Invisible Wounds: The Story of a Domestic Violence Survivor

My ex boyfriend Dan* and I met Fall semester of my sophomore year. He was cute, shy, smart, friendly, and very easy to talk to. We had so much in common and got along together really well. I knew we liked each other but I was hesitant to go out with him because he was Black and I knew my parents would never approve of interracial dating. But in the following semester we started going out. Dan was my first boyfriend and I was so excited, nervous, and in love. We were constantly texting each other, had late night phone calls, and saw each other almost every day. He told me I was his ideal girlfriend, that I was perfect for him, and that no one else understood him like I did.
In my junior year of college I started to ignore my friends and club duties. I did everything with Dan. He was my best friend and my lover. He was the person I trusted and loved the most. Then he started to become possessive, jealous, and paranoid. He told his friends not to hug me. He constantly accused me of talking to or checking out other guys. I couldn’t even look in the general direction of a guy jogging down the road or watch a movie with a shirtless guy without Dan accusing me of checking him out.

Before summer started Dan asked me to move in with him so we could be together during the summer. He said he would be so sad and lonely without me and that he would miss me terribly. He also said he could not do a long distance relationship and that we would break up. I was reluctant to move in with him because he had gotten really possessive and jealous. But he had never hit me before and I believed that he would never hurt me. I decided to move in with him to see where our relationship would go. I lied to my parents about where I was going to be for the summer. I didn’t tell my siblings or friends where I was going to stay. No one knew where I was.

When summer started we moved in together to a little studio apartment in Raleigh. Things started out just fine. We were just happy to finally have some privacy. But then things started to turn sour. It started as verbal abuse. He would call me names like fat, stupid, ugly, bitch, and idiot. At some point I started to believe him -- I didn’t think I was beautiful or smart anymore. My self-esteem dropped and I sunk into a deep depression. I even had suicidal thoughts. Then the verbal abuse turned physical. Dan would grab me really hard or pin/hold me down. I had bruises on my arms from him grabbing me too hard. I started to question myself if I was in an abusive relationship but I did not think I was because he had never hit me. These things did not set off a red flag in my head until it happened.