“For once in my life, the voice which he tried to silence was finally able…to speak freely.”
The Abuse Story
My ex-boyfriend was mentally and sexually abusive. He quickly learned how to isolate me from my friends and family. When I had no one, he was the only one I had. He used this to his advantage and would push me to have sexual encounters with him. I felt like I had no choice, even though I was raised in the church and was raised to never have sex before marriage. I told him several times that I didn’t like what we were doing and his responses were always along the lines of, “But it’s too hard to stop now that we’ve started”, so I gave in and let him have his way because having his love was more important to me even though I was going against everything I stood for. He stripped me of my identity. I was nothing without him. He was the puppet master and I was the puppet, unable to make decisions on my own and completely unaware of the abuse that was occurring to me.
Ironically enough, he was the one who broke up with me “because God told him to”, but looking back at it now, I think it’s because he realized he couldn’t control me the way he wanted to. My dad had pulled me to the side a few months before we broke up and confronted me with some red flags he was seeing in our relationship, although we hid most of our relationship behind closed doors. After the conversation with my dad, it started getting me thinking and I started to see a few red flags of my own, but still fully unaware that what I was experiencing was abuse. I started to stand up for myself and to voice my own opinion even though they were quickly shot down and would end in an argument.
It took me a few years to realize that what I had experienced in that relationship was abuse. I constantly felt ashamed of the actions that I had done while in this relationship. I was supposed to be “the good Christian girl”, but now I felt damaged and the word “whore” ran in my ears no matter how much I pushed the thoughts to the side. When I finally came to a place where I didn’t want to hide behind this secret, that I had been mentally and sexually abused, I confronted a couple of close friends of mine about it. While on my journey of confronting this abuse head on, I quickly fell into a downward spiral and became severely depressed, all I wanted to do was die. After I recovered from the depression, I became extremely angry, I was irritable with everyone and everything; I hated the world and I hated all the injustices in it.
When Did You Start to Feel In Control
Soon after I opened up about the abuse to my friends, I started working with an online Christian counselor who specialized in trauma and abuse. I think it was just being able to talk openly and freely about what had happened to me that allowed me to feel like I had control back in my life. For once in my life, the voice which he tried to silence was finally able to not only fully comprehend what had happened to me, but was able to use it and speak freely.
Another thing that really made me feel like I had taken control back in my life, was while working my counselor, I was able to start finding my identity. My identity isn’t the abuse that occurred to me, and it isn’t the lies that were in my head that I am unloved and a whore, but it’s in who God says I am.
Tips for Dealing with Flashbacks
If you are currently out of the abusive situation, remind yourself that you are safe. Surround yourself with positive people who support you.
What are some boundaries you've put up to protect yourself?
I have decided not to confront my ex-boyfriend about the abuse and to go no contact, as I know that he will fully deny all of it, which would mostly likely have me spiraling downwards again.
Although the abuse was not my fault, I realized that my lack of boundaries made the abuse even more inevitable because I am completely and utterly a people pleaser. I’m learning how to say no and learning how to spend time for myself. I’m even learning how to confront others when I feel like I have been treated unjustly. I’m learning that other people’s opinions of me don’t matter.
What are some techniques you use to bring positivity into your life?
I have learned to relax. Instead of getting anxious and worry over every detail in my life, I have learned to let go and simply enjoy life. By trying to control life, I have made it more difficult. I’m still being a responsible adult, but I worry less now and enjoy life so much more.
Advice For People in Abusive Situations
Don’t get stuck in the thought cycle of “why”. Why is this happening to me? Why did he do this to me? Why didn’t I see this? Instead, change the why’s to how’s and what’s.
What Are Some Things You Enjoy Doing Now?
I have always loved working with the Special Needs population, even before the abuse. My career is in working with this population. I am so passionate about this vulnerable population of people it gives me pure joy in sharing life with them and shouting their worth to those who don’t know how valuable they are.
I love to host friends over at my tiny apartment for dinner and game nights. I’m finding that spending time in fellowship with good friends brings so much joy to my life. But I’m also very self-conscious about making sure I spend time for myself to rest. Without this time, I burnout easily.
Most of this time I spend studying Scripture and spending time with God, doing hobbies I enjoy like going to the gym or walking around Target (and not trying to buy everything).
What Helps You See the Beauty in the World?
After going through the darkest experience of my life so far, I find that in comparison that there is beauty in everything. That God can take something so dark and ugly and bring forth beauty. I am stronger now than I ever have been because of this experience, even though it was something that sought out to end me.
What makes you feel confident?
Being able to use my voice and articulate my thoughts and feelings.