You never know that you are in an abusive relationship until you are not in one anymore. Abusers trick their partners into thinking that they need them to survive – and their partners believe them.
Abuse may start off slow, but then build into a mountain, pinning the victim underneath it and making it impossible for them to see anything or anyone but their abuser.
By: Landon Funk
In films like For Colored Girls, we see a number of women who are each in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. Actress Kimberly Elise plays Crystal, a woman who endures a harsh marriage to her abusive, alcoholic husband.
Characters played by Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, and Kerry Washington encounter hardships and question whether or not they should take their own lives. The sobering film directed by Tyler Perry will likely make you recall traumatic memories; it certainly made me think of mine.
When I look back at my last relationship, it seems like a movie. I cannot comprehend that the woman I saw suffering was me. My ex-boyfriend never hit me or physically hurt me; however, he was emotionally and verbally abusive on a regular basis.
By the time I was out of it, I believed that I was a piece of trash that he decided to throw away.
While I was in the relationship, my friends sat me down and told me how desperately they wanted me to leave him. I promised them that I would “as soon as he does something else disrespectful.”
But I never did. When the mountain crushes you, you cannot do anything but trust the mountain.
More on KimberlyElise.com: Does your partner respect you? Here’s how to tell.
He would get upset when I wanted him to walk me to my car at night. Knowing that I had been sexually assaulted before, he would still yell at me when I was having a PTSD episode.
I adopted a dog, and he tried to force me to take it back to the shelter so he could adopt a cat. He talked the talk, but never walked the walk, thriving on his narcissism.
If I was not his perfect girlfriend, then he would become vividly livid. If he stood me up and I called him out on it, he would become vividly livid.
I could not win, but I loved him, constantly convincing myself that love is a struggle. We were going to be alright, right?
I look back at the woman I was when we were together, and I am truly shocked by what I see. I have never been someone who falls for someone so hard that they cannot see what is happening. You never think it could happen to you… until it does. I hated myself for it for a while, allowing depression to take over every aspect of my life.
It was not until this past May that I decided to forgive myself for falling into his trap, a fly caught in his dangerous spider web.
Honestly, self-forgiveness is the most courageous thing abuse victims can do. When we choose to forgive, we decide that our suffering will no longer control our lives. It is okay to come to terms with and accept your past, even if the trauma is still there. Because once you forgive yourself, you can start to live. And isn’t that what we all want – to live?
If you think that you are in an abusive relationship and do not know how to escape, look into places like Thistle Farms, women’s centers, and rape treatment centers. You can always call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-3224 for 24-hour support.
Because you deserve better.
What would you say to get through to a friend in an abusive relationship? Share with us in the comments below.