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Because this blog features stories of interpersonal and sexual violence, we offer this *content warning* as a way of caution. We also ask that you do not reproduce any of the content below, as the authors of these personal stories are anonymous, and cannot give consent for their stories to appear anywhere other than this blog or at a Project Dinah-led SpeakOut event.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I post my story every semester. There is just something therapeutic about it being told, even if I’m not the one telling it. 
It didn’t start out as abuse. We held hands, we kissed, we cuddled, we went on dates. We were normal.
We were in 8th grade when we started dating, 11th the first time he hit me, and First-years when the bruises became too hard to hide.
I thought he was protecting me. He didn’t want me staying out late, he didn’t want me wearing revealing clothes, and he didn’t want me alone with guys. Then one day he found out that I broke the rules, and he broke up with me. Just like that. I cried, I begged, I pleaded for him to forgive me, and I promised I would obey him from then on.
When we got back together more rules began to be made. I had to respond to all of his texts, answer all of his calls, and check in frequently. I didn’t, there were consequences. It started off as name calling and threats to leave. I became so afraid of making the wrong decisions I got into the habit of asking before I did anything—he liked that.
I remember the first time he hit me vividly. We were arguing over whether I could go to GSE. After what seemed like hours, I finally just said I was going no matter what he thought. The second I was on the floor with my face red from his hand print. He apologized and cried for what seemed like hours.
But when I got back from GSE it continued. He would go through my phone daily, he would hit me when I disobeyed him, and he chose what college I would attend.
After entering college I was raped at a party—a party that my boyfriend had told me not to go to. I told him and he said it was my fault. The next time he saw me he forced me to have sex with him, and said that it was my punishment for being such a whore. Then he broke up with me. I cried, I begged, I pleaded, and a few weeks later he took me back. But he wasn’t the same. The smallest things set him off and he began to hit me frequently.
People always ask me “if it was that bad, why didn’t you just leave?” And it’s simple 
In between these violent spells we were a normal couple. We went on dates and he bought me flowers. I never had to hold open my own door and sometimes he would randomly make my favorite foods for me. He would say things like “you’re everything to me” and “I would die without you,” and I said them back. Every hour of every day was about him and what he wanted me to do and what he thought about what I was doing and wearing and going, and I thought that was how it was supposed to be. 
Then one day, I got caught. I remember the first time my roommate questioned a bruise on my arm. I remember feeling nothing but shame and I made something up like “oh he was drunk, it’s no big deal.” I remember her shock, and I remember thinking that she just didn’t understand. She became my best friend. She made it harder for me to make excuses for him, and when things got good she reminded me of how bad they could get. Then one day he broke up with me again—I was heart-broken, but this time I had my roommate. She held me, she comforted me, and she even stood up to him for me.
Over time I started to realize that the guy who kissed me under the stars and the guy that punched me in the face were the same person. I realized that he didn’t change, that he had always been the same; and, once I saw that he did not change into this monster, I began to understand that he would not stop being this monster. That summer he begged for me back, and for a few weeks we dated. Everything was perfect until I broke a rule, and he hit me. I ended things with him, I moved away, and I began to heal.
It’s been over a year since I left him, and I still jump when I’m touched and have nightmares and get confused when my boyfriend doesn’t control me, but I’m improving. I’d like to say that it was that last hit that gave me the strength to leave him, but it wasn’t: it was my roommate—the girl who spent months convincing me that I was worth more, told me what a healthy relationship was like, supported me after the break up, and continues to be by my side today. 

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