The Cold Hard Truth About Abusive Relationships

The Cold Hard Truth About Abusive Relationships

"Don't Talk About it"
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I have two words for you: abusive relationships.

I bet you just got really uncomfortable. You probably wanted to close this article and find something cute and funny with some GIFs from New Girl or of hilarious scenes from Bridesmaids. While those are fine and dandy, and they make for a great morale booster when you’ve been cornered in the library for hours on end studying for that one midterm you just know you’re going to fail, there are some deeper issues in our society that need to be talked about. They just don’t get enough light shed on them. One of those is the very uncomfortable topic of abusive relationships, both emotional and physical. We are told to keep quiet about it because it is personal and people feel awkward talking about those types of situations. I’m here to say screw those societal standards. I’m about to get real with you.

One year ago today I was in a controlling, emotionally abusive, threatening relationship. It has been almost an entire year since I pulled the plug and finally got up enough courage to walk away from the dangerous situation I was in. However, even though I have been free for nearly an entire year, I have carried the damage of that detrimental relationship with me every single day. It gets better, sure, but it does not go away. One thing that we are not realizing is that while yes, these relationships are horrible while they are happening and need to be stopped, they leave an everlasting mark on the person involved.

When I was dating this person, I would walk with my head down and shoulders slumped, not making eye contact with anyone. I was always terrified that he would know if I was talking to anyone that was not him (even if he wasn’t there) and would get mad. Months and months after we broke up, I continued to live my life slumped over and hiding. One day, at the boutique I worked at, I was trying on a dress and I hated the way it looked on me. One of my coworkers said, “Stand up straight and stop hunching over like that. Nothing looks good when you’re trying to hide your body that way. That is a leftover impression that he left on you, and you have to let him go.” I realized that day, that even though I was no longer dating this person, I was still allowing him to control my life. As hard as I try to get away, I still find that control lingering over my head today.

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to write. While I do share a lot of my writing, some of the more personal stuff I keep in private journals. One time, he found some of my writing I had tucked away inside a dresser drawer. I asked him to please, please put it back. It was private, only for me to read. He refused and continued to read anyway. It felt like someone had gotten inside the most private parts of my mind and taken the things I had for just myself. I never wrote in my journal again for the rest of our relationship. Even today, when I write something private I have this deep fear that people are going to go through my work and read it. Sometimes I have the urge to hide my writing or even throw it away after it has been written.

When I was with this person, he would tear me down every single day. I remember picking him up for school every morning, and if he had not yelled at me within the first five minutes, I considered it a good day. He would tell me constantly that my dreams of traveling and writing were stupid and unreachable. He spent all of his time trying to tell me that I did not need to follow those dreams, I needed to settle down here with a job I did not want because it was more realistic. Now, I am going to spend a semester abroad and have even looked into Grad schools overseas. However, on an almost regular basis I feel the doubt begin to creep in and I think “I can’t do this. It’s unrealistic.”

His behavior towards me has left me with a deep-rooted fear of not being enough for myself and for other people. I find myself constantly watching what I say or do around others, afraid to be my real self in the case that my real self is not good enough for them. I have a constant fear of the people closest to me turning their backs. I spend a lot of time alone. I go to the gym alone, the movies, dinner, coffee shops. I have made myself get comfortable with being alone, in case one day I have to be.

It is a very difficult thing to live with, and I hate it every single day. Knowing that this man still has a form of control over me is a very hard thing to come to terms with. It hurts my heart to see other people suffering through unhealthy, volatile relationships because I know from experience that even once they get out if they get out, it will be an extremely long journey to self-recovery. This is why, even though people tell me not to talk about it or to keep quiet, I continue to raise my voice. These situations are happening everywhere. Look around you, I bet someone you see every day is secretly miserable inside at the hands of one of the people who is supposed to be showing them unconditional love.

I could go on about this topic for many more paragraphs, but I know this is an internet article, and no matter how interesting the topic is, we all get tired of reading them eventually. Instead, I’m going to end with poem I have written and include the hotline number for domestic violence. If you ever find yourself or someone you know in one of these situations, please do something about it. You could save a life.

What it’s like to be in an abusive relationship

(for those of you who haven’t)

It is waking up every morning and not knowing who you will be waking up to

It is stepping over minefields with your words

It is walking with your head down

It is “you are too young to be so sad”

It is living with a constant fear

It is “he won’t like that”

“that looks slutty”

“He’ll be mad”

On repeat in your head like a song

It is him telling you again and again you are not enough, you won’t reach your dreams, stay in small town America with me

It is feeling like you are suffocating every minute of every day

It is too many Sunday afternoons crying on the bathroom floor and drying your eyes before dinner with his parents

It is in the way you walk and the way you talk

It is in the way you hold yourself one year later in your new found freedom

It is with you forever

For those of you who haven’t been

Don’t

*Editor's Note: If you are someone you know is in an abusive relationship, whether that be physical or emotional, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE(7233). You are not alone.

