I Believe in the After Effects

One Teen's Story of an Abusive Relationship

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He held my arm to the chair after I told him no. At this point I was quietly begging in a room full of about twenty kids, but because he had me sit in the back of the class with him, only he could hear my quiet whimpers. He bit my upper arm so hard it nearly bled. The bruise was so large and dark, when my parents questioned it, I told them my arm got slammed into a metal door. They Believed it.

Everyone’s main focus is usually on the abuse in a relationship. Most people’s mindset is ‘If they get out of the toxic relationship, then they’ll be fine’ which isn’t the case with everyone. The after effects of abuse, both mental and physical, can be extremely intense. People who have gone through this understand how it sticks with them.

I remember my daily schedule that I had to follow. I would have to get up early and be to school by 7:00am. I would have to text him when I got there and head upstairs to wait for him. I couldn’t hang out with friends unless he gave me permission. He never liked the idea of me having friends; everyone was a threat in his eyes because I’m bi-sexual. I would sit on the cold floor of the upper 300 building alone – most of the time he got to school late or never even came to get me, but waiting there alone was better than him finding out that I wasn’t upstairs.

Dealing with that made me a loner. I thought that if I had to be alone, I’d teach myself to enjoy it, so that is exactly what I did. I began losing myself in novels telling stories of magic and love. To this day I’m still pretty anti-social. I still lose myself in books to escape and I still get anxious talking to people because it still feels like his discouraging eyes glare at me.

There was a time in the beginning of the relationship when I wouldn’t let him boss me around. I don’t remember when it was that everything changed, but I do remember what he would say to attempt to get what he wanted. He always had a way of telling me that he was the only person who could love me without saying it directly. He brought up how certain people made me feel awful and how it’s good that he was my number one and could never make me feel like that. Hearing this over and over made me feel bad if he upset me and it made me feel like I would have to hold it in if he ever did upset me. Guilt tripping was something he was always good at.

If I were asked now why I fell for such a stupid trick or why I couldn’t see what he was doing sooner, I still wouldn’t be able to give an answer. No one warned me that I could be manipulated by the one I thought I was supposed to trust the most. If I could have figured it out sooner, I would have. Because of this, I still have trouble articulating how I feel to other people, especially if it could upset someone.

I still remember the way he touched my back or gripped my arms and shoulders when I was in trouble with him. How I could have been in a conversation with someone and he would come up behind me and grab me. His grip was sharp; it never physically hurt me, but it made me so scared that it could pull me into panic attacks. This classic interaction from him is what haunts me the most. If people touch me on my back or shoulders without warning, I tend to panic.

About once a month I would try and break up with him. I would think, “This is it, I’m standing up for myself”, but he would tell me that if I left that he would kill himself. He told me I was his only reason for living, so I stayed.

My bruised arm raised questions at a family event. I told them that when I was walking to class, my arm got slammed into the metal doors. The bruise was so large and discolored that it seemed possible. I felt bad lying to my parents, but I didn’t want to raise hell at a Christmas party.

After we broke up, I realized what he did was wrong and came out about it, telling my parents and a close friend. It backfired when he was confronted about it and he said that I was just lying to seek attention and the bruise was from myself because “I bruise easy”.

Going through this was hard and later I received help. I still struggle with these things to this day and I continue to work on myself everyday. Just because I got out of the toxic relationship, doesn’t mean I automatically got better. I don’t want to be misunderstood, I’m not trying to say that people assume others are okay after a toxic relationship. What I am trying to say is that the after effects of abuse are not focused on enough.

I believe that the after effects of abuse should not be overlooked. I was not okay when I left the relationship, I am not okay now, but it is okay to not be okay and continuously work to get better. That is exactly what I’m doing.

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