My Abuse Will Never Define Me

My Abuse Will Never Define Me

Based on a true story about my experience with abuse.

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I never thought it would be me. I never would have imagined that this would happen to me.

I was sitting in the police department with my roommate, shaking. I was filling out a form. It was late at night, probably 10 pm. Late October, right before Halloween. It was that time of year where it was finally starting to get cold out.

I felt weak and strange. The fluorescent lights in the police station were bothering me. Fluorescent lighting always bothered me, I never liked it. But now, it made things even more depressing than they already were.

I felt uncomfortable and awkward. I felt ashamed. My roommate most likely didn't want to be here. I didn't want to be here. I wanted to be at home. My new home. Or was it my old home? It was supposed to have been my home along- where I was supposed to be living all along.

I just wanted to get home, start unpacking everything and get some sleep... Oh wait, I still had homework to do. It was a Thursday night. I think had a test the next day.

I hadn't studied at all, I barely knew what we were learning about. The test was sort of the last thing on my mind. School hadn't been a huge part of my life for the past two months.

He had had almost complete control over my life. He had driven us everywhere in my car. Him driving my car had been a thing since we started dating. One day I said I was tired of driving and that he could drive, and that sort of just stuck from then on.

When we lived together, the keys were always with him. If I tried to get them, he would do everything to get me away from them. He'd run after me, push me into walls. He had put subs in my car that I didn't want. They were all for him.

I had known him since high school. He was known back then to be a rebel of sorts, he always got in trouble at school or with the law.

Then, he had sort of drifted off the face of the earth after high school. Then, he came back but sort of quietly. He lived somewhere else, with his mom and stepdad and worked at a job where his uncle was the owner.

A mutual friend of ours had set us up again, and we hit it off. We had a lot of things in common and we bonded over old times and the things that we had in common.

Quickly, we started dating. The signs started to appear, but I ignored them. The signs included him asking me to tell him that I was hanging out with a guy before I went and did it. He was jealous of me hanging out with the ONE guy friend I had. He was jealous of the relationship I had with my now deceased male best friend. He was dead. In the ground.

He would send multiple text messages in a row. And when I didn't respond because I was busy, he would send even more messages. He would freak out, and think I was ignoring him.

There were times he told me he hated me when I didn't do anything; times he told me we were done when I didn't do anything, and then take it back and say he was sorry.

He was paranoid. He used his mental illness as an excuse for his abusive behavior. He claimed he had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, manic depression paired with an anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and PTSD. I don't know if he had these or not, but, nonetheless, he was a very unstable person.

He was doing all this freaking out stuff even when I had a terribly debilitating UTI. I was shivering in my bed uncontrollably, sweating, had a fever of 104, intense pain all throughout my body especially my back, and was throwing up. This happened four times while we were dating, and I eventually realized that these UTIs were from the stress and abuse he caused me.

He was very dependent on me emotionally and physically. He had to be with me as much as he could.

After the summer, he wanted to be with me where I was going to college, so he found a job there and decided to move with me when I left for school. This should have been another red flag. His job was as a security guard at the library on campus. This should have been yet another red flag.

You would think his paranoia and aggression got better when he was able to be closer to me, but it didn't. It got worse. He saw what my life was like at college. I had a social life. Roommates. Friends. And for some reason, he didn't like that. He wanted me all to himself.

The first time he physically abused me was a week after I moved into my new apartment with my new roommates. I can't even remember what the fight was about, but he got mad at something little and tore my poster of the bedroom wall. He pushed me into a wall and bit down on my shoulder. His excuse was that he hit his knee on the desk and bit down on me in response to the pain by accident.

Soon, he convinced me to move my stuff to his apartment. It would be the dream, we could smoke pot anywhere we wanted, live as a couple. Plus, he needed some help to pay rent.

My car became his car. My car keys were his. My things were his. Sometimes I would be late or miss class because he wouldn't take me, or because he was busy abusing me. Sometimes I didn't want to go to class because of the bruises and marks he left.

He always got mad at something little. Like seeing a guy friend coming up and talking to me. He got mad, tried to chase me, and pushed me to the ground. Two girls from afar on campus saw this and yelled at him to not touch me. They called the cops on him. The cops came to campus. He swore up and down he did it by accident—I believed him, so the cops did too.

He would push me into walls, as I said before. He would use his fingernails to scratch my legs. He would hold my face and neck so hard that it hurt so much. That it would leave bruises. He would scream in my face at the top of his lungs, shaking. One time he took a pillow and stuffed it over my face. He took a piece of paper and balled it up and tried to stuff it down my throat—all because my brother wanted to go out to dinner with me. He would pull my hair and throw me down on furniture.

He would ask me who I was trying to look good for. He would tell me I could lose weight. He would tell me things like this to break me down because he was so insecure himself.

People ask, why didn't you get out sooner? Why didn't you ask for help?

They just don't know, do they?

If I picked my phone up for a second, he would ask what I was doing. He would search through my phone. Sometimes, he would take my phone and throw it somewhere, so I couldn't find it. He was much stronger than I was. His fury was worse if I was caught trying to run away. Every time I tried to call someone, he would answer for me and say it was a mistake and that his girlfriend was kidding around.

But finally, I was able to get out when he got mad about a guy that texted me. I had the chance to get my phone from him and text my roommates and tell them what was happening.

He was to follow me to my apartment with my things and not come on the property. If he did, my roommates would call the police.

