This is going to be a story—a story I wish I could have read several years ago and I think that every young girl should read. In this article, I am going to talk about an emotionally abusive relationship and the impact that it had on my life, livelihood, and wellbeing. I of course, hope that you can’t relate to my experience, but if you can, maybe this is the perspective that you need.
Let me start by saying that I never thought in a million years that I would be in a position like the one I was in. It’s so hard to relate or understand what it’s like to be in an abusive or manipulative relationship until you are in one. I used to always wonder how women would stay with a man who hit her. The answer seems too obvious to an outsider, “get the hell out of there!” But when you’ve built a life with someone, when you have children or animals with them, when the abuse is disguised as love or “passion” you often don’t even realize it’s happening. And if are strong enough to look critically at the situation, you are often depleted of any sense of self-worth or independence that would enable you to walk away.
Being hurt (emotionally or physically) is not something you talk to your friends or family about, you don’t want them thinking poorly of your partner. You know what they are going to tell you to do, and you know that they will judge you for not doing it.
If you are unsure if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, check out my emotional abuse quiz. The questions are informed by research that I have done on this topic along with my personal experiences but it will tell you whether or not you are in an abusive situation
I was a sophomore in college—19 years old (I thought it was old at the time…I might as well have been a child) when I met him. I had just gotten out of a year-long relationship a week or two beforehand and was looking for anything but another boyfriend. College is supposed to be the best years of your life—I wanted to take advantage of the few responsibilities that I had and just have fun. Not to mention I had just broken up with my first semi-serious boyfriend, which at the time was one of the hardest things I ever had to do—and there was no way I was about to do that again.
A power dynamic and big age difference
I had just interviewed for a new job and he (the man whom this story is about) would be my manager. He was about five years older than me. Which…when you are in your late twenties, dating someone five years older than you is not a big deal, but when you are still in your teens it is a huge difference. This not something I understood at the time but came to be a pain point in the relationship we later would develop.
He was charismatic and charming and ended up hiring me for the position. Pretty much immediately we developed a bit of a flirtatious work dynamic that evolved into texting. I don’t even recall how things transpired but I guess the flirtation eventually led to us “hanging out” one night after work.
An allegedly secretive relationship
He didn’t want to take me on a date because he was afraid people at work would see…so he invited me over to watch a movie at his apartment. Sadly, I remember lying to my Grandmother about this later on when she asked what we did for our first date. I told her that he had taken me to dinner when in fact, we sat on his couch (spoiler alert, this is foreshadowing for the rest of the relationship).
This was the first guy I had dated, at my ripe age, who had his own apartment so I was intrigued by that. He offered me beer (since he was old enough to buy it, and I was not) which I graciously accepted.
In front of me was this independent, older guy with a career, who moved to a different state by himself and seemed somewhat put together.
Queue The Red Flags
After the first time we hung out, we began texting frequently and he would ask me to “hang out” almost every day. Keep in mind, this was always in the confines of his apartment, never anywhere in public, and never at my place. At the time I justified it because he didn’t want anyone at work to find out we were seeing each other and because I had a roommate and he did not. However, after several months I found out that everyone at work-including his boss, had known about our “secret” fling (because he had apparently told them) since the first time we saw each other outside of work.
Premature love confessions
It was only a week or so after we started hanging out that he professed in a text message that he was falling in love with me. At this point, we still weren’t even officially dating, we still hadn’t even been on a date. I didn’t see it evolving into a relationship at the time—he was just someone I was talking to for fun. When I politely dodged the statement and did not say it back, he became very angry and would continue to angrily bring up the fact that I wouldn’t say it back to him for weeks after. Eventually, I felt pressured to say it back to get him to stop his nagging and so I did, despite it being disingenuous. This should have been where I raised an eyebrow and turned the other way, but inevitably, I did not.
