*Warning: Adult language below!*
“I don’t know even how I got here,” you recount to a friend. You are a strong, independent feminist; how did you end up in an abusive relationship? How did you get here?
But, once upon a time, before the insults and tears, there was love.
There was fast-paced, whirlwind romance. There were “I love you’s” and “forevers” long before there was “stupid slut” and “fucking liar.”
It didn’t happen all at once. Slowly over time—so slowly you didn’t realize it was happening—he wore away your sparkle and dulled your shine. Like a frog in boiling water that never realizes it is dying.
That’s how abuse sneaks up on you. Under the guise of love and worry.
Suddenly, you wake up a stranger to yourself. Everything that made you special is wrong. You can never do anything right. Because you are stupid. Or a liar. Why do you act like that? Why do you make him do that? It’s always your fault.
You wonder, is all love like this? And answer your own question before the thought is even fully formed: No.
You go to sleep, trying to silence the alarms in your head. You bury your face into the pillow in an attempt to silence your inner voice. It’s yelling. No, it’s shrieking. “Run! Now! Run!”
So you do. You run. Far away. Across miles and statelines.
You haven’t felt this free since childhood. Like a kid newly released from time out, you are giddy. But still, he tries to tear you back. To lure you with false hope and lies. By now, you know, not all love is like this. Not all love hurts this much.
Mostly, you know you love yourself.
Soon your color starts to return and you’re no longer dull. Then one day your sparkle appears and it’s like it never left. You are radiant. And strong. The alarms in your head are silent. Your inner voice is singing. A song of strength. A song of survival—for you are a warrior.
You have chosen to give yourself a gift. You have chosen happiness. You have chosen to be free.
Abuse is never okay. Getting out of an abusive or violent relationship is never easy. Maybe you still have hope that things will change, believe that it’s your fault, or feel scared of what your partner will do if they discover you’re planning on leaving. Whatever your reasons, you probably feel helpless and trapped.
You are not alone. There is help is available. Start by reaching out. You deserve to live free of fear.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive or violent relationship, please contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for help. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Author: Heather Tucker
Image: Used with permission from Tareck Raffoul // Author’s Own
Editor: Toby Israel