He claimed he left something in my apartment and he refused to stay in his car and came on the property. The cops were called, but he was gone by the time they came.

And here I was, three hours later, sitting in the police department with the fluorescent lighting; filling out a form for a restraining order.

"There must be two offenses for a restraining order to be processed."

"1ST OFFENSE: PHYSICAL ABUSE."

My phone buzzed. He was texting me.

"2ND OFFENSE: HARASSMENT POST ABUSE."

I finally had the power in my hands. I had my freedom back. I may be broken, but I can pick the pieces back up. If I can come back from this, I can come back from anything.

Goodbye creepy house with the roaches crawling out from the walls and cupboards. No more secret life my friends and family didn't know about. No more trembling in front of the one who supposedly loved me.

He wasn't going to have control over me or my life. No one was ever going to do this to me again. I was determined.

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How The Past Affects The Present

The funny thing about trauma is that people don’t really like to admit that they’ve experienced it.
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I am continually amazed just how much my past affects my present. I am the person I am today because of the culmination of all my past experiences. Some of these experiences make me a better person, and some of them make me a bit more difficult or complicated.

It is scientifically proven that a person experiences trauma even before they are born. If a pregnant mother is in a car accident, she experiences trauma, increasing her heart rate and passing that trauma on to her baby. The funny thing about trauma is that people don’t really like to admit that they’ve experienced it. We’ve all seen Grey’s Anatomy, so most of us believe that something has to be horrific in order to be deemed traumatic. An icicle has to pierce you in the stomach or you have to be rescued from drowning just in the nick of time. Really, trauma is anything that shuts down the upper brain, putting your body into the fight or flight mode. I would argue that everyone has experienced trauma of some degree at least once in life.

However, despite having this knowledge, I am still amazed at just how little I think about my past experiences and just how rarely I admit that some could be classified as traumatic. If I’m being honest, I can admit that I don’t like to focus on painful pieces of my past too much. There are memories that still make me sick to my stomach when I think about them in depth, and there are songs that I don’t like to listen to because I get flashbacks to something upsetting. Recently, I’ve been very focused on the future, so focused that I haven’t realized just how subconsciously overcome I’ve been with my past.

Someone called me out this week, and it made me think about why I behave the way I do. I realized how much of a hold my past still has on me. This isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it is good to remember the past and learn from mistakes, unhealthy relationships, or painful confrontations. Other times, it can hold me back. Some mistakes keep me up at night even though no one else remembers that I made them. Sometimes unhealthy relationships keep me from trying to build new ones. Why try to meet new people when being on my own works well? And, honestly, confrontations always seem to be painful no matter how many times I force myself to confront.

I’m not sure my past will ever let go of me, and I know I wouldn’t really want that because it is the foundation of who I am now, metaphorically speaking, roots to a plant. It’s good to know, however, that there is a moment where I get to decide when to stay rooted and when to surpass my previous experiences and attempt to make new, better memories.

Cover Image Credit: pxhere

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The Real Reasons Women Don't Report Sexual Assault

Content warning: Sexual assault.

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These days in the United States, it is hard to get online and not see a headline of a woman coming forward telling her story of how she was sexually assaulted. You read the article and scroll through the comments underneath. Whether it happened last night, or 20 years ago, you'll probably see questions like these: "what was she wearing?" "was she drunk" "was she walking alone late at night?" If the rape didn't happen the night before, you'll probably see this question as well: "Well what took her so long to report?" Followed by an "I don't believe her, just another whore looking for attention." or.."He probably didn't call her back, so now she's looking for revenge." We can't forget my favorite, though "Was she drunk and just woke up regretting it?" Those are just a few reasons women don't report.

We see headlines about Brock Turner violently raping an unconscious girl, and getting sentenced only SIX MONTHS in jail. He only served three months. Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault by three women, was appointed as Supreme Court Justice. Donald Trump, the President of the United States, sexualizes his own daughter and says things like "grab her by the pussy." The leader of the free world speaks about women like that. Are you still questioning why we don't come forward?

If you find a woman willing to open up about her experience with sexual assault, her story will probably sound something like this. First comes the shock, what you just went through is unfathomable. You're not even completely sure if what you think just happened, happened. You blame yourself, you go through every second kicking yourself for not fighting back harder, not yelling, and maybe kicking yourself for not saying anything at all. Denial sets in shortly after. You tell yourself "no, that wasn't rape. That couldn't happen to me."

Eventually, the pain sets in and there are a lot of tears. It sucks, the dreams, the flashbacks, even certain sounds will take you back to that moment. Sometimes it causes panic attacks and severe anxiety. You dissociate, you don't want to socialize, you don't want to go out and have fun, because you're scared you'll break down. When the anger sets in, though, that's a different story. No man stands a chance, especially those who resemble him. You are repulsed by everything men do, and you think it will never go away. Honestly, you pity the next man you fall for, if that even happens because you don't know how you'll be intimate again, both emotionally and physically.

The last thing a sexual assault survivor wants is to see the person who did it again. So that plays a huge part in not reporting, along with the trauma that comes with getting a rape kit and being interrogated by the police, as if you've done something wrong. Once you've been completely violated, having a stranger poke and prod you to make sure you're not pregnant or don't have an STD feels like a violation all over again.

Don't ever ask a woman why she didn't report and do not ever ask why it took so long. You don't know what courage it took to accept it come forward in the first place.

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