A previous engagement that ended poorly
One night he mentioned (again, over a text message) that he had something to tell me. He proceeded to tell me that he had been engaged before, in his prior relationship but that she had left him and told him during the breakup that he was too controlling. Again, something I should have taken as a warning sign, but didn’t.
I probed more about this past relationship when we were in person, he explained that his ex had randomly decided to leave him one morning and it was completely out the blue. He complained that she was cheating on him and that he had spent all his money on her— buying her extravagant things like designer clothes, purses, and a car, all of which she allegedly insisted upon. I didn’t know it at the time but this was another thing that should have sent me running.
More Red Flags That I Ignored
These behaviors he mentioned in passing translated into our relationship as well. They had at first seemed very thoughtful and romantic.
Extravagant gifts and messages
While we wouldn’t go on dates, he would randomly surprise me with designer handbags, flowers, gift cards, and other things that made me bat my eyelashes. He would text me all hours of the day, long messages about how he had found his soul mate, couldn’t stop thinking about me and going on and on about how he wanted to marry me, and so on and so forth. Again….something I should have been a little concerned with being only several weeks into a non-relationship but I digress.
The surprise gifts became more intense when he insisted on paying off my $2500 credit card debt, which at the time, was more than I would make in a month. At one point, I met a friend at the mall and he offered to give me his debit card so I could buy whatever I wanted—I graciously declined the offer.
Notably, he wasn’t in a financial position to be doing these things. And honestly, while it seemed thoughtful, it also made me uncomfortable. Men had never spent any money on me and I had to work from the time I was 15 to afford the things that I needed or wanted. I understood the value of money and all that he had invested in me definitely made me feel more obligated to stay with him and make him happy as the relationship progressed.
Moving in together after only a few weeks
Fast forward another week he asked me to move in with him, which against my better judgment, I did. I was having some problems with my current roommate and our lease was going to expire soon, he proposed it as a way to save money and live in a more comfortable situation so I packed my things and moved in.
Getting an animal together
He had heard me mention several times that I love dogs, and I would always joke about wanting a dog (all well knowing it wasn’t a good time in my life to get one). He bought me a puppy. The night we had brought her home, he said to me, “now that we have a dog together, you’re stuck with me.”
The list of these behaviors continues. But as everyone who has been in an abusive relationship would know, the sweet, random acts of kindness that draw you in in the beginning, end up trapping you in the future.
“Now You’re Stuck With Me”
As soon as we moved in together, it was like a switch flipped.
When I met him, I was working two jobs and he insisted that I quit the one where he was not my supervisor.
Controlling behavior and lack of trust
He became resentful of me for being in college. I was a student who only had several hours of classes a day (though I would work most nights) and he was working a 9 to 5 job. I would go to lunch with a girlfriend and he would make comments about how it was selfish for me to be having fun while he was working and “providing for us.” He told me that it made him very uncomfortable if I were to do things with my friends because they were crazy college kids who wanted to party all of the time and were going to try to break us up so I could be single. He also mentioned that he had been cheated on in the past and therefore, had trust issues and would not feel comfortable with me doing many things by myself.
He was always quick to express how he felt about what I would wear, how I would do my hair, the makeup on my face, etc. I would finish getting ready and he would say things like “you’re really going to wear that?” or “I don’t like that on you” or he would just make a disgusted face. I noticed several pieces of my clothes also “disappeared” randomly.
I don’t think that I received a compliment from him the entire relationship. As it continued, I developed many insecurities that I never had before. He pointed out things I never noticed like my eyebrows being janky, my nose being crooked, my shoulders being broad and my forehead being too big. The only comments that he ever made about me were to make fun of or address those things. He even got his family to start joking around and calling me “eyebrows” or “shoulders.” My mom and stepdad acknowledged at one point that they found it odd that he would often make fun of me in front of them.
