Author’s note: This article discusses dating violence and abuse.
My legs felt like bricks weighing me down, because each step I took on the pavement could not seem to take me far enough away from him. My thoughts were blurred, and my chest felt like an explosion of anxiety. As my breath quickened, I tripped on hiccups and tears. I made him mad again, and I was scared of him when he was mad.
In the beginning of my relationship with Alex*, it all seemed normal—or what I thought was normal. I was a freshman in high school and it was my first “real” relationship. We talked on the phone for hours, held hands in the school hallways, and spent our lunches together. I started to realize things were not right after noticing several red flags that made me feel uneasy, but I chose to ignore them.
For the first few months, he was a typical boyfriend, but then he gradually began to control my life. At first he did it in small ways, like asking me to show him my text messages and walking me to every single class. Then it turned into larger things like giving me a dress code and forbidding me to spend time with my friends outside of school. If I did follow his requests, he would get extremely angry.
When he was mad he called me rude names and refused to let me leave until we “worked things out.” When he was really angry he would yell and become physical like punching the walls or grabbing my arm tightly. He also had stalker-like habits in which he would follow me home if we were in a fight. I remember he stood outside my house for so long that I almost called the police.
After his outbursts and he had calmed down, he would apologize and blamed his actions on his medication. Then he would bring up all of the good times that we’ve shared together so I would forget about his episode.
He told me he loved me and I believed him. I felt responsible for keeping him happy and was that afraid if I left him, he would hurt himself—because he had threatened to do so several times. I was also afraid to leave because he had isolated me from my friends. At the time, I thought he was my only friend and I would be alone if I left him.
The day I realized he had become dangerous was when I did not want to go to school because he was upset with me about joining a new club at school. I was scared how he would react when I saw him in person. When I told my mom the reason I did not want to go to school, she immediately called my school’s social worker and got me help. After several visits at the social workers office, I was able to muster up the courage to leave him.
I was manipulated into thinking that what he did was okay. My friends and family had reached out in concern to me several times, but I brushed them off and insisted that everything was normal. I did not want to believe that this was happening to me and that I needed help. I was wrong, and I am extremely thankful for my family and friend’s love and support.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help immediately.
Warning signs of a partner include:
- Acts jealous or possessive
- Controls your actions or who you spend time with
- Has an unpredictable temper
- Threatens to or has hurt you or themselves
- Forces you to do things you do not want to do
- Blames you or others for their behavior
- Yells at or humiliates you
- Ignores your opinions and accomplishments
Warning signs of a family member/friend’s behavior that may indicate they are in an abusive relationship include:
- Seems afraid of their partner
- Will do anything to please their partner; putting their own needs aside
- Constantly checking in with partner to report what they are doing
- Mentions their partners temper or extreme jealousy
- Having frequent visible injuries
- Missing school, work or other social activities
No one should have to go through this.
*Name was changed in order to keep the identity private
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.