I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across a post about a crazy girlfriend, about one who was possessive and jealous. The tweet had thousands of likes and retweets, and people kept responding to it about how it was hilarious.
Normally, if it was a funny tweet, I would retweet it myself – but this made me furious.
I started to think about the fact that there are so many people out there who have been in abusive relationships but have been too afraid to say anything about it. It’s hard in today’s society, when abuse is romanticized and almost seen as a trend, to come out and tell people “I was in an abusive relationship.”
The other thing is that many people do not seem to realize that abuse comes in all forms, not just physical. It can be emotional and mental abuse too.
I decided to reach out to people who were willing to share their stories so long as it is anonymous.
Here is some insight from people who have experienced unhealthy relationships:
1. “It was constantly putting me down, telling me no one else would want me and I wasn’t good enough for him. Anything I did in life wasn’t good enough. Always talked about my appearance and how much prettier everyone else was than me. He even hit and slapped me a few times.”
2. “It’s like a 2,000 pound brick crushing your chest, & no matter what you do, you can’t get away. It encompasses your entire being. He made me feel very pressured to do the things he wanted. Like it was either I did it or the relationship ended. Like, he never trusted me. Any time I interacted with a male on social media I’d be questioned about it & probably forced to delete him. If I fought back he’d guilt trip me & say if I really loved him I’d agree to it. But at the same time he was very hypocritical. I could not turn that same treatment onto him. If I told him to stop talking to some girl he wouldn’t listen. He just didn’t want to hear it & wouldn’t take me seriously. He also did this thing to me called “gaslighting” which is a textbook example of emotional abuse.* I always had to succumb to his ways. Things never went the way I wanted.”
3. “I guess a huge part of the abuse was the isolation and controlling. I eventually stopped seeing friends and family, and began to be scared anytime I wanted to see anyone else, because I was afraid of him. He convinced me not to get a job, he stopped me from going to parties, calling me a “hoe” if I tried to go. One of the worse parts would be the sexual side of the relationship – for a while I really just didn’t want to have sex, and eventually he got to the point of screaming at me to get me to do what he wanted.”
4. “Abusive people (or toxic people).. when they can’t control you anymore, they try to control what other people think of you. It’s ridiculous how much they care about wanting to take you down.”
5. “The thing with being in any sort of abusive relationship is that you become a shell of who you once were – you go from being independent and always standing up for yourself to becoming someone who listens to everything the other person tells you to do, regardless of whether you want to do it or not – and this comes from a fear that that person will leave you if you don’t co-operate”
6. “It started with arguments that escalated to unnecessary yelling, fights that happened every day, I felt like I had to walk on eggshells or I would get screamed at, my feelings on any matter were never valid only his were. It got to where the fights were more than just yelling, he’d punch things around me then that escalated too over time. The most emotionally manipulative thing was he’d have a complete turnaround after and cry after so I’d feel bad and not think about the blowout fight we just had. The hardest part of being in an abusive relationship was the way my friends looked at me. It was this awful mix of sympathy and disappointment.”
7. “My husband is controlling/emotionally abusive. I haven’t faced anything too extreme or that i can’t handle, but he withholds affection or gives me the silent treatment (longest was almost a month) if i don’t do as he says. He’s always making snide hurtful remarks about my weight, ability as a mother/wife etc. in public, and has hit me a few times. Mostly, I just feel like his love is conditional.”
8. “She made me block around 50-60 girls on Twitter. All they had to do was tweet at me of favorite one of my tweets & she’d bitch at me for letting that happen. She’d immediately ask who the girl was & why were they tweeting at me. It got so bad to where I wouldn’t tweet for weeks because of fear that a girl would favorite my tweet & I’d have to deal with her bitch fit. She would never let things go. Once she was mad she would stay mad about that same thing for days. I would try my hardest to give her love & tell her how sorry I was but instead she’d call me a bad boyfriend for letting these girls talk to me. If we were in public & a girl would walk by I pretty much had to close my eyes because if she saw me even look at a girl for a second, she would start yelling at me in public saying I don’t love her. She would cause such a havoc that I would just be like I would rather stay home and do nothing. I would get a literal physical pain in my chest all the time when we would fight or she would yell at me. She made me feel like I’m a terrible person and like I didn’t know how to treat a girl right. There is a stereotype that only guys can be abusive when in fact in can be both genders.”