I developed a lot of issues with my body image during the relationship. I went into it in the best shape of my life with muscles and abs, lean body fat, and quickly became extremely insecure about my body. He told me that I didn’t have the body to wear tank tops or short shorts (these were coincidentally, the items that mysteriously vanished from my closet) so he “kindly” bought me tons of long leggings and workout jackets that he expected me to wear to the gym. I would keep the clothes on the entire time despite being on the verge of heatstroke because I was afraid people would make fun of me if I took them off (now that I was incredibly insecure) and because he wanted me to wear them.
Pressure to not take care of myself
Despite him making comments about my figure, he would also pressure me to eat substantially more than I normally would. We would order a pizza and if I only ate one or two slices he would tell me I was being wasteful and needed to eat more. To no surprise, this trend resulted in me gaining about 15 pounds over the course of the relationship which continued to fuel the insecurities. I even had tried repeatedly to throw up after meals but my gag reflex (or lack thereof) would not allow it.
In Too Deep
At this point, I am living with this guy who I guess is now my boyfriend with our two dogs (long story-we ended up getting another one weeks after he got me the puppy…but it’s not relevant to this post). Because the relationship was still pretty new, I enjoyed spending time with him and was still entertained by the idea of the relationship—an older, established guy who loved me and I was sharing an apartment with. And I sympathized with the fact he had “crazy exes” and been cheated on in the past so I justified giving up my social life for him. At this point, I started alienating my friends, and my family (to a less severe degree).
I would have to make excuses about why I couldn’t do things with my friends or why I couldn’t drive 20 minutes to see my family if he couldn’t come with me.
The rest of my college career flashed before my eyes and felt nothing like college at all. Despite going to a university where most people lived on campus and were engrossed in the whole “college experience,” I only was on campus or around people my age for the classes themselves. After class was dismissed I would hurry back to my fortress where I sought entertainment that my significant other would approve of. This included joining an MLM and starting a beauty blog (although that’s perhaps one of the positive things I got from the relationship).
Things fell into a cycle, I would wake up early to work on my projects, go to class, go to the gym (with him, of course), go to work (where he was my employer) and do it all over again. The weekends were spent sitting on the couch with him if not working on one of my side hustles, which seemed to be my only outlet.
“Surprise” visits at work
Eventually, I was able to pick up another job working at the M.A.C counter at Nordstrom. My beauty blog and interest in makeup drew me to the opportunity and he ended up supporting it. This was more time-intensive than my other job, which ended up being great for me. It was my only dose of freedom and therefore, probably was a large reason the relationship lasted as long as it did. Although, at my new job, he would often spontaneously stop by to “surprise me.” It was sweet at the time but now seems like it was just a way to make sure I was where I was supposed to be.
My beauty blog eventually ended up generating revenue and becoming more time-consuming so he encouraged me to quit my job to focus on that, which I was ecstatic to do. He also bought me a $1500 DSLR camera to take my pictures and videos, which was thoughtful. But now I would be home with him even more than ever before and there was yet one more expensive thing to add to the list of financial investments he made on my behalf.
Never doing anything
Even now, we are publicly dating and I no longer worked with him—yet we still never did anything together other than sit on the couch. He would complain that it was too expensive to go to a movie or to go to dinner when I would have been happy with just a hike or playing board games with friends—but I didn’t have any more friends at that point.
He also became insistent that we get joint bank accounts. But thankfully, I would always decline.
The New “Normal”
He began regularly buying beer (which I still was not legally able to drink) and we both would drink it. Eventually, that morphed into him purchasing hard liquor. He loved whiskey and I did not. He would buy a 5th and encourage me to drink some (presumably so he could justify doing it himself.) He would make me a Jack and coke and I would fall asleep on the couch before it was finished. But somehow the bottle would drain quickly (as he would stay up late continuing to drink). The fifth of whiskey every week eventually morphed into a handle every couple of days. When I became old enough to drink I would opt for wine instead of whiskey and he would become upset when I didn’t want more than a glass. As you can imagine, his love for whiskey and refusal to drink alone turned into me drinking more than a healthy person should, especially considering that I was underage for three years of the relationship.
