving again. This time tensions are high. I’m trying to talk to him but he won’t listen he keeps turning up the radio. His hand is on my thigh and he’s caressing me in a loving way. He turns over and smiles and I try to smile back. We’re driving for a while and everything seems normal. I seem happy for a bit. It seems like real life before everything happened. I keep trying to ask him what happened but I get scared. I don’t remember the night everything happened. I don’t remember why he did it. I try to ask him. He tells me it doesn’t matter. But WHY did you hit me? He assures me it doesn’t matter. I can’t figure out why it happened. He says don’t worry. He loves me. And we keep driving and listening to music as he rubs my hand. 

I’m not sure if I will ever remember what happened that night. Looking back at pictures has brought up a few new memories but I still can’t remember why he hit me. Other times he had hit me I was fully conscious. The last time it happened seemed like a huge dark blur. When I look back at pictures, all the lights were on behind me. But in my memory, all the lights were off. In my memory it was so dark I couldn’t even see anyone in front of me. So it’s natural that not knowing why he hit me is going to haunt me in my dreams. It’s like he knows the answer and I always try to ask him in my dreams but he just laughs. I still may never know why. These dreams are like a huge tease. I feel like I’m back with him, but I’m not. I’m about to get answers, but I don’t.

They say that nightmares or dreams that repeat themselves, or have repeating themes, are extremely important. They are trying to tell you something. I hate to say it out loud or even write it down in words, but I still love my ex. I still love him so much more than I ever wish I had the ability to. But that’s normal. Of course, when you tell someone that, their reaction is always the same. “You’re insane, how the heck can you love someone like that after what they did to you”?? But I can’t help it. So listening to friends and family give me the same answer over and over again isn’t helping. I have to figure it out on my own. I have slowly begun to realize that these nightmares are my way of figuring it out for myself. Every time in the dream I realize, he’s no good, get out. But I can never escape. That’s my answer right there. I can’t love him like that ever again. If in some parallel universe that final night never happened, somewhere down the line he would still find a way to hurt me just as bad. I tell myself, well what if he didn’t hit me that bad that final night and we worked our relationship out after that? UM FUCK NO! That’s crazy talk. He would still find a way to hurt me. But I have to figure that answer out for myself. And slowly along the way I hope that these nightmares continue to help me realize that. Because nothing feels as real as waking up and feeling like I can’t run away from him. Eventually I think the nightmares will subside, but for now I will let them run their course. It is just a way for me to heal my own wounds. I will let the happy memories continue to exist only in my subconscious and try to bring the rational thoughts about our relationship into my reality the next day. He will always know what he did to me and he can never change that. Not in my dreams or real life.

“I drag myself out of nightmares each morning and find there’s no relief in waking.”

