Julie, 40, Nebraska, auditor for a hotel.
Can you describe who your abuser was and how the abuse began?
An ex boyfriend shortly after we started dating. I met this guy through a mutual friend. She informed me he had been in prison for forgery but has been reformed and just trying to do better. We met up with him and he took us out for a late night dinner or early morning breakfast. I took my friend home and offered to take this guy home. I honestly wasn't feeling him but he convinced me to hang out at my apartment. We spent the night talking and exchanged numbers.
I felt like I didn't get a say if I wanted to be with him or not but it was decided we were dating. Red flag #1. Never discussed if I wanted to pursue this relationship. We saw each other every day to where I was spending a lot of time at his house. I was working at a gas station and he insisted on driving me to work using my truck so he can clean it. I never had control of my own vehicle. Red flag #2 controlling behavior but I didn't pick up on it since he claimed he was "trying to be romantic."
After the third day of being with this guy he's already saying I love you. Red flag #3 saying those words way way way too early. As time went by we would get into arguments over who I was talking to. I informed him from day one that I have a lot of guy friends and I don't do well with jealousy. He would insist I left my phone with him when I went to go shower I would come back to it I found he was downloading porn on my phone. Red flag #4 anytime we would have sex he always has to watch porn. His personality quickly changed. Where he found an old check book of mine and insisted that we used it to put gas in my truck. Keep in mind when I was driving myself before this guy a tank of gas would last 2 weeks now with this guy I was lucky if it lasted 3 days.
At this time the fights were frequent. We fought about me sleeping all day (I was working 3rd shift), how I made him feel dumb (I'm not super smart but I'm intelligent enough), and other stupid things. He manipulated me making me feel guilty for everything that had been mentioned. He would never compliment me, he'd mention how good other girls looked, he also hated that I cut my hair short.
Please share more about how you felt during the time of the abuse and what happened or changed to help you start taking steps to get out of the situation?
I felt trapped. He had control and I was weak against him. Why? I wasn't attractive to him, he had NO redeeming qualities about him, he didn't even have a job. I couldn't talk to anyone about what I felt and what I was going through. I had to put on a mask and pretend everything was okay when it wasn't. I couldn't see what the big picture was like because I was in it. I feared him.
The moment I knew I needed to get out was after he put me in a situation where I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After a trip to the laundrymat, he wouldn’t help me get the bags of clothes in the bed of my truck (my truck was a big truck) and [I started thinking about] how horrible he treated me the night before after I asked him why can't I drive my own vehicle and how it angered me that he would text and drive. I knew that I needed to end it. We get back to my apartment and I told him I had enough. We fought more and he ended up calling the cops. The police told us its best to cut ties and not to contact each other. I was very okay with that. He still continued to message and call me. He would even call me at work saying I owed him money. I didn't owe him a dime.
I lost my support system. The police were called several more times because he wouldn't let me have my property I left at his house, trying to get money from me. They told me that I would have to get a protection order and it was a civil matter. I felt failed. He may not have beaten me but he broke my spirit, made me feel worthless, and had me fear him and the people who were supposed to protect me I felt failed me.
What is life like now that you have gotten out of the abusive situation? How has it become better?
I came a long way. I now have an amazing job at a hotel, I have people who love me and are proud of me. I’m in counseling, and I'm on meds for depression. Everyone's story is different and even though I wasn't hit, the scars of emotional and mental abuse are still very present. I feel I have to tell whoever I'm with who I'm texting or talking to. My self esteem was diminished and it took a lot to get that back. I'm embarrassed of that whole situation but I'm not ashamed to talk about it.
What else would you like to say to any women reading your story who are currently experiencing domestic abuse?
Don't be scared to tell someone what you are going through because more than likely the people around you already know you are in it. You are not dumb or a fool you were blinded by the idea of being in a relationship. Look at the warning signs if any of these look or sound familiar then get out. This is only a small fraction that I dealt with. There was a lot more. If things moved way too fast that’s a bad sign and be alert. Know there's resources and know you are not alone. Once you are out use your negative as a positive and hope your story can help someone else.