We would often argue, even at the beginning of the relationship but the fights progressively got worse and more intense. It started as him being upset when I didn’t text him back fast enough or not telling him “I love you” often enough. But it evolved into cheating accusations or constant reminders that he had that he spent all his money on me and therefore, couldn’t afford anything for himself. The finger was always pointed at me, I was the reason he was unhappy, broke, and insecure. He would complain every day about how he hated his job, it was unfair that I wasn’t working a 9–5 job like he was
Every time I would object to something he did, the mirror would be turned back to me —if I didn’t do x,y,z or if I was more a,b,c it never would have happened. I had caught him in a lie a few times (it was always about something minor) but he would be so determined to not admit that he was wrong that he would say things like “wow I can’t believe you don’t trust me” or “how terrible of you to accuse me of lying, I guess you don’t know me at all.”
I gradually grew more and more uncertain about the relationship and became more and more unhappy. But my lack of confidence suppressed any considerations that I could find another partner. And the recurring reminders he would voice about everything he had done for me and all the money he had spent on me, made me feel like I was indebted to him. Therefore, I felt like I could never leave if he didn’t want me to. On top of that, I became close with his family, who I adored, and the thought of losing them was more painful than the thought of me losing my boyfriend himself.
As I mentioned earlier, at the very beginning of our relationship he had told me he wanted to marry me, but beyond that, marriage was never something that was discussed between us. I was in college and not at a point in my life where I wanted to consider legally committing myself to someone.
At one point he had mentioned that if he ever proposed to someone and they said no, he would break up with them. I believe that was in response to a movie or tangent conversation but beyond that, the topics of marriage or an engagement were never discussed.
There was a time I saw a message pop up on his phone, it was from the family jeweler and the thought crossed my mind that he may be planning a proposal. But he had bought me jewelry before and I ended up dismissing it, I figured he may be buying me a graduation present or something. So I never brought it up to him. But I thought that there was no way he could propose without talking to me about it first or getting my ring size, asking what I liked, etc.
As soon as I graduated college, he reserved a nice hotel in Sedona, Arizona—this was the first trip we had taken together in the entire relationship except to visit his family, and the only time we really did anything besides stay at home, go grocery shopping or occasionally stop at buffalo wild wings for lunch. He had scheduled a 6-course dinner for us. (I found out after the fact that his dad actually had arranged all of it, but that’s beside the point.) In the middle of the dinner, he proposed.
By the way, for anyone wondering, there was still not a compliment given or nice thing said about me during the proposal, the only words out of his mouth were “we have been together for 2 years, will you marry me…” somewhat underwhelming but I digress.
I saw him look behind me and found that his family had come to witness the event, and were filming and taking photos. Out of impulse and because there seemed to be no alternative, I said yes and accepted the ring. Per nightly tradition, he ended up buying whiskey that was consumed in the hotel room after the fact. He was upset and complained that I didn’t cry during the proposal.
His family had kindly surprised me with a wedding planning basket to which the reality of my decision began to sink in. I had accepted that this was going to be my life sitting on the couch with him every night as he drank whiskey for the rest of our lives.
Becoming an Adult
Now that I had graduated college, it was time for me to get a “big girl job.” After a month of applying and interviewing at multiple places, I had received two offers. One of the opportunities was for a digital marketing firm in a town called Lehi, Utah (I had never heard of it either) but it was right outside of Salt Lake City. This job interested me the most and I was especially enticed by the fact that it was out of state.
Scenario A: my now-fiancé would stay in Colorado for a while until he found another job opportunity or until I got enough experience to get something close to him and I would get the space and perspective that I needed.
Scenario B: he would quit the job he hated and complained about all of the time and pursue going into the military which he had been considering for a while at this point.
Both seemed like a better alternative to the current situation so I accepted the job and scenario B ended up being the option that was chosen.