9. “I recently got out of a relationship, it was long distance. One of the bigger problems in our relationship was communication and trust, specifically her trusting me. I never did anything behind her back, I barely ever went out with friends because I always liked spending time talking to her but when I did she’d always ask if there were gonna be any girls and if so who. At one point I pretty much cut all ties with my friends who were girls because I was afraid of starting something. I also lied to her a few times about seeing a girl (because she happened to be at the same place as me) and talking to her because I knew she’d think something was up when it wasn’t. She was really jealous and I understand why, especially in a long distance relationship – but sometimes it was too much. Every interaction I had with any female, she’d be on the lookout. I proved to her plenty of times that she could trust me. At one point I felt… suffocated. I like talking to people, male or female. And I’d mostly do it publicly on social media so there was nothing sketchy. The jealousy and trust aspect of the relationship felt unfair. She could always give me a hard time for these things and if I got jealous (which I rarely ever did because I trusted her) I would be wrong for it.”
10. “It didn’t quite click that some of the things he said/did were manipulative or abusive until after we’d broken up and I’d had some distance to think. He lied about so many things and some of them weren’t even important but he was trying to “save face” or something I’m not even sure. I believed literally anything and everything he said because he always knew exactly what to say and how to say it to make me feel or do or act however he wanted me to. I started to question myself… Am I really that naive, or stupid, or desperate for love that I would willingly throw away my entire life and everyone who’s important to me for a guy who only wanted me around because it was convenient for him?
I still feel like that sometimes, and it’s the worst feeling to have especially when trying to meet someone new. I’m so closed off and I have trouble trusting even the people who are closest to me sometimes. Because he used to be one of them, so if he could treat me the way he did, then who’s to say that no one else can’t? The closest I got to realizing exactly how fucked up everything was while we were still together was when I got into grad school. We were long distance at the time (a decision he made for both of us without even really consulting me first or giving me a real choice), and I’d gotten into a school here close to home and also one out of state that would have been somewhat close to him. I heard back from the out of state school first and we were both really excited to be closer to each other for the first time in over a year, but then when I heard from the school that was an hour away from home, I told him I wanted to CONSIDER staying instead. He got upset. No “congratulations for getting into your top pick for a competitive grad program,” but instead, upset that I didn’t want to automatically choose the school that would be close to him. Upset that I didn’t “care about our future.”
The worst part? I actually felt bad. I felt guilty for not considering him enough to want to move out of state. I felt guilty for not understanding how hard it must be for him to be so far away from home while dealing with the completely uncertain direction his life was taking. I felt guilty for even SUGGESTING ways to make his life better or help him get back on his feet. Because I’d “never been in his position so how could I possibly understand what he was going through?” I felt dumb and useless and completely out of control. I had no idea what to do because this was the man I’d loved for the better part of a decade. How was I supposed to just throw that all away because we hit a “rough spot.” I ended it because I knew I was miserable and just couldn’t keep living that way. I realize now it was never a rough spot but him calling all the shots and me going along with it because I felt like I had to. I don’t know if that counts as abusive or not, but it definitely left scars, even if no one can see them.”
11. “I was in an abusive relationship for a year with a guy who beat me up so badly he put me in the hospital and I almost died. To live under the fear and control of another human being based solely on the physical disadvantage you suffer in relation to your abuser is like having your humanity stripped. That all your worth and value as a living person no longer matters and you are degraded to the importance of a disposable object. That your body is for another’s taking, which leaves scars on you that live on forever, while they walk out of your life like you never meant a thing. That’s when the pain really kicks in.”
*Manipulating a person to such an extent that the victim starts to question his/her own sanity.