Gaby’s Story

I was a senior in high school and my parents had recently gotten divorced. I came from a good home in Southern California. My dad was a stock broker and had always provided for us and my mom stayed at home, and I had never once doubted I was loved. Unfortunately, things quickly changed once they split up. My dad turned to drugs and my mom was emotionally unavailable most of the time. Socially, I had a good group of friends. I was on the cheer team but I had always felt like the ugly one. I was bigger and most of my core group of girls were insanely funny and pretty. I had guys like me, but it wasn’t like my friends, where guys were chasing them. So low and behold my excitement when we get new neighbors next door who happen to have a son my age. We kind of just admired each other from afar at first. He would drive by fast in his huge truck and I would make any excuse to walk to the mailbox or be outdoors which is totally unlike me. As my dad and his mom became friends we started to see more of each other. He would come over and watch movies or we’d all have dinner together. I’d fall asleep on the couch and he would cover me with a blanket and rub my back. We made out a little and stuff but it was mostly being there for each other when we both had no one. However, the reality was I really didn’t know him very well. I had never met any of his friends, seen how he was socially, or any “normal” things people get a chance to observe in a relationship. I knew he had a really rough childhood, his mother was an alcoholic and his father wasn’t in this picture. He didn’t graduate high school, slept a majority of the day and played video games all night…he also smoked weed and relied heavily on Xanex. I didn’t care though, it was someone who liked me and listened to me and at that time I needed that. Eventually we started a seriously dating. I had never had a boyfriend before so I was unaware what was normal and what was not. He never came off as abusive at first, in fact I don’t even remember arguing ever. I do remember the first time he hit me though. We were sitting in his truck after running errands and I made a joke about how his big truck was “making up for something”, I was clearly kidding but he didn’t take it that way. He looked at me and slapped me across the face, hard. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. I got out of the car and went into my room and the next morning there was roses and a card waiting. Like there always was, and I forgave him. What else was I supposed to do? He was all I had in my wildly unstable world. The next 3 years was quite a blur, I can honestly say when things like this happen you become so emotionally destroyed and find yourself blocking memories out. I don’t remember specific details of everything but I do remember how it felt. To feel like if I lost him I had nothing. How he must care about me even though he hurt me, how he needed help and I could “fix” him. Over the course of this “project” I got choked, I got hit, I got bit, scratched, kicked in the stomach, pinched etc. One of the last fights I remember was when he refused to wake up for Father’s Day brunch. We HAD to leave or we would be late and I didn’t want to risk that, let alone he didn’t even want to go. He was complaining about wanting to smoke weed and not having any money. He looked at me and asked me dead serious to steel money from my dad over lunch and bring it back for him. I simply told him he was crazy and walked out. I was so furious that A) he was making me late to this lunch B) that he wasn’t coming and C) that he was just an idiot. I walked out and I told one of his family friends that was staying at the house what had just happened. As I proceeded to walk out the front door he comes up and grabs me and says ” Did you just tell her what I asked you” and I bluntly admitted I did. He punched me in the face, grabbed my over night bag and ran into the street throwing my stuff everywhere. I picked it all up while he stood over me yelling. I got into my car and he rammed his knee into my car door, leaving a lovely $1,000 dent. After this things took a downwards turn for him. We had not spoken in a few days and his mom called me crying saying “he’s lost it, we lost him”. His sister explained he must have done something drug related, he was in the street naked and crying, saying he was in heaven. They called 911 and he was placed on a 5150 and stayed for about a week at the hospital. I came to visit one, he was beyond out of it, trying to leave and saying I was an angel there to take him. It turns out he had been taking 4 times his dose of Xanex and decided one day to stop cold turkey. Withdrawing off something like that and not being careful can make you exhibit signs of schizophrenia. I didn’t go back and visit, even though he put me through so much pain its still hurtful to see someone you love suffering. After he got out he was never the same, I went over a week or so later and went to lunch with him and his mom. He stopped the car on the middle of Sepulveda Blvd in Los Angeles and told us he was going to kill us. We had to pin him down and take the keys and he ran into the street sobbing. I told his mom I was sorry and I couldn’t do it anymore. I left and never saw him again. I don’t know that I have ever really faced what happened, sure I’ve talked about it in therapy often, but it still dangles over me like a bad dream. I think of him almost every day and how different my life is now because of that. If there is anything I want to share its that you cannot fix anyone. If you are being treated poorly you need to know you deserve better. We are all human and deserve the love and respect we give. XO, Gaby

Brittany’s Story 

Brittany has always been the friend you go to when you need anything in my sorority. No matter what it is, what time of day it is, she’ll be there for you in two seconds. I think I speak for most people in my sorority when I say she is a strong soul. She’s independent and radiates confidence wherever she goes. She was there for me when I went through everything with my ex and I know she’ll be there for me for anything I need in the future. That’s why when she messaged me with the idea to publish other people’s stories and told me she was willing to share hers I was shocked. I had always looked up to her and her bravery and confidence and never knew anything like this had happened to her. It just goes to show how well victims can hide their stories. We don’t mean to hide it from anyone we love, but damn is it hard to finally share.