He quit his job and moved to Utah with me where he planned to start applying for officer training school and he would work something to get by in the meantime. Weeks went by, months went by and he still didn’t have a job, he still hadn’t applied to officer school. I would go to work during the day and would come home to find that he had not even applied anywhere. I became obligated to support us both financially, all while it felt like he was not even trying to find something. I would work all day, come home to cook dinner, and spend the evenings applying for jobs on his behalf. He would become angry if I brought it up to him about it so I made his resume, wrote his cover letters, and handled the applications without consulting him. I found out that he didn’t even show up for some of the interviews I had gotten him. He eventually got a job as an assistant manager at a tire shop right by the house. This is where things really took a turn for the worse.
The Beginning of The End
He progressively began to hate his job (allegedly, even more than the last one) and every day would accuse me of ruining his life by making him quit his other job and move to a state that he also hated.
For those of you who haven’t been, Utah is one of the most beautiful states in the country and has countless free or incredibly cheap outdoor activities to enjoy. But once again, every weekend was spent doing, you guessed it…nothing! I would ask if we could go hiking and he would find an excuse why he didn’t want to go or he would complain that we would be “putting too many miles on the cars” or “spending too much on gas” if we were to ever leave the house. His new job required him to work Saturdays and because he wasn’t comfortable with me doing anything without him, I would spend the day home alone by myself.
My colleagues would always ask how the weekend was and what we did and my answer was always the same, “nothing much.” They would always seem disappointed. Eventually, someone had remarked, “why don’t you guys ever do anything? You’re young, no kids. I am surprised you never go out or explore the state.” I justified it by explaining that he didn’t want to spend money or made some sort of excuse and someone else at work said “do you realize you’re engaged to a nazi?” I brushed it off at the time but that statement started to ring in my head in a few short months.
The drinking continued-and for the record, Utah makes this surprisingly difficult to do. The fighting got worse. My mom and stepdad (both of whom I grew up with) would fight constantly growing up so I think I normalized this somehow in my head and told myself that this is what happens when you settle down. I had expressed my concern with his behavior, my unhappiness, and asked him to try and change. He would turn the mirror on me, start yelling and nothing would ever change.
I was making more than twice as much as he was (and I wasn’t making much) so I continued to pay the rent, utilities and buy the groceries. He paid for the phone bills and car insurance. Despite him not making much money, he would still spontaneously buy me random things (that I would object to) and then he would complain that he was spending too much money on me.
It began to be almost weekly that someone would ask me how the wedding planning was going or if I had a date yet. I hadn’t thought at all about a wedding, I think I knew that there would never be one. He tried to get me to go to the courthouse with him and make it “official” and told me that we could figure out the wedding later. I thankfully, did not oblige.
Because he worked Saturdays, he would have a day off during the week where I would have to work. I remember one night I expressed I was going to bed, he told me that he was going to stay up since he had the next day off. I woke up in the middle of the night to noise and opened my eyes to find him stumbling into the bedroom, running into the walls, and hiccuping. I felt sick to my stomach. Coming from a family of alcoholics, I think this is when I saw my future flash before my eyes. This was going to be my life. It was then I knew what I had to do.
The Breakup Part 1
I started acting distant, unsure of how I was going to say the words I knew I needed to say. I didn’t have a plan of what I was going to do, how I was going to get out of it. We were living together. I knew it was going to break his heart and I also knew that he was in a fragile mental state which meant that I had to be even more thoughtful about how I did it. We had built a life together—at 22, three and a half years seems like a long time, and it was. We had dogs together, he had quit his job and moved out of state for me. I was basically the only thing that he had going for him.
I started to reach out to people I knew asking for advice. One of the people was a long-time guy-friend that I had worked with for years prior. He often would reach out to me for relationship advice and vis versa. I had mentioned his name once to my boyfriend /now- fiancé / soon to be ex-fiancé and he had clung onto the name and randomly in the middle of a fight would scream “go be with [insert guy friend’s name here] then” or “why don’t you go date [insert my then-boss that was 10 years older than me with a wife and kids here].” Side note, this was very common for him to accuse me of liking or wanting to sleep with random men—any that I had any prior or current contact with.
