Sometimes, it’s the most difficult experiences that shape us into the people we are today. As someone who was in an emotionally abusive relationship as a teenager, I can say that while it was difficult, it did make me stronger. I’m sharing my story here in order to help you get through this tough time and become the strong, beautiful person you are.
If you are going through an abusive relationship, know that you are not alone and there are people and places out there to help you. Please ensure that you are safe, then take action to remove yourself from the situation. If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call 911 for your local police services. Check out more information about abusive relationships.
Disclaimer: This article exists purely to help others going through an emotionally abusive relationship. I will not be sharing any names, as I am not looking to drag anyone’s name through the mud and want to protect their privacy and identity. I hold no resentment towards this person at this point in my life and it’s important to note that while we were toxic for each other, that does not make them the devil, so please be respectful when commenting. Thank you.
Where It All Began
In my second semester of my grade 11 year (I was 16), I had a class with him. To be completely honest with you, I didn’t really have any sort of interest in him initially outside of being friends. He wasn’t someone who I personally normally would have been attracted to, but when you’re 16 and all of your friends have boyfriends, you feel the pressure. At 16, when you haven’t had your first real kiss, you find yourself changing your standards to be pretty much anyone who shows interest in you who you find mildly tolerable. And he was more than mildly tolerable. On the surface, he was funny and charismatic. He seemed genuine.
When school ended for the summer, we hung out a couple of times one on one. We hung out at the beach, went to the movies, and he even brought me to his house for dinner to meet his parents. I could tell he was interested, so I should be too… right?
On the night of May 24th, we had our first kiss. It was at my front door. Sounds pretty classic, right? Except it was inside my front door… with my parents and my brother watching… and neither of us knew what we were doing, so it wasn’t good. I quickly wondered what I had been wishing for all these years. It wasn’t exactly how I pictured it going down, yet here we were.
He ended up changing his Facebook relationship status the next day (without my consulting – take note, ladies). I accepted. I wanted a boyfriend, and we got along well. This was probably the first time in my life I abandoned the “he’s too nice” rule that so many of us set for ourselves.
The first few months of our relationship were actually quite pleasant. We spent a lot of time together, and eventually my feelings grew. At four months, he told me he loved me. I wasn’t really sure what to say other than to just say it back, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t 100% convinced that I meant it, but I went with it anyway. Eventually, I was able to convince my conscious mind that it was true.
The Turning Point
I think the important thing to talk about here is that there really wasn’t one particular “turning point”. It all happened so gradually, even though it felt so sudden. We fell into a trap of fighting, making up, things being okay for a little while, repeat. They call this the cycle of abuse in the social sciences, and it’s a very real thing. It accounts for the reason most people in abusive relationships don’t even know they’re in one until it’s too late. This is what happened to us.
He learned my weaknesses and used them against me. He went out of his way to make me feel jealous of other girls. Manipulating my mind to think things were my fault was his number one tactic. He lied to me – it was because I was a bitch and he didn’t want to deal with it. Now, I’m not saying I was perfect in the relationship either. I think we were both toxic for each other. But from my end, I was being brainwashed into having much lower confidence, something that affected me long after he was gone.
He never hit me. I was fortunate in that way. He was aggressive around me towards things and other people. He did push me once during a heated argument but soon afterwards somehow justified the action to me. And I justified it in my mind. I justified everything because I thought it was normal. We would fight, he would storm off and lock me in a room to sob by myself, and he would later come back and apologize for his actions yet make me feel as though whatever we were fighting over was my fault.
One day, I got a call from him saying that he just got back from the doctor’s and there was a good chance that he had cancer. 17 year old me didn’t know how to process this, so I just cried. For weeks. My mom was extremely worried about me, and seeing as she had also experienced an emotionally abusive relationship in the past, she knew that he was lying. She called him out on lying and making me cry all the time. He got in her face and screamed at her, and I defended him, because “love” is so extremely blind.
From what she’s told me since, she felt hopeless, because no matter how much she tried to protect me and tell me that he was toxic, I wouldn’t listen. And it’s true, we never do listen until we figure it out on our own, sometimes when it’s too late. It turned out he never had cancer. He was a compulsive liar, and I fell for it every time.
How I Got Out
I want to tell you some heroic story about how I realized what was happening and stood up for myself, but that’s not what happened. What happened was that I left for university (two and a half hours away from my hometown). I came home three weeks in to visit him. He told me how excited he was to see me. We made plans and then he stood me up. I waited up all night to hear from him and I honestly thought he was dead. Even after everything I had already gone through with him, I didn’t believe that he could do that. There must have been something wrong. I never did hear from him.
The next day, my home phone got a text to landline message with half of a message on it. I don’t even remember what it said, all I remember is getting a notification from Facebook saying that he changed his relationship status to single. How funny is it that our relationship both began and ended with him changing his Facebook relationship status without consenting me? What a strange world we live in.
After all that happened, I’m sure you can probably assume that it took me a long time to get over this. Not get over him, per se, because there were plenty of cute guys at university who I was able to place my interests on. No, the struggles were within myself. They lied within my lost sense of self-confidence, my wounded spirit, and my lack of trust for anything or anyone. It took a long time to get those back. Years. Some of them I’m still working through to this day.
Getting past an experience like an abusive relationship is incredibly draining. Your mind, body, and spirit will feel exhausted trying to work through the damage within your soul. I would never tell you it’s easy, but it is possible. And it’s worth it. Go to therapy. Talk to loved ones. Do whatever you need to do to get through it, because once you make even that first bit of progress, you will know that you’re going to be okay.
You’re worthy of love, you just need to believe it within yourself. It’s also a good idea to take that time by yourself to heal before jumping into something else. You can’t love another person if you don’t love yourself – you need to be whole. And you will be. If I can get through it, you can too.
Thank you so much for reading this post. Check out my last relationship post, Date Night Ideas for Millennials on a Budget or my most recent post, The Perfect Fitness Plan for the Girl Who Hates Exercise for more fun stuff. Also be sure to get access to the Free Resource Library, where I add extra references on topics such as relationships, mental health, career advice, and staying organized and productive.