I am so proud of your bravery and am so lucky to have a sister like you in my life Brittany. Thank you for sharing your story. We’re not alone and I know we’ll continue to spread awareness and strength to other victims. XOXO

I wanted a boyfriend so badly when I got to college, and despite all my friends and new sorority sisters telling me not to, I got a boyfriend my freshman year. We met through my friend from home, whom I’m still close to, and we started talking the first week of college. We started dating a few weeks later.
He was charming, to say the least. I fell asleep while we were watching a movie in his dorm room one night and he didn’t wake me. He set an alarm so I could wake up and get back to my dorm before my 9am, and then he walked me to my dorm across campus from his. He was funny and he made me feel secure, which is special when you’re in a new unfamiliar place.
About two months later, I turned 18. I was still a virgin, and I wanted to keep it for someone special (like everyone else). It was my birthday, and we had never really argued. We’ve had moment where we got annoyed with each other or whatever, but nothing major. My parents were in town and I wanted them to meet him. We all went to dinner for my birthday, but afterwards, I wanted to go out with my friends to the frats. I had told him the plan days before, but when the time came to go out he got upset with me. He kept saying how I was chasing my friends over him and I just wanted to go flirt and make out with other guys. I reassured him that it wasn’t like that, and that I just wanted to have fun on my birthday. He said it was fine, so I got ready for my night out and before I left, I went to say good bye to him. He closed the door and locked it, and told me how much he loved me and cared about me and told me to text him if I needed him. Then he started to tell me how I don’t love him and how I don’t want to be with him as much as he wants to be with me. He slammed me up against the door and made me promise I would come in before I went to sleep. I did. I was too scared not too,
About a week later, we were sitting in bed talking and he asked me if I saw a future with him. At that time, I did, I at least hoped for one. He then rolled over and got on top of me and kissing me. I didn’t think much of it because we had made out several times before, but then he started to take my clothes off. I don’t want to say I was raped, because he was my boyfriend and I really did care for him, but I didn’t want to have sex yet.
Months later I had strep four times in a span of 6 weeks, so I planned to get my tonsils removed after break. I told him I was getting them out new years eve day – Jan 31st. He offered to fly to Washington from Arizona to come see me and stay with me after. We were supposed to go home the 10th. I got them removed and I felt awful. Around day 7, I wasn’t okay. I was bleeding horribly, so I got emergency surgery. I couldn’t fly on the 10th, but that wasn’t okay with him. We were supposed to go back together. He made me feel bad for days, not that I didn’t already feel horrible with open wounds in my mouth. I took him to the airport on the 10th and he didn’t talk to me the whole way. He left and three days later told me he was sorry and he wished I would’ve come back with him, and then, after all of that he told me he thought I was faking it. After watching me bleed and sitting in the emergency room while I was in surgery TWICE, he thought I was faking it.
I forgave him, we all do. I got back to Arizona and started looking for a place to live for the next school year. I did it in secret because he wanted to live with me, but I wanted to live with my friends. I went out one night and met a guy in a frat who seemed really cool and we started talking, as friends. I came home after that night and went to his room to say good night like I always did. I had a shirt from the frat because someone gave me an extra one. He lost it. He started yelling at me and when I went to walk out, he grabbed my wrist and pinned me to the wall. Luckily my friends were in the hallway and they started banging on the door. He let me go, and I ran out.
Again, I forgave him. A few days later I came back from being with friends and I told him I was done. He cried and begged me to stay, but this time I was done for real. I left and went to my room. He called me and told me he was going to kill himself if I didn’t come see him at his car. I went. I got in the car and we started driving around the parking garage. He kept yelling at me, and then he started accelerating and told me that if he couldn’t have me, no one could as he drove his car towards a concrete wall. He decided against it but he couldn’t brake in time. His car collided with the wall, but that was it for us. He was removed from the University and I haven’t seen or talked to him since.