Knowing how possessive and insecure he was, I changed my guy friend’s name in my phone to a girl’s name. I acknowledge fault and wrongdoing here but I was terrified of what would happen if he saw my guy friend’s name pop up on my phone. And I didn’t want to provoke snooping, which already happened often, especially when the contents of the messages were about how I should break up with him.
Part of this was probably because I was immature at the time, paired with the fact that I avoided hard conversations and never had to be direct with people. But I made a point to act differently in hopes that he would initiate the conversation I wouldn’t have to. It worked. He sat me down and asked what was going on. I told him that I wasn’t sure about where things were at with us and that I need to get some space. He burst into tears. I told him I wanted to go to Colorado to see my family and he pleaded to come with me. I told him I needed some time to myself and that that was the only way to do it. My employer was kind enough to let me work remotely for a bit so I could figure things out and I drove back home by myself.
The Breakup Part 2
When I got there, I felt a wave of relief. I felt like I had escaped entrapment that I never knew realized was happening. He had been tracking my location on my phone and from the minute I arrived, he began calling me repeatedly back to back to back. I had my phone on silent in my bag as I gave my family hugs and hellos. This was the first time I had seen them by myself in the past three and a half years. By the time I was done acquainting with my family, I had over 20 missed calls from him along with strings of text messages.
“So now you’re just going to ignore me”
“I can’t do this without you”
“Let me come to Colorado, please”
“You’re going to find my truck in a ditch when you get back and never see me again”
“I am going to go missing”
“Is there someone that can take the dogs”
“You’re the only thing that makes me happy, how could you do this”
“Should I just tell my parents the wedding is off”
“Is there someone else?”
“Did you go there just to party?”
I turned off my location services so that this behavior wouldn’t persist and sent a text message to his dad, expressing my concern for his well-being (provoked by prior behaviors as well as the suicidal threats.)
I turned off my phone
The next morning, another string of text messages
“I love you”
“Wow I can’t believe you talked to my dad”
“My mom is crying over this”
“Just tell me if you want to break up”
“Just do it already”
“You can’t even afford to live without me”
“What are you going to do without me”
The list goes on…
He was working that morning and my phone continued to buzz all morning long with him telling me to just break up with him already, to just do it.
I told him that that was a conversation I wanted to have in person.
Again, probably provoked by my immaturity at the time paired with the fact that he was working and presumably couldn’t talk on the phone I responded (via text) saying that I came here for clarity and the fact that he couldn’t even let me have the time I needed was confirmation that I needed to end things. I explained all of the other circumstantial factors that were playing a part in my feeling this way primarily the fact that I was young and just needed some time to be by myself, etc. I tried to make it about me rather than about him. He started trying to Facetime me….while he was at work.
I answered. I could barely hear what he was saying through his sobs but he continued to allude to the fact he was going to commit suicide. I tried my best to talk him off a ledge but kindly asked that he move out of the house before I got back (After all, I was the one paying the rent). I wanted to avoid seeing him after the fact because I knew that he would go to extreme measures to get me to give him another chance and I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to hold my ground. I asked my boss if I could stay in Colorado and work remotely for longer so he had time to give notice at his job, which I assumed he would do. I had left the ring in the drawer of my nightstand and told him that he could retrieve it there.
He insisted on taking the dogs because “I had already taken everything else from him” to which I agreed and for the first time on the call, burst into tears.
The Clarity I Needed
While I was in Colorado, I got a taste of the life I had been missing out on for all of those years. I reached out to some of my childhood friends and met them out for drinks. Since being 21, this was the first time I had had a drink with anyone other than him. And it was the first time I had ever even been to a bar since legally being able to go. I had more fun just being around friends and people my age than I had since I had meeting him. I started to see that there were many other men in the world, some of which I could swear were actually looking at me….
