Photo by Willow David
Did you know that nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year? Well, neither did I. That probably explains why when I was fourteen years old, I fell in love (or at least what I thought was love) with a boy that would have derailed my life if I let him.
This is exactly why I’m writing to you. I want to tell you my story, but don’t worry, it has a happy ending.
So, this is my story. . .
I was barely fourteen when I met G. We were in the same French class and through both of us accidentally sitting on the same chair, it began: our two and a half year relationship. We quickly became the couple that the whole school adored. We were talked about and everyone wanted to know everything about us and our relationship. It was nice to be happy and in love, and have the spotlight on us.
I was soon whisked away by teenage love, taking things one day at a time, but secretly hoping it would last forever. I fell in love with him, giving him everything I had and more without so much as a second thought. For a long time, I thought he and I would be the one in a million couple. The one that would make it past high school, survive university, get married, have kids and live happily ever after.
He said the sweetest things to me, he was there for me day and night, and he spoiled me with homemade gifts and beautiful jewellery. I felt like I was on top of the world when I was with him. He made me feel like nobody else could. On top of all that, he seemed like the greatest guy in the world. I became so absorbed in the idea of forever and soul mates and happily ever after that I missed the warning signs. I missed the red flags.
It wasn’t until six months in that the first abusive episode occurred. I know now that this was the point where I should have left. But I didn’t. Instead, I stayed and allowed things to get progressively worse over the next two years.
One night, while I was sleeping with my phone on silent, an old friend, K, who is gay and was living in British Columbia at the time, commented on a photo of me through Facebook. His comment was: “Looking good, R!” The next morning, I woke up to several missed calls, text messages, Facebook messages and aggressive comments to K on Facebook. The one text message that still flashes in my mind every now and then is, “Who the f*ck is K?” G had interrogated K regarding the comment and blatantly accused me of cheating on him. I messaged G, explaining how the comment was harmless, how his behavior was inappropriate, and I told him that if I had picked up my phone that night, I would have ended things right then and there. When things between us began to calm down, he apologized and promised this would never happen again. And I believed him.
As the months wore on, his behavior gradually got worse. At first, it was him looking through my phone to see who I had been texting. Then, he demanded to know the password to my Facebook account to monitor what I was up to and to see who I spoke to. Finally, whenever I would change my profile picture, he would force me to crop it in such a way that it only showed my face, and no other part of my body. From there, it progressed to him asking to see whatever I planned to wear on dress down days at school, just to make sure it wasn’t too short or revealing.
A few months later, another inappropriate incident occurred. One of my best friends, L, sent out one of those mass chain text messages that said, “I LOVE YOU! You’re my best friend. Forward this to 10 other people that you love so they know how special they are to you!” I sent this to my boyfriend, my friend L, and a bunch of other girlfriends. When G replied to my text, he demanded to know everyone else who sent me the message. Once he found out that I received one from L, he went ballistic. He forced me to give him L’s cell number and when he got it, he yelled and interrogated L for sending that text.
A similar situation happened another few months later when I became close with another guy friend. It seemed that every relationship I had with guys only caused more problems between G and I even though he was constantly texting several girls, even while we were hanging out.
Unfortunately, these incidents were trivial in comparison of what was to come. G’s best friend was N, and he and I never liked each other. There was this unknown mutual hatred between us until grade eleven. We had started to get to know each other and found out that we really weren’t all that bad. When school started, we were seated together in biology and every day, we talked more and more. We were just becoming friends after almost two years of barely exchanging any words. I thought that G would be genuinely happy that his best friend and girlfriend were finally getting along. Instead, he felt threatened and told us to stop talking to each other. G also accused both of us of cheating and was suspicious that I was going to leave G for N.
Within the following two months, our frequent arguments turned into constant screaming matches every day. In mid-January, G broke up with me, and I tried as hard as I could to get back together with him. After a couple weeks of never ending tears, I came to the realization that it was time to move on with my life and get over him.
I enjoyed being single, reconnected with my friends, focused on my school work and spent quality time with my family.
Two months later, I experienced the true meaning of life being too short and so G and I began talking again. We soon realized that we wasted too much time fighting over stupid things and decided to get back together. Except our relationship was even worse the second time around.
