October 26, 2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Something I Know All Too Well About

October gets a lot of attention for being Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is also Domestic Violence Awareness month, an equally important issue. This topic is very personal to me. When I was 19 and very naive, I was in an abusive relationship. Domestic violence isn't always defined as solely physical abuse, but emotional and mental as well. My relationship unfortunately involved all the above.

From my memory (or maybe I like to convince myself) things started off well. We had a lot of great dates, he got along well with my friends and I fell in love (he was my first). He was seven years older than me, jumped from job to job and wouldn't introduce me to his family. A real winner.

He had a drinking problem, which I never took into account as more than a social thing until a year or so into the relationship. It wasn't until during my friend's birthday party when he punched my sister's husband, for no apparent reason, that I realized his drinking was an issue. However, that didn't stop me from seeing him. It made me want to help him.

My family tried to ground me thinking if they didn't let me out of their sight that I would have to stop seeing him. However, they couldn't keep me under supervision 24/7. I thought he loved me so I went through ridiculous hoops to see him. I defended him to my family saying he would never hurt me. That didn't last long though. Soon his angry drunken rages were directed at me.

He cheated on me multiple times, but still somehow made me feel like I was responsible for making him do it. Looking back now, of course I see that was silly. I went on a trip out of town with some friends and while there having fun he said that he felt like I was cheating on him (when it was him). He definitely used "I love you" as a sense of power.

The relationship dragged out for about two years and took a very low point for me to finally leave. All my friends and family told me to not see him that I started lying to them when I did because I didn't want to disappoint them. I knew it was foolish, but yet still continued to see him. However my lying came to surface after he put me in the hospital. I couldn't lie or defend him then.

It was hard to not think I was foolish for a long time. I didn't trust any guy for a long time, but I'm happy to say that I've had two healthy and happy relationships since then. So for all those who have been in an abusive relationship thinking that they'll never have a healthy relationship with a man or woman again... you will! You may have your guard up longer than most, but those who are worth it will get you to put your guard down.

If I can leave you with one thought, let it please be: No one who loves you will EVER lay a hand on you. Someone who abuses you does NOT love you.

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