I went on hikes with my family, hung out with my friends and I felt like I was having the time of my life. All while he was still calling every minute, texting me, asking where I was, what I was doing. Everything was simultaneously affirming my decision to leave—the taste of freedom, his continued efforts to control me.
It was the day before I needed to be back in the office, I texted him to confirm that he would be out of the house when I got back. To which he remarked, “wait..you were serious about that?” It turns out he hadn’t even put in his notice at work. I couldn’t ask for more time to work remotely, my office had already been accommodating enough and I had an in-person client meeting that I need to be at. I ended up booking a hotel to stay in and gave him a date (two weeks from then) where I expected him to be out of the house. Eventually, a coworker offered to let me stay with her and her husband to which I graciously accepted.
I stopped by when I knew he would be working to grab a few of my things and to say a very hard and heartfelt “goodbye” to the dogs—who I could tell had missed me. Somehow he knew that I had been there because he said later, “I know you came by earlier.” He insisted on meeting in person to talk. He needed closure and he deserved to hear it from me in person after all the years we spent together. I agreed to meet him in public. I refused to go back to the house or be alone with him, I was terrified of being trapped again or what he might do. I said a final goodbye, explained my reasoning for leaving, and let him know that I had gotten my own phone and car insurance plan. I paid him for any fees that were outstanding on the plans he held.
He asked if there was anything he could do to change my mind, to which I shook my head no. It was incredibly hard to see him so hurt, after all we had been through together. But now that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I knew I couldn’t turn back. I left that conversation sad but feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
That was the last time I ever saw him, but his efforts didn’t stop there. I couldn’t even listen to music at the gym because my phone would continue to ring repeatedly. He would send me texts begging me to talk to him, asking where I was. He even went through my call logs to see who I had been talking to. He asked me about my guy friend (whose name I had changed in my phone) because he saw that we had been texting. I sent him a screenshot of the contact (with the girl’s name) to try and put him at ease. He ended up calling all of the numbers in my call log and found out that that contact was in fact, not a girl, which spawned more anger, panic, and confusion for him. Understandably so. He called my dad (whom he was not particularly close with), insisting on an intervention.
This behavior continued—repeated phone calls, frantic text messages paired with suicidal threats. I finally sent an email to his family who I imagine was very confused over the whole breakup, the last they had heard we were going to be getting married. I tried, in so many words to explain the breakup (without putting the blame on their son) while also calling out the concerning behavior (the excessive drinking, suicidal threats, and clearly depressive behavior) so that someone could keep an extra eye on him while I could not. I felt like I was the only one with the context that they needed to give him the care he deserved. The email was not well received. I got a response back that was very targeted toward my character—explaining that I was selfish, conceited, heartless, that my leaving was the best thing to ever happen to them, etc. And honestly, it was extremely hurtful coming from people who I saw as family. There were cheating allegations in there (presumably provoked by the deceiving phone contact). I still sometimes lay awake at night while excerpts from that email dance in my head. But yet again, my decision to leave was affirmed.
He finally went on to block me across all mediums and we never spoke again.
Takeaways and Conclusions
It’s easy to get into an emotionally abusive or unhealthy situation but it is incredibly difficult to get out of one. For more signs of emotional abuse, check out this article or take my emotional abuse test to see if you are a victim. There are many resources out there to help you get out of a bad situation. I have listed some here:
After the breakup, I was able to move across the country by myself, advance my career and find an incredible man who is now my husband. He never raises his voice at me, trusts me, gives me the freedom to do what I want, takes me to do fun things, is sweet and complimentary. I have experienced all of the facets of a relationship that I never thought I would find. The grass is always greener on the other side if you are in an unhealthy situation so just take the jump and trust that you will land on your feet. You will be so thankful that you did.