For starters, I was beginning to think about where I wanted to attend university. I had always wanted to move away and G wanted to stay at home and attend college locally. At first, I stuck to my guns and still wanted to move out of the city. But as more time elapsed, and our fighting increased, I found myself gradually adjusting the schools I wanted to attend. Each time I thought about it, I crossed off any schools that were farther than an hour away. I couldn’t stand the thought of being far away from him. Then, I began to seriously consider living at home and commuting, repeatedly telling myself that I could be happy without moving away.
G was also more jealous and possessive than before. We once went to dinner and rather than complimenting me on my new dress, he said, “Isn’t that a little short?”
One day at school, he took my phone for the duration of lunch and decided to return it to me during fourth period. Then, he opened up all of my recent calls, and said, “I only have three questions. Who are these numbers and why are you calling them?” He was referring to three numbers in my phone that weren’t in my contact list. The explanation was simple: telemarketers and my horse barn. When I told him that, his mind was put at ease.
In June, my school hosted an athletic banquet. With G being on the football team, he was invited and had the opportunity to bring a date. This was definitely an event that you brought your girlfriend or boyfriend to. I was flabbergasted and hurt when he didn’t invite me. His excuse? “It’s a boy’s night, babe.” So he went to the athletic banquet alone.
The next morning at school, he was acting very strange and snippier than usual. Then, out of the blue, he said, “One more fight, and we’re done.” Shocked, I thought, cried and vented over that ultimatum for the duration of first and second period. When I still hadn’t received a text or even an ounce of guilt by the end of second period, I decided that I was done.
So when class came to a close, outside of my portable, I said, “One more fight and we’re done? No, we’re done now.”
That was it. We were over.
I suppose something inside of me snapped that day, and I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore. As I began to adjust to life without G, I realized how miserable I truly was with him. Today, I recognize that if I stayed with him any longer, he would soon have abused me physically. I was lucky to have gotten out when I did. Unfortunately, a lot of girls are not as lucky.
Regardless, when I came to university, I wasn’t really open to being in a relationship. I was still getting used to being single and enjoying all of its perks. Part of the reason why I wasn’t interested in being tied down again was because I was scared.
What if I got into an abusive relationship again? What if it was worse this time? What if I was too stupid to recognize the signs or red flags? What would happen to me then?
I was interested in fooling around with boys and flirting, but nothing serious. Until I met J, someone here at Queen’s.
At first, J and I were casual, nothing too serious. It was on my terms and I was perfectly content keeping him at arm’s length. That was all I was ready for at the time, and I didn’t see that perspective changing anytime soon. But as we continued to spend time together, I found my feelings beginning to change despite my efforts to control them.
One night, though, I remember as the night that I fell for him.
My roommate and I were on our way to one of our club meetings and I saw J. We stopped and talked, asking each other about our days. Then, just as I was leaving, he placed his finger under my chin, tilted my head up and kissed me swiftly on the lips.
After that, I felt completely different about him—in the best way possible. That moment changed me and my entire outlook on whatever relationship we had. To me, the gesture was the sweetest thing he could have done and it was very boyfriend-y, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted to be. Except this one gesture didn’t bother me. I was okay with it.
The next day, without even realizing it, our behavior towards each other completely changed. We were acting as if we were dating, and I found myself no longer caring if we were acting as a couple, even though we weren’t. I focused on happy I felt when I was with him, and let everything else fall into place. It was only when I did this that I was able to let my guard down and hear how he truly felt about me. The truth was he liked me, he cared about me, and he wanted to be with me.
Despite my constant fears of falling into another abusive relationship, I allowed myself to feel something for him. And when I finally did, I realized how wonderful it was to care about him. It was undeniable; our relationship was no longer casual or at arm’s length. I had let him in and I was more than okay with it.
We’ve been dating for two months now, and while I still put the brakes on every now and then, I know that what I feel for him is beyond real and we are incredibly happy. I’m not sure how long we’re going to last, or where our relationship is heading in the future. I’m not sure if it’ll last for a little while, or forever. All I know for sure is that right now, I care about him, I want to be with him, and he acts like a perfect gentleman. And every day that I am with him, I am thankful that I escaped from my abusive relationship and found someone who deserved me.