For the First Time: When He First Hit Me & When I First Thought He Was Savable

I’ve only ever told one best friend, my mom and the police about the first time I experienced physical abuse with my ex. They don’t even know the half of it. That is probably because at the time he convinced me that what happened was in fact, not abuse. Now if you look abuse up online you’ll read that it is “the improper use of something”. If you look up physical abuse, google says that it is any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body. Sometimes abusive behavior does not cause pain or even leave a bruise, but it’s still unhealthy. Examples of physical abuse include: Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking”. Trust me, I experienced all of those with him and it all started one weekend in Vegas.

The first time blindsided me. I guess that’s the reason that I let it go so easily. I felt that it didn’t really happen. It just felt like a bad dream that I woke up from. The first time was about 7 months into the relationship. We were on a trip with his fraternity in Las Vegas. The weekend started off right away with a huge fight. And guess how stupid this fight was. Insanely stupid. We were at the pool and I decided that I should socialize with the other dates. I’m usually pretty anti-social with other girls and wanted to branch out and be nice. I met one date who’s date was ignoring her a bit and so I decided to try and hangout with her. We were pretty sober and everyone else seemed pretty intoxicated so we decided to go to one of the bathrooms to drink some of our own alcohol. (since drinks in Vegas are $55 for a sip of alcohol). He asked where we were going and I told him ” Don’t worry, just going to the bathroom”. He automatically assumed that “the bathroom” was code word for something sketchy. He automatically was FURIOUS. Now if you know my ex, you know how his temper was. I continually reassured him that I were going to “the bathroom” with a new friend. We knew each other pretty well at this point and I assumed he knew that I was likely going to get a drink. Now when I look back I realize that he probably wasn’t comfortable with it being a new person that I was going with. He, like most emotional and physical abusers, are controlling that way. He followed us out of the pool area. I should say stormed out, not followed. Because he STORMED out after me. He grabbed my arm and began yelling in front of everyone. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I did know that he was going to ruin the rest of my day. He said that I was terrible and up to no good and that he wanted nothing to do with me for the rest of the weekend. When your faced with this situation, you just think “hey, he’s probably just really drunk”. So he yelled and yelled at me in front of all of our friends and their dates. He stormed up to the room and I of course I followed right up after.What followed afterwords was a full 40 or so minutes of yelling. All I can remember from the fight was how much I apologized. All I can remember was saying I was being careless and it was my fault I didn’t clarify anything to him. The girl I was talking to was watching the whole fight downstairs. I remember her saying that no guy should treat me that way. That he was an asshole and seemed a bit crazy. But I said it’s ok, it’s just how he is. He loves me a lot, we’ve just been together a long time and we fight. That it was my fault because I was the one who didn’t clarify where I was going. I look back now and realize that this is how he got me to stay. He would yell at me for hours and I would apologize and crawl right back into his arms. So i apologized and said how stupid I was, yet again and the fight for the day was over.

Thinking back on this day, I realize how manipulative he was. That’s how they rope you in and get you to stay. They find someone who is compassionate and caring. He chose me because I am everything he wasn’t. He was harsh, violent and brutal. I made up for all of the qualities he lacked. I made him feel like he was a better person because he was with someone that was sincere and understanding. I made him feel like a better person because he knew he was with someone he could manipulate. He knew that I would tolerate his abuse and I would be compassionate enough to try and fix him. I fell in love with a lie. I fell in love with someone who knew I would blame myself for his insane and abusive behavior.

The next, and final night was when it really happened. Now if you were there, you probably remember how he was acting that night. He was drugged out and drunk as ever. Nothing new. It got pretty late in the night and we decided to go explore the suite. He ended up leaving me asleep on the bed upstairs in one of the rooms (this may also be the time to tell everyone that I may actually have narcolepsy and that’s why I fall asleep in about 2 seconds). We were leaving in the morning super early and since I passed out without warning we had no alarms set. I knew that we would probably get left behind if we didn’t get up and moving. I woke up in a frantic that morning, not knowing what time it was and scared that the bus was going to leave us in Vegas. It was about 7:30 and I think we were leaving around 8/8:30 so of course, I panicked. I turned to him and tried to wake him up but he wasn’t budging. I continued to try and tap him to wake him up. I was quietly whispering his name when he flipped around in about a second.

