Relationship Violence Story by Dania
"At this point, you can say it has been years."
His words echoed. His words froze time. There was no argument to justify the feelings. There is never an argument for the truth, only questions that could never be answered. Staring into the silence, everything that had happened "years" ago felt as if it had only just begun.
I still remember the sun beating on my face as I waited for the camp bus. At the young age of thirteen, I was convinced that if I wanted to, I could conquer the world. Racing to the bus, searching for a familiar face to sit next to, I was welcomed by the warmth of his smile.
Every girl at camp wanted to be his "girlfriend." Before I knew it, I became the luckiest girl; I was Zach's girlfriend. Zach was only a year older, but much more experienced than I ever thought a boy his age could be. Deep down, it intimidated me, but the thrill and excitement of something so new was enough to lure me. Feeling so mature, I was ready to spend the rest of my life with him. We fell in love that summer, so young and so naïve.
After six blissful months, he proposed with such charisma that I accepted in oblivion to the terror that would haunt my daily existence. That night, a diamond ring kept my mouth shut when he violently stole my innocence. I learned the hard way that having my own opinion was no longer an option. Through physical, sexual, and mental abuse, he established his dominance.
Although love is not blind, it has a way of altering one's perspective. I loved him; I thought I could help him. Everything I did was always wrong, and he was always right. Fighting him would only result in near fatal consequences. Severely brainwashed, I lived in denial as things became unfathomably worse. I could not accept the living nightmare my life had become. It was my fault that our relationship was failing. I would do anything to keep us together because we were "in love."
Once a social butterfly, my adventurous wings had been shred, and I remained in captivity. I was forced to detach from everything and everyone I loved, while he proved himself to be unfaithful and wildly promiscuous. After three and a half years of hell, I was a suicidal anorexic, gasping for air and suffering in silence. I gazed down upon the beautiful diamond ring, the symbol of our commitment and love for one another. Nothing made sense anymore.
Four summers from the summer we fell in love, I was working as a lifeguard at that very camp. Zach was not only my fiancé, but he was also my boss, "the pool director." I barely talked to anyone because I wasn't allowed. Zach could flirt with every girl, cross all the lines, and even cheat on me. If I caught him or said a word, he would beat me. If another guy even looked at me, he would beat me. If I spoke to a girl, he would beat me. He would beat me whenever and however he wanted to. He didn't love me as much as he loved the idea of me, someone who would do anything he wanted.
That summer, I rebelled. I began to lie to him in order to make friends and separate myself from him. I would tell him I was sick or sleeping, and then go out to a friend's house just to feel "normal." In July, he broke up with me during one of his typical temper tantrums. For the first time, I didn't beg for him to stay with me. For the first time, I felt a moment of liberation. Within twenty-four hours, he was calling me, crying to me, and begging for me to be with him. It felt so good to have the power. I had been done with the bastard's shit but could never admit it to myself. I moved on without hesitation, feeling strong and in control.
I began partying, drinking, flirting with new guys. I had a few "flings" and I finally had friends. Zach never really disappeared though. The back of my mind kept questioning myself. If I went back to him, would he be a good boyfriend at the chance of losing me again? Or would things be even worse than before?
In an attempt to escape from reality, I fled with my best friend, Danielle, and her family on vacation. Zach was getting angrier every day that I refused to be with him, but I wasn't giving in to his games anymore. I lied and told him I was going away to a dance camp. I knew better than to tell him the truth. I was ready to enjoy life, and then suddenly everything in my world seemed to fall apart.
While I was on vacation, I began to ignore Zach's phone calls. He was getting angrier, and although I didn't show it, I was shaking with fear. Zach called my house and tricked my mother into telling him where I was. Suddenly, I was waking up to 100 missed phone calls and text message threats completely filling my inbox. He had gone completely psychotic. He threatened my life, Danielle's life, and his own. I attempted to deal with his threats on my own, but his threats only became worse. Soon, the treats turned into blackmail. He made it more than clear, that if I didn't go back to him, he would post and send 256 nude, sexual, and degrading photographs he had taken of me. I played the game for as long as I could, but the blackmail became too much to deal with. I changed my phone number so he would stop contacting me. I believed it would all just go away. I didn't believe he was disgusting enough to actually pursue his threats.
Days later, he had hacked into my email and instant messaging accounts and changed the passwords. He sent the photographs to my parents, my father's business, every teacher in my school district, and all of my friends through A.I.M. I was pretending it hadn't happened. Danielle's mother found the website and immediately called my parents. I had been exposed. Everything was now out in the open, and all I could do was explain the twisted mess I had gotten myself into. I was finally forced to face reality.
Six months later, I went to court against him for harassment and defamation. Unfortunately, the trial was considered a juvenile case because the events occurred when we were both under the age of 18. In order to even have a judge take my case, I was forced to write about my experience. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I won that court case, but I didn't take him to court for me. I went to court so that he could never hurt anyone else like he hurt me. A no contact order was issued, and I finally thought that he was out of my life for good. I received "justice," but no punishment or fine would erase the damage he caused.
It disturbs me that as the "victim," I was never notified that the day after I turned 18 years old, the no contact order was officially over. How was I supposed to know that until then, he was being given a "probation period?" He was notified, and shortly after my 18th birthday, the stalking began again. This time, he couldn't control me. It had been almost 2 years and I was no longer the innocent little girl that let him scare me into a corner of silence. Messages he found a way to write me were immediately reported to the police. Unfortunately, I still have yet to get a real restraining order. But after all, as anyone can tell you, that restraining order is nothing but a piece of paper. When he wants me dead, I will be.
Even though he tainted my life, he did not destroy me. I found love, a true love. Rob watched me agonize through Zach's threats, he watched me piece my life back together, he understood me and listened to me like no one else could. Rob is the best thing to ever happen to me. He respects women, he knows the difference between right and wrong, he is a man. Like every couple, Rob and I have our fights, but we also have a mutual understanding of what the word, 'love' means and requires.
Tonight, we are fighting. Staring out at the road as he drives, he says with reason, softly, "You're infatuated with him."
How do I respond to that? Rob doesn't care about other people's opinions or thoughts on him, making him much happier than I am. It's not infatuation. I don't even know what it is. Perhaps I am still seeking answers for my questions.
After BSing a response to try and explain how I feel about the events that occurred in my life, he says so bluntly, "At this point, you can say it has been years."
It has been years; it's time to move on.
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