Life After Abuse Column-Relationships

Disclaimer- I’m writing this article anonymously because I’m scared. I think that the narrative of surviving abuse ends with a person being fearless. But, that's not the case a lot of the time. This awful person who is no longer in my life still has the ability to contact me. So in order to keep peace of mind, I'm allowing myself to do what is best for me even if it's perceived as "cowardly" to do so. But, speaking up and writing this column allows me to remember that this person doesn't have power over me. I had the strength to leave this person and I have the strength to stick up to them if need be. Hopefully, my story shows that recovery, although slow, is possible.

It seems silly but I didn't think my relationship was abusive. I wasn't dating this person. They didn't torture me all of the time. In fact, our relationship was really good until it suddenly wasn't. But, I like a lot of people didn't recognize that I was in an abusive relationship until the relationship ended. In other columns, I'll talk about the signs of abuse that I tried to ignore or didn't understand was abuse. But here are a few of the abusive actions that affected my relationships with other people. 

  • Isolation from people outside of the abuser's inner circle
  • An abuser physically harming another person
  • Belittling

Here are a few things that this person did that aren't abusive on their own but are abusive in combination. 

  • This person would often tell me that they didn’t like my relationships with other people. Most of the time their personality was the problem. If I decided to stick it out it would cause an argument. It slowly taught me that keeping friendships wasn't worth the argument. 
  • Enticing my frustrations with people. They loved when I got upset at something because it made them look good and everyone else in my life look bad. They'd convince me to leave friendships arguing that I was a pushover if I didn't.
  • Would enable me to interact with S/os outside of my sexual comfort zone. I was a prude if I didn't. 
  • I would be limited in the amount of time I spent with people. I was told that it was rude having conversations with other people if they were present. Sometimes to avoid an argument I would time interactions with people. Once, I was applauded for only saying hi to someone. 
  • They wouldn't listen to me when their inner circle did something wrong to me. I'd be treated like a possession around their friends and kicked out of conversations in the middle of them. 

The first thing I realized about my relationship was that I was left with little to no friends after leaving. At the start of our relationship, I was an extroverted social butterfly. I had tons of friends. But, I let them go because I was afraid of getting into an argument or I was convinced to. This left me with a few good friends, a few bad friends, and no romantic relationships. I felt like I couldn't trust myself to fix my mistakes because I made a mistake letting this person manipulate me so much. 

I decided that in an act of rebellion I would make friends quickly and jump into a romantic relationship. Needless to say, this was an awful Idea because I was searching for relationships for all of the wrong reasons. I found people who didn't match my values or fit my life. I found myself, once again, around people that I didn't like. I felt like an awful judge of character. But, this was far from the truth. A lot of my friends that I had lost took time in finding and maintaining their friendship. I wasn't gonna find connections like that in a weekend. 

I decided that I had to try to salvage the friendships that I had lost. For some people, it was something simple as texting a "hello" and an apology for losing contact. For others, it's an in-depth conversation about my abuse and an apology for taking their friendship for granted. And in some unfortunate cases, it's accepting the fact that my relationship with them is over. I hurt someone and although it wasn't my intention it's something that I have to live with. It's unfortunate but it's part of the "side effects" of being in an abusive relationship. 

My Abuse didn't just hurt me. It hurt other people too. But all you can do is make amends when you can, and forgive yourself when you can't. It's empowering to take all the time I want to make and maintain healthy relationships. It's a lot more than I was allowed to do a year ago.