Next thing I know I was pinned to the bed and getting pounded on the back of my head. Full fist and everything. I don’t even remember how I ended up there. I just remember being hit. I tried to stand up to run away, but he came after me. I was shoved to the floor with full force. I can’t even remember the details because it was such a blur. I don’t even remember if he said anything at all. I do remember the way he was looking at me. His eyes were wide open and blood shot but he didn’t seem to be in there. It was like in Zootopia when the animals get shot with the poisonous berries and turn rabid. He was the otter. He seemed gentle and kind, but in that moment he was crazed and confused. I continued to yell stop. Stop. Stop. But he kept going. Every time I stood up I was pushed back down onto the ground. At one point I stood up and my knees buckled under me and the world went black for a second. I’m still not sure if I fainted or if I was in shock.

After finally crawling away, with tears streaming down my face, he ran downstairs. I of course, stormed after him.

We returned back to our room in silence, me quietly wiping my tears away slowly following behind him. My head was beginning to throb and my back felt like I had been hit with a soccer ball in the middle of winter. When we got back to the room however, he was calm. It was like the entire thing had never happened. We silently packed up and went downstairs. The entire time I was holding back the waterworks.

Once we were on the bus I finally mentioned the situation. He seemed confused. Like he wasn’t the one who just beat me to the ground. “I did what”? He said. I still don’t know if that was his trick to get me to stay, or he really wasn’t himself when he was having an episode. He must have been a pretty good actor because he convinced me that he wasn’t fully aware of what he was doing. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m so stupid” “I didn’t know what I was doing”.

I forgave him. Of course. He had a rough childhood, it must have been that, is what I told myself. He must have not been aware of what he was doing. He didn’t mean to do it. He told me it wasn’t abuse. It wasn’t an abusive relationship. He didn’t mean to do it, so in turn, it wasn’t abuse.

But that’s the thing. He always meant to do it. He knew exactly what he was doing. And who he was doing to. He knew I was the one who felt bad for him. 

And so that’s what began my mission to try and save the man that wasn’t savable. To try and save the man who would eventually almost ruin my life.

Where it all Begins: Why I Chose to Write About this Dark Journey

You always hear about domestic violence stories. You hear about girls who stay in abusive relationships and think you’ll never be the girl that stays. You gossip with your friends about how stupid that girl is for staying with that douchebag. You think you’d never let anyone treat you that way. You all say “I would leave the second he laid a hand on me”. You never ever think that that girl is going to be you. You never ever think that that girl IS you.

For me personally, I never realized that the abuse was abuse. You trust the person you’re in love with. I trusted him with my whole entire heart. After the first time he hit me. After the second time he hit me. After the third time he hit me. To be honest I still trusted him a bit after he fracture my face in two places. But that’s what they do. They gain your trust. They build up your trust so much that when they eventually end up shattering it, you still trust them. When they end up shattering it, you still trust them wholeheartedly. That’s their biggest talent. That’s how they get you to stay. That’s how he got me to stay almost a whole year after he hit me for the first time. The funny thing is, I always thought it was my fault. I still to this day think it’s my fault. I know in no way is it my fault. But it starts getting hard to convince your self that it isn’t.

So I guess that’s why I’m here now. No matter how hard I try it still feels like I was the one who did something wrong. I guess I feel like if I write about it enough I won’t still feel the same way. Maybe if I write enough eventually I’ll get to a point where I don’t think it’s my fault. Maybe if I write enough eventually one day the scar over my eye won’t remind me of him every time I look in the mirror. And maybe if I write enough eventually I will look back and know I learned something from this bump in the road instead of blocking all of the memories out of my head.

So you can read all of this and follow along with my story or you can end here. But this is my story. It’s the story of how I overcome something I never thought I would have to overcome. It’s breaking the silence for all of the women out there who have had to go through the same thing but were never brave enough to talk about it. So here i am breaking the silence and letting you into my story. It is violent and sad and confusing but it’s my story and I’m finally ready to tell it.

xoxo

Syd