This is Real Stories - a blog by Let's Be Real members about their experiences with relationships, dating, and more. LBR is a movement by young people for young people about relationships.
So many feelings bounced around my mind. Scared. Embarrassed. Stupid. I felt so stupid: Stupid that I didn't see it sooner. Scared: Scared that I let myself get into an unhealthy and unsafe relationship. Embarrassed: Why did my friends notice before me? Did I think this was okay? Did I think this was normal? Why did I stay with him so long? Why didn't I leave him sooner?
All of these thoughts ricocheted around my head, and still do. My boyfriend of 6 months was abusive. He would tell me what to wear, what not to wear, how to style my hair the way he liked it, my makeup, which perfume to wear. He would tell me that my male friends only wanted to sleep with me, that they didn't care about me as a friend; didn't have my best interest at heart. And for me, someone who had never had a serious boyfriend before, I thought that this is what it looks like when someone loves you; they want to control you…because they care. But hindsight is 20/20 and I now know that is not true.
When someone loves you they want you to be YOU. They want you to be carefree and confident and happy. When someone loves you they don't want you to be stressed about what you are wearing for fear of upsetting them. When someone loves you, they want you to be able to spend time with you friends, regardless of their gender, and they NEVER want you to fear spending time with friends because they might get jealous or angry. Someone who loves you doesn't isolate you from family and friends until they are the only person in your life. Someone who loves you should make you FEEL LOVED, not make it feel like they are the only person who COULD love you.
But that’s exactly what he did. And what my friends and family saw as verbal abuse, manipulation, rage, control, and isolation, I saw as passion from a person who loved me. It was only until I was with a friend who saw a text interaction between me and my boyfriend that I knew I was in a dangerous situation. I was with one of my best girlfriends when he texted asking where I was. I texted back that I was in town with a girlfriend. He asked who. I gave him her name. He then said “I haven’t heard you talk about her before. Who are you really with? What’s his name?” I felt a knot in my stomach. Suddenly everything my friends and family had been saying started to echo in my mind and I knew it wasn't normal.
“WHO IS HE” he texted again. “WHO ARE YOU WITH??”
I was about to laugh off the text from him when I saw my friends face. She looked sick, like she had seen a ghost. She took my phone and looked through the texts she had just overseen. She asked me what else he controlled in my life, what he’s been angry about. So I told her, and for the first time in months, I HEARD what I was saying. Without him looking over my shoulder and putting thoughts into my head, I could see clearly that this was a situation I did not want to be in. But then the fear set in. If he gets so angry about little things like my hair or my makeup or going out with a girl friend, how is he going to react when I tell him this isn't a healthy relationship and I need to end it? He’s punched holes in walls, said awful and hurtful things to me and when he’s angry he scares me. In that moment I realized a lot:
A text from your boyfriend/girlfriend should NEVER give you a knot in your stomach.
No matter how vulnerable you may feel in the moment, you are worthy and deserving of love- REAL love that builds you UP and does not tear you down.
You do NOT deserve to be spoken down to, belittled, made to feel small or insignificant by anybody.
You are stronger than you know.
You will be OKAY.
So I told myself all of that. He had distanced me from my friends and family, so I was feeling a little alone in the moment, but I decided to change that lonely feeling into independence as I picked up the phone to call him and end it. Distance was the key for me. I was scared for the outcome of ending things in person. I was scared I wouldn't be safe, that he would get physical and then start taunting me with verbal abuse that he had done before. I wanted to have control over the situation so I would be safe. The ability to hang up and cut off any verbal abuse was important to me. So I sat in my room and called him. My voice was shaking, my hands were trembling holding the phone to my ear. I sounded like a health magazine; using all the right words to try and get him to understand that he was being abusive and I am ending things.
“Verbally and physically abusive”
I said everything I needed to say. I told him not to come to my house or my college, not to chase after me or come to my place of work- that I had told everyone about the situation and I will be safe and NOT alone. I blocked his contact on my phone and on all social media and focused on self love to rebuild myself after he had worked tirelessly to tear me down and make me feel worthless. I worked to rebuild the friendships he had distanced me from.
And now instead of hearing from him all the things I am NOT, I tell myself who I am:
I am a writer, I am a musician, I am a student, I am a daughter, I am a friend, I am a lover of life. And now I share my story to help other men and women, young and old, to show that relationship abuse can come in many forms. Manipulation and control can be abuse, verbal abuse can be just as painful and damaging as physical abuse, and NONE of it is normal, healthy, or okay. You are NOT alone, you ARE a strong person deserving of so much love. If anyone tells you otherwise, that is not love.
Let’s be real: love is empowerment, love is compassion, love is a partnership, love is friendship, love is honest and truthful.
Scarlet is a contributing member to Let’s Be Real - Break the Cycle’s movement for young people by young people about relationships. She is a London-Born Writer and Singer/Songwriter from Boston, Massachusetts who uses her music and writing to empower others and raise awareness about relationship abuse. Scarlet is a college student, fitness and cooking lover, and advocate of healthy living. You can follow her music page on Facebook @Scarletdelemenymusic.
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