How I left


CN: Emotional abuse, physical injury

Image credit: Mariana Montes de Oca, Flickr

Image credit: Mariana Montes de Oca, Flickr

I had a bad feeling from the start. It was all too rushed, too clingy, too demanding. But I brushed it off and thought it would be fine, I’m in too deep to change my mind – he’s just got some insecurities and somewhat warped ideas about how relationships work. A few weeks in and the alcohol and anger issues started getting problematic. Then the constant messaging, ceaseless demands, making me feel awful for not spending time with him when he hated his friends so much.

Sex got boring for him – I didn’t want to do the things he wanted, I wasn’t imaginative enough, I didn’t initiate enough – but that didn’t stop him demanding it, all the time. He told me it was only because he cared so much about me. Only because he found me so attractive that he wasn’t able to resist pushing me for sex, all the time. Sometimes it was good and he seemed to care, he made me feel wanted. Then, when I started saying no, he’d say I didn’t feel the same way about him. That I didn’t find him attractive, and he felt bad about how he looked so he really needed someone to show they found him attractive. His ex used to do it all the time – why couldn’t I?

I started getting recurring pain issues, I got anxious about staying over at his and even more terrified of saying no. The pain and bleeding became an embarrassment, a flaw in my body and an inability to do what I’m told I should be able to do ‘all the time’. Each time I resisted it would be my fault again. If I kept saying no, he’d keep pushing until I gave in – leaving me disgusted and ashamed at myself. The pain was irrelevant to him; he feigned concern when it suited him, only to push me again later. I couldn’t do anything right – I wasn’t supportive enough, I spent too much time with my friends, I didn’t shower him with gifts or plan extravagant displays of falsified devotion. I worked too hard, my CV was ‘too good’ and I had too many male friends. He felt so terrible about himself, his shallow friendship group and isolation from people who could support him, but nothing I said or did could rectify that.

This went on for a long time, each time cutting me off further from friends, each time making me feel that little bit worse about myself. This continued coercive control and sexual abuse pervaded every aspect of my life at university, but it was so carefully hidden from view. Eventually I started opening up. I sought advice and professionals finally put words to what I was going through, telling me how wrong this was. And I couldn’t be more grateful for them all. To every person that told me to get out and gave me the support I needed to do so – thank you.