The Truth About Abuse: A Personal Story

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

  • Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most commonly abused by their significant other.
  • One in three women have been victims of physical abuse from their partner throughout their lifetime.
  • 48.4 percent of women have experienced some sort of psychological abuse or psychologically aggressive behavior from their partner.

That being said, abuse doesn’t always look like black eyes and broken arms; sometimes, it looks like love. I suffered from being in a mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive relationship for two years and have an understanding of how it feels to have a lack of control over your own life. I often relate my relationship with my abuser to a drug addiction. I knew that succumbing to him was unhealthy and detrimental to my relationship with myself, my friends, and my family. However, I always caved by finding ways to justify his actions and would wickedly mask his abusive behavior by labeling it as a sign of his devout love. Every single time I would relapse, I lost more and more of my individuality as my self-respect and self-worth seemed to be disintegrating before my own eyes.

Looking back on my experience, the most crucial advice I could provide to anyone who has been in a toxic relationship, is to forgive yourself. I had always strongly held a “Do no harm, take no sh*t” attitude. Once I finally broke free from the seemingly endless cycle of our love, I was depleted with shame. I questioned if that powerful woman that I previously was, was simply a façade because she would have never let someone take advantage of her like this. She would have proudly walked away from the situation without looking back as soon as she noticed its first signs. But, you see, there were no warning signs. And when there were, I choked them down before I could even briefly imagine the pain I’d be faced with if I confronted them.

With that, learn to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not listening to your best friend or your mother when they told you to leave your SO six months ago. Forgive yourself for making your SO’s unfaithful habits your little secret to spare yourself the embarrassment. Forgive yourself for believing your SO when he/she said they would never put their hands on you again. Forgive yourself for momentarily losing sight of your values. That girl is still there inside of you; but you owe it to yourself to trust that she is capable of saving you.

When I was first liberated from my abusive relationship, it not only felt like an open wound, but like a missing limb. I would continuously go to grab something forgetting that there was nothing there. Because of the dynamics of domestic violence, it is normal to feel as though every aspect of your life is dependent on your partner. That is exactly how they maintain dominance and security for so long. They are a viral infection that engulfs every aspect of your being until you are no longer functioning on your own. But, wounds heal, and you'll learn to adapt to only using one arm, and you'll take care of yourself. I am by no means saying that the process of recovering is easy or simple. But, it is true that life will continue without them. You will learn to recover and continue to grow every single day. Your abuser contributes to who you are, but they do not define you. Let this contribution to your life be a catalyst. You are so much more.

As for your abusive partner, wherever they may be in life, send them love and light. Each time a thought surfaces in my mind, whether it be good or bad, my natural instinct used to be bitter, resentful, and pulsating with pain. However, that is hurting no one but me at this point. The most beneficial thing you can do is acknowledge the thought, hope that they too are finding fulfillment in their life just as you are, and send the thought away because your SO no longer controls you.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing signs of an abusive relationship, please seek help as soon as possible. There are plenty of support groups and hotlines for those being abused and their loved ones.

Always remember

  • You will find love again and it will not hurt.
  • You are whole and complete on your own.
  • You are not alone.