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As A Muslim American, My Trip To Jerusalem Revealed That Open-Mindedness Bridges Communities

A life changing trip that opened my eyes up to the optimal dynamics in a community.

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On Dec. 21, my parents and I flew to Amman, a city in the beautiful country of Jordan, where we took a cab to the main part of Jerusalem. We were told by multiple family friends that it is not the safest to directly fly into Jerusalem because of the religious issues and riots going on. As we entered Jerusalem, I put my hijab on. A hijab is a head covering worn to cover a women's beauty in Islam. As I put my hijab on to pay respect to Mosque Aqsa, I noticed a change in perspective from everyone around me because suddenly, there were eyes from everywhere on me — Muslim and Jewish.

After we paid respect to Mosque Aqsa, we went to the hotel to sleep because we were exhausted from our 14 hour flight. The next morning, we woke up bright and early to begin our day by praying at Mosque Aqsa. I wore traditional American clothes, jeans and a top, because it was often worn in Jerusalem, though I kept a hijab on for prayer.

After praying, I was astonished by the gathering of all the Muslim people in the mosque area. This made me want to see the Wailing Wall and the place of the first church to view how others gather for their god. I knew the Wailing Wall was sacred because it was a prayer and pilgrimage place for Jewish people, while for Christians, Jesus was born inside the first church.

As we exited the mosque community, we found a kind man at the kiosk who gave us pomegranate and mangoes. My dad decided to ask this gentleman directions to the Wailing Wall. The man began screaming at me and my dad. He told us we are not allowed to even want to view the wall of the Jewish people. I responded and explained that we just want another perspective on other religions. The man yelled even louder. He told us that the Jewish people would convert us and that we should not leave the Mosque surroundings. With this, he furiously sat back down and did not give us any directions to the wall that was right behind this mosque. My dad and I were quite confused on what had just happened and the way our question for simple directions were handled.

We decided to walk along the sidewalk until we found someone to help us out. It was a 61-year-old man who seemed to be a Jewish person with his religious hat. He happily helped us out and gave us exact directions for the Wailing Wall, though he did say he was excited new people wanted to convert to his religion.

We followed his directions and successfully reached the Wailing Wall. There were gates at the Wailing Wall that had security checks that allowed people to enter as there were at the mosque. Although, the experience entering the wall and mosque was not the same. As a muslim woman wearing a hijab, I was able to walk through the mosque without anyone questioning me, I was easily able to walk in without questions asked.

At the wall, a security guard first made my family go through metal detectors, checked our passports and asked an immense amount of questions about why we wanted to go see the Wailing Wall if we were Muslim. Finally, after various obstacles and issues, we made it into the Wailing Wall.

As I experienced such obstacles, I thought about how different the community in Jerusalem was from the United States. It doesn't matter what group, each religion in Jerusalem was highly conservative. This is quite different from the United States.

The culture in the United States is significantly diverse, which allows the people here to be open minded. As an everyday routine, Americans interact with people of various religions and cultures that they don't question or change their perspective toward a certain race. Yes, there are always racist citizens who are not comfortable with other religions, but a majority of the United States depicts unity because of how culturally different every person is.

This is not how Jerusalem is seen. Religions are significantly segregated with one another through security check, restaurants, hotels and even streets. Every religion has their streets in Jerusalem and going to the one you are not a part of can result in awkward stares along with rude treatment.

As I had previously booked a hotel before arriving to Jerusalem, we were not aware that the street we booked was on the street of the Jewish people. This wasn't a major issue, but glares and different treatment were conveyed. As my parents and I would eat breakfast in the lounge, we would often get glares for the hijab or clothing we were wearing because it was different from everyone else around us. This was quite disturbing because every day we would go inside the hotel or leave and get glares that clearly depicted that we weren't wanted in this hotel. The hotel workers were indefinitely kind and caring at all times, though the people living there were not.

The experience I had was definitely an eye-opening lesson. It depicted the perspective of others in America versus Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem are not open-minded, which detaches the various religious groups in the nation. It prevents various religions to connect or be able to create united communities to be able to act as one.

As for the United States, there are different religions and cultures blended together with majority of the people who are open-minded. This allows the union of communities, while also allowing people to connect without the similarity of religion. I'm glad that I was able to have a once in a lifetime experience with my family. Although the segregation in the country was a little uncomfortable, I am glad that I was able to understand how lucky I am to live in an open, happy and united country and that I am also able to learn about the significance of open-mindedness in uniting people and communities.

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