One in five people in an abusive and violent relationship denies it.
“I never thought I was in a violent relationship,” a victim of an abusive relationship said. “Until I woke up one morning and realized I didn’t have any other friends to talk to, besides him.”
A junior who attends Cabrini College, whose identity the Loquitur is withholding for safety purposes, was a part of a violent relationship for well over two years. Mary (not her real name) understood she was in an unhealthy relationship when she realized she only spent time with her boyfriend and his friends.
“There came a point where I didn’t have any other friends to hang out with and for some time I thought that was normal,” Mary said. “I don’t remember one friend of mine that he liked.”
A close friend of Mary from her hometown in New Jersey, Dana Williams (whose name is also changed), saw the abuse grow from subtle to full throttle.
“Mary was always a very strong person,” Williams said. “But there came a point where I realized her boyfriend was manipulating her into believing he was the only one really there for her. Any fight she got into with any of her friends he would really urge that fight on.”
Once Mary’s boyfriend had her all to himself, the real cruelty began.
“We would get into these awfully violent fights,” Mary recalled. “There was always a lot of name calling, getting in each others’ faces and things were always thrown at me.”
The fights always happened at the boyfriend’s house, so Mary’s parents were never even aware. After a dramatic fight, Mary would leave and after just a couple of hours, her abuser would call crying to her to “come back, come back.”
“I remember a fight where she was actually pushed and got a concussion,” Williams said. “I just remember trying to understand why she just wouldn’t leave.”
Following a violent fight would always be a passionate forgiveness.
“But somehow, I always ended up saying ‘I’m sorry,’” Mary said.
That was another trigger point for Mary. The fact that it was always her fault, that she somehow made him angry to the point of abuse did not add up to her anymore.
As soon as Mary said she was sorry, everything seemed okay again.
“I just got used to saying it after every fight,” Mary said.
“But enough was enough.”
“I knew the relationship I was in was unhealthy and the friends that I still had left told me that,” Mary said. “But I just could not get away.” Then the threats started.
Mary’s boyfriend made it seem that if she left it would hurt him more than it would hurt her.
“He threatened to hurt or even kill himself,” Mary said. “I just did not want anyone to hurt themselves or even hate me that much for leaving. Even after all the abuse, I still cared for him.”
“I know Mary felt obligated to stay with him because she felt guilty,” Williams said. “I think she thought things would get better. However, once she started to take her own advice she realized with enough effort she could get out.”
Mary is always very active in voicing her own opinion and telling people to stand up for themselves. “I felt like a hypocrite,” Mary said. “I could no longer tell people to stand up for themselves when I wasn’t. I think I finally became embarrassed.”
Although Mary felt there was no escaping, after losing many friends she finally realized she would rather be by herself than with him.
Today she is the happiest she has been in her whole life.
“I don’t have a boyfriend right now and I don’t want one for a very long time,” Mary said.
“She has grown so much in the past three years and she is definitely not the same person she used to be who was afraid and wrapped up in her relationship,” Williams said. “She has finally accepted herself and she is the most independent person I know.”
Mary’s Sings of Being in an Abusive Relationship
- When your partner urges on fights you have with friends.
- Not giving you any space.
- Threatening to hurt themselves if you leave.
- When your partner makes you feel weak or dumb.
- Mental and physical abuse.
- Making you think every fight was your fault.
Mary’s Advice for Escaping Domestic Violence
- Feeling like you cannot get out is normal.
- It takes time to leave, not everyone gets out their first time.
- Don’t be discouraged.
- Seek help from a friend or counselor.
- Nobody can force you to leave, you have to want to get out.
-Break apart on your own time and at your own pace. No one understands
your relationship more than you.