I met him at the start of my freshman year of high school when I was only 14 years old. I thought he was cute and quickly developed a minor crush on him, but that was all. I wasn’t expecting to get a relationship out of it because I was still trying to get over my ex that I was with throughout all of middle school. Things changed fast, though.
Three weeks after school started, Matt* asked me to homecoming and to be his girlfriend. I said yes.
Everything was great at first. I was happy and enjoying getting to know someone new. I didn’t know if the relationship would even last long, but I was excited for it anyway.
About a month and a half into the relationship, things got chaotic. Matt didn’t like any of my friends because he thought they were bad influences, so he told me to stop talking to them or else he would leave me. And that’s when I made the biggest mistake of my life. That’s when it all began. I was scared of him breaking up with me, so I did what he told me to.
I didn’t tell my friends anything, I just started ignoring them. I was a coward. I couldn’t even tell them the truth. These people were my closest friends – people I had known since I was eight years old – and I didn’t even give them an explanation. After a while, they started realizing what I was doing so they slowly started letting me go, too.
And that’s when I lost all of my friends. For the next four and a half years, my life revolved around Matt and only him because he did not allow me to have or make new friends. He would easily get jealous if I even attempted to speak to old friends and would ignore me for days if I told him I did.
Things were so bad at one point that I had to memorize my friends’ numbers so I wouldn’t save them onto my phone. I felt bad lying to him, but these people were my friends and I didn’t want to let them go.
After a year of dating, Matt broke up with me during winter break – on Christmas Eve. He did it over Facebook Messenger while he was in Mexico. To make things worse, I didn’t even know he had left for Mexico until after he had gotten there and broken up with me.
His reason was that I was getting in the way of his school work, but I knew that was a lie. After the break, I found out that he had broken up with me because he wanted to try and get with another girl.
Days after he broke up with me, Matt began lashing out at me for no reason. He started calling me a slut/hoe and saying that I was going to end up pregnant before I graduated high school. To this day, I do not know why he felt the need to be mean to me. After all, he was the one who had broken up with me. He had absolutely no reason to try and get back at me, but he did so anyway.
Three weeks later, we got back together. At the time, I thought I wanted to be with him again (even after all the things he had told me), but after a while I realized I was just afraid of being alone. I had settled with the relationship, so knowing that I would eventually have to start over with someone new freaked me out. Even though I knew I shouldn’t have taken him back, I did so anyway because I thought our relationship could be fixed. I was wrong.
I ended up staying with him an extra FOUR years. Four years of constant emotional and verbal abuse, and no one knew. Not one single person.
Everyone that knew Matt thought he was a nice guy because he was super shy, quiet, and extremely focused on school. They were all wrong. He was manipulative, controlling, abusive, and many other things. We fought about 2-5 times a week, especially over minor things that shouldn’t have even been fought over. Neither of us was happy, but at least I wasn’t constantly lashing out at him.
While he made it a point to always argue with me, I made it a priority to try and make the relationship work. I didn’t do it for love, though. I had fallen out of love with him the first time we broke up, but I kept trying with him because I thought that was all I deserved. I thought I wasn’t allowed to be with someone who knew how to treat me right and love me the way everyone should be loved, so I settled and dealt with the constant emotional abuse because I thought it was normal.
Before I met him, I was a happy, outgoing, spunky, confident, independent, and social girl. Unfortunately, every single one of those personality traits went away as I was with him.
When he was angry (which was MOST of the time), he would call me an idiot, stupid, dumb, and useless. When he was even more mad, he would call me a hoe, slut, whore, b*tch, and c*nt. Sometimes, he would even go as far as to say I was ugly and needed to fix my appearance in order to look prettier. He would tell me “f*ck you, you stupid bitch” and “I f*cking hate you so much” more times than I can even bother to count. He made sure to verbally release his stress on me every time he was feeling overwhelmed. If there was a lot going on in his life, he would take out all of his anger on me. He would even go days (the longest was a week) without speaking to me simply because he was mad at minor things like if I were to have asked if everything was okay with him. Everything was always my fault to him, and because of that, I eventually started believing it too.
He never really apologized after his fits of rage. I don’t think he ever felt like he was in the wrong. I always apologized, though, and I know I shouldn’t have but I did because I grew to believe that all the arguments and all the name-calling was because something was wrong with me.
Four years of verbal abuse definitely took its toll on me. The verbal abuse eventually became emotional abuse and my personality completely changed. I became quiet, reserved, and anti-social – the complete opposite of who I was before him. The worst part about the constant abuse was that I eventually lost all of the self-esteem and confidence I once had. Because of him, I believed I wasn’t good enough. I believed that I wasn’t pretty or smart enough, and I believed I would never be able to be loved the way I should be loved. I believed anything and everything was my fault, and I believed everyone saw me the way he did. Because of that, I reached my breaking point.
I had reached a new low that I never thought I would have and I wanted to be free. My anxiety levels were at an all-time high to the point where I ended up in the hospital because of a severe anxiety attack. I couldn’t breathe well for over three months because I was constantly anxious and depressed. My throat would get extremely dry to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe or swallow and that would cause me to freak out even more. I had headaches every day and regularly felt fatigued. I had many doctor’s visits and even started seeing a therapist, and it all came down to one thing: I had to get out of that relationship.
I realized I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to be me again. I wanted to be happy and take care of myself and my own health. I was tired of constantly feeling like I couldn’t go on with the anxiety and depression every single day, so I built the strength and courage to finally let go.
After I broke up with him, I felt so free. I have never been happier and I can already see myself becoming the person I was before. All of my anxiety went away once I broke up with him. Every bad thing I felt was associated with him, and when I let go, I let go of all of the negativity as well. I started hanging out with old friends again and have noticed that I am not as afraid to get out of my comfort zone. I am slowly coming to peace with myself and regaining all of the happiness I had lost over the five years. So if I can do it, you can too.
Somewhere out there, someone is waiting to love you unconditionally. I am a true testament of that statement. For years I thought I didn’t deserve much when it came to love, so I settled. After I left Matt, I found real love with an old flame and I am now happier than ever before. Armando* treats me the way everyone should be treated in a relationship. He understands that I am somewhat “broken” because of my last relationship, and he is okay with it. All he wants is for me to be happy and he does anything he can in order to see it through. So if you’re worried you won’t be able to find love again, don’t worry, YOU WILL. I promise you, you will.
No one really teaches us how to look out for a verbally abusive relationship, so that’s why I stayed as long as I did. I thought it was normal, and again, I thought it was all I deserved. So, if you are in any kind of abusive relationship and feel like you do not have the strength to leave, I assure you that you do. You just have to find it – it’s deep within your mind, heart, and soul. You are not alone. You CAN and you WILL get through this. For five years I thought I was alone, but somewhere near the end I realized I had people who loved me that would help me get through it. Stop defending him or her. They are not worth your pain. They are not worth sacrificing your life and happiness for. You deserve better. You can find better. You are a beautiful human being and you deserve to have everything you want and more. It’s not going to be easy, but I promise you, it will definitely be worth it.
*Names have been changed