Relationships aren’t always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes they’re horrible, they suck the life out of you and take away your will to do anything, even leave. Sometimes relationships are toxic and you never even realize until you’re in too deep.
Now, I know you might not believe that, and truth be told, I don’t blame you. You always think “Oh, that won’t happen to me. I’m too smart for that.” I thought that, too, until it happened to me. My once-steady relationship became the thing I dreaded facing every day, until finally I had the courage to end it.
The funny thing was that ending it didn’t bring me the immediate relief I thought it would. I felt horrible, like I was giving up too easily or letting him down. When I got home after ending it, I cried to two of my best friends and asked why I wasn’t enough. But the reality of it was never that I wasn’t good enough for him. It was that he wasn’t good enough for me.
It took me a little bit to see that. The day after it ended, I stayed in bed all day until I got up to go to my best friend’s house. There, I cried on him for a few hours (bless him for letting me), until I came to a realization, the realization I so desperately needed.
I was free.
Immediately after that realization, I felt happier than I had in the past year. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it. I still cared about him, which let him keep the same hold he had had on me, albeit one that was slightly looser. It took me way too long to completely free myself from his hold, but now that I have, and am in a healthy relationship, I’m much happier.
I’m not telling this story to get sympathy from anyone. I’m telling this story to let all of you know that it could have been you. It can happen to anybody. Love Is Respect says that one in three teenagers will be in an abusive relationship at some point in their lives.
This number is way too high.
No one should feel afraid of their partner. I believe the best way to counter dating abuse is to raise awareness of what abuse looks like. It starts small, but it can escalate quickly. If your partner is putting you down, threatening you, yelling at you over little things or trying to make you feel bad for who your friends are, leave. That is not normal behavior, and it is never okay. If your partner physically harms you on purpose, leave. Even if they apologize and promise they’ll never do it again, leave. They do not love you, and they will do it again.
If you feel like something is very wrong in your relationship, you are absolutely not obligated to stay. Leave, even if they threaten to harm themselves. You are not responsible for their actions to themselves. You did not make them do it. If you feel that someone close to you is being abused, please speak up and encourage them to get help. They might not leave right away, and while I realize that might be incredibly heartbreaking and frustrating, do not leave them to fend for themselves. Leaving your friend will only encourage them to stay in the relationship.Love should not hurt. Do not let anyone treat you less than you deserve, because no matter how they make you feel, you deserve to feel safe, respected and loved.