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**Editor’s Note: Names have been changed in this article.**
My college experience has been a roller coaster to say the least. I’ve had some great opportunities throughout my four years, including studying abroad in Ireland and interning at The Herald. Yes, my senior year is currently killing me academically but that’s something I can handle. My freshman year, however, was by far the hardest year for me emotionally and it was a time that I honestly didn’t think I could handle.
I came into college, like most freshmen, not knowing what to expect. I was in search of an independent lifestyle while trying to understand my true identity. I absolutely was not looking for a boyfriend, but I managed to meet a sweet, smart guy in my dorm building that I started a great friendship with. Since I don’t want to say his name, let’s call him Jack.
After about a month into college, Jack let me know clearly that he wanted to date, but I was nowhere near ready for a relationship. I was still getting into my new college schedule and needed my own independence. At that time in my life, like most 18-year-olds, I didn’t know how to have a relationship and I wanted to focus on my identity.
After he asked me out a few times, I finally agreed and we began dating exclusively. To my surprise, I started to really like Jack. He turned out to be an amazing boyfriend and we had a lot of fun together. We started dating right before Christmas break and we both planned to go home for break where we would be 5 hours apart.
Needless to say, our relationship did not last through break but we began talking again once we returned for the spring semester. That short break created some turmoil in our relationship and I started to see manipulative instincts in Jack. He would get jealous if I had girl nights with my girlfriends and would find ways to show up at our girl nights. He acted strange when I talked to other guys and I was slowly losing the independence I wanted as a college freshman.
This behavior was a bit of a red flag to me, but it was discreet enough to not make me think I needed to end the relationship for good.
One Friday night I was Jack’s date to a function. I was nervous to attend it because his friends were still upset with me. According to them, I was to blame for the break we took in our relationship… But I went to the function anyways because I wanted to support Jack.
After a few drinks in, one of his friends approached me and brought up our relationship. He blamed me for Jack being upset and ruining our relationship. [Whatever]. I told Jack I was leaving and I had someone drive me back to my dorm.
About 15 minutes later as I was walking up to my room, I looked down at my phone and saw Jack was calling me. I answered and he said, “meet me downstairs right now or I will never talk to you again.” And me being the young gullible girl I was, I freaked out because I thought he was serious. Looking back now, I see it was just one of his manipulative tactics.
When I went downstairs, let me remind you it was freezing and I was in a dress and heels, Jack went on this spiel about how in love he was with me, etc. He then asked me to go back to the function with him because he left his book-bag. I responded saying it was cold, that I wanted to go upstairs to bed and that I would see him tomorrow.
Jack’s exact words were, “no you aren’t, you’re coming with me.” I objected and began to walk back to the dorm. He then proceeded to pick me up and carry me with him. When I told him to put me down, he completely dropped me on the concrete. He became more violent, took my cell phone, and I felt helpless. A girl walked by me when this was happeneing and I asked her to help me and she told me that she couldn’t do anything.
Without getting into too much detail, I’ll just say that I woke up the next morning with bruises on my arms and legs, and a headache from being thrown on the ground.
I didn’t speak about this to him or anyone until about two weeks later. I spoke with staff on campus to get help, including my R.A., the Dean of Students, and the university police.
Honestly, I don’t know where I would be right now if I hadn’t met weekly with a counselor in the Victim’s Assistance office on campus. She was amazing.
Fast forward to now, I can say I have fully recovered and forgiven Jack for the way he treated me. I’m currently in a relationship and it’s my first one since Jack and I ended. My new boyfriend shows me every single day how a significant other should be treated. Quite often after experiencing physical and/or emotional abuse, we forget the way we should be treated. We settle or we think it’s okay to be treated that way.
It’s International Women’s Day and abuse is one aspect of all the discriminatory experiences women can face. I’m writing as a survivor of physical and emotional abuse and I’m here to tell you that you deserve to be loved and treated equally. If you see someone in need of help, help them because you could make a huge impact in his or her life. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you see someone like this. Victim blaming is a real thing. I did not want to come back to school the following semester. I was not only blamed for the incident by his friends but the campus police asked me why I did not come sooner because since I no longer had bruises on me, they could not just take my word for it. I was quiet about this for weeks because it was frightening to let someone else know.
Ladies, you deserve to be supported in what you stand for and accepted for who you are. Don’t settle for less because you don’t believe you are good enough for the best. You ARE good enough for the best.
Happy International Women’s Day!