Years of sustained emotional abuse left Jessica* struggling with feelings of low self worth and desperate to escape her abusive partner for good. Here, she shares how she regained her freedom, strength and happiness.
*** Jessica’s story has been published, in her own words, at her request as she hopes her experience will help others. Names have been changed to protect her identity. She’s awesome. ***
I had come out of a relationship with a guy who was never available, so I thought, ‘Wow, this is what love looks like and he really likes me!’
Little did I know this was love-bombing, and therefore a form of control: he wanted to lure me in as quickly as possible and he wanted to monopolize all my time.
He wrote me poems, using the most flowery language I’ve ever heard. My friends told me it was too over the top. I ignored them; certain I’d found the love of my life.
He was constantly there, he never wanted me to go out, and got jealous of everyone I spoke to. I thought that I really mattered to him. At the time, I had no idea what an abusive relationship is.
This man promised me the moon, and I was on cloud nine.
I confronted him about some untruths, and every time he denied and minimised them – and somehow lost his temper with me.
After six months together, I tried to leave him.
He threatened to ruin my reputation. And when that didn’t work, he threatened suicide. He took pictures of bottles of pills he was going to take and sent them to me in the middle of the night.
Each time I tried to leave, he’d threaten me.
I didn’t leave. Why? Because I was weak and I was strong-willed at the same time. I believed he was a good person somewhere inside, and I thought I could change him.
I thought if I acted right, he would treat me better. I thought I could bring back the person he pretended to be at the very beginning.
He didn’t allow me to have friends. He trash talked all my friends, told me my best friend hit on him, he punished me for seeing any friends. Over the course of this relationship, I lost every single friend and I wasn’t allowed to make any new ones.
I became depressed and afraid. He also didn’t allow me to participate in any outside interests. If I ever went to the gym, or even grocery shopping without reporting to him first, I’d suffer consequences. He either gave me silent treatment and withdrew all affection, or he yelled and screamed at me to punish me.
He criticized my clothing, hair, makeup. I was either dressing like a whore or a nun.
I could never do right. Whenever I bought new clothes, he purposely never gave me a compliment – and hinted that he preferred other styles.
On his good days, he would pump me up. He would put me on a pedestal. But I never stayed on there too long before being knocked down, and harder each time.
This person enjoyed making me cry, and when I cried, he either told me I was manipulating him with tears or he sat there stone cold playing on his phone waiting for me to be done.
He had double standards. I wasn’t allowed to have friends, go out, look pretty, drink alcohol, exercise, or go swimming; but he was entitled to do whatever he wanted – and he hid many things from me that he did.
He lost his temper with me many times.
He couldn’t take any form of criticism or even an opinion different to his own. He was highly sensitive so I couldn’t say anything to him.
Often, he broke up with me at the slightest disagreement. He broke my self esteem and took away my smile.
I became depressed and he told me ‘Look, if you were always this depressed I’d never have been with you,’ and that no other guy would put up with me because I’m emotionally high maintenance.
Over the years, I was brainwashed.
I watched him lie cheat and steal. I knew was involved with a bad character, but I was too addicted to get out. I finally left him after countless failed attempts. He would chase me back every time, but punish me afterward for leaving.
He told me I was the manipulative one because he was the puppet on my string: I left him to make him chase me, apparently.
I desperately wanted to get away. And then I finally did. Nothing major happened to make me leave, but when I got out I didn’t look back, ever.
I blocked him, changed my email, changed my routine, hid in the house for months, lied about moving away, I cancelled all social media and never checked his.
Despite everything I did to hide, I suffered a whole year of being stalked.
I think he finally stopped because he realised he could never get me back and he has lost all control over me. That made him move on to the next person.
During No Contact, it was hard. I had so many suppressed feelings, it took many months to feel everything I wasn’t allowed to feel during the relationship.
I felt anger, betrayal, injustice, and sadness. I also didn’t believe he never loved me. But I stuck to No Contact, and I kept loving myself no matter what.
I’m happy to report that I’m happy!
I’ve learned so much during this year. I’ve become the best person I’ve ever been, and I’m looking the best I’ve ever looked.
I have let go the fantasy with this abusive person, I have accepted that he never loved me, and what he did to me was abuse. Even though he never put his hands on me (not yet), what he did to me was bad enough and if I stayed, it would only escalate.
I’ve learned that my self worth is in my own hands.
I am beautiful because I am a beautiful person inside out, not because he told me so or he told me otherwise. I realized I am smart and resilient, I am strong and stronger than he can ever know.
At this point of my life, I truly don’t care about this person. I don’t care what he does: I have let him go completely. I only achieved this with No Contact. I want everyone to know that I thought I’d never get here, but I did! And I’m happy, without the abuse.
We have to courageously let go the illusion of love the abuser created for us. We must look for and believe in truth.
Thank you Avalanche for offering me advice at the times I really needed it. I am happy and I am free and I can’t stop saying that.
I hope someone will benefit from my experience and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is always darkest before dawn.