It took me a long time to get to where I am now. I parted ways with my abuser (kind of) about 7 years ago. At times I feel like I can forgive and that I am at peace with everything, but that is rare and fleeting. I realized I had been abused 4 months after I moved, and I did not realize till 6 months ago that I was still suffering from PTSD. Before I only thought about PTSD associated with rape and war. This healing process has been long and slow but I would like to say before I share my story that I am lucky and have a wonderful husband and a beautiful little boy now. I am at peace with the life I have, but not yet at peace with what I lost. Here is my abuse story:
I did not date in high school at all. I left home never having even held a guys hand. I was religious but I was not prudish. I was from a small town with limited options, and the boys had little interest in me and I in them. I did have many guy friends. I was well liked by most people, not popular, but well received. I was a runner too, and was going to a two year school on scholarship. I was looking forward to being on my own and to dating. I did go to the college with my twin sister, we both were going to be on the team. I was happy to share this experience with her. We sometimes fought but we trusted each other and were best friends.
I met a guy who happened to be on the track team with me, and we started dating quickly after school started. We were both the same religion. He was charming and handsome. I thought I had hit gold. I invited my sister a long to hang out most of the time since, hello, ‘sisters before misters’. I should have seen the signs of abuse, but I did not know signs of emotional abuse, I did not even know it was a thing. Many on the team knew we were dating but few others, he would not tell his family and I only told a few sisters (I have many siblings).
Things got physical very quickly. I hated myself for it since I had hoped to wait to have sex till I was married, I am a bit old fashioned. He had told be he had wanted to do the same. Earlier, I had told him I was molested as a child and made to watch porn. I had shared with him that I felt as a child I was more worried about sex that most since I had been exposed young and that it had been a difficult obstacle for me. I had never told anyone else besides my twin this. He turned that against me and said I should have told him that earlier and that we had sex because of my overtly sexual nature that I had hid from him.
He also would show me pictures of his ex girlfriends and talk about how beautiful they were and that I was lucky to have a guy that could get girls like that. We rarely went on public dates since he did not want people to think he was dating a 13 year old. I did look quite young for my age. For some reason I believed everything he said. I thought I was lucky, I thought that he would look weird holding my hand at the mall.
After a few months we both decided a break would be good, well he did. He wanted us to pray and make sure we should date since and that we should take a break to cool down our physical relationship that we both felt guilty about. I agreed to do this. We did this often for months. He kept asking for “breaks” that lasted like 2 days. It was NOT a break-up. One day on the way home from a track meet he told me he could not stand being away from me and that he just loved being around me. I thought he was finally ready to stop taking breaks and date normally. I was wrong.
The next morning he told me he liked my twin sister and that they had been physical as well. But it was not cheating because he only got with her on “breaks”. I was devastated. They used my religious beliefs, my love for both of them as well, to convince me to forgive them and to not tell anyone. I also thought since I could not get away from them due to the fact she was my twin and both were my teammates I would try to make the best of it. I told them we all three would just have to be friends and nothing more, they agreed.
He still told me he wanted me and that he liked me more than my twin. I believed him and we started being physical again. I would like to point out I was not acting in a way I liked or understood but emotional abuse causes you to not behave how you would normally. He also was physical with my twin. Soon though it became that he never had liked me and that I had forced him into dating me and that he only ever loved my twin. I was told I was crazy and bitchy and so on everyday. They told me that they cared for me and that if I did not change no one would love me. They said they told me these things out of love so that I would realize how terrible I truly was on the inside. I was confused, hurt, and lost. I was so angry at my twin, I never thought she would do any of these things. I felt physical pain in my chest every night from the emotional abuse. I did not sleep and I cried the whole night every night. I wanted someone to see past my mask in public but I also feared someone figuring out I was being fake.
The abuse got worse and worse. All in all I was with my abuser 2 years and my twin was part of the abuse for 18 months of it. I did not just leave as survivor. I left because I was going to a different college. The last month they would not speak to me, luckily that gave me some air to see a glimmer of truth, not about myself, I loathed myself and felt truly that I was everything they said. But I did leave with telling them it was not my fault that we would never get along from this point on, it was theirs.
They have gotten married now. I have told most of my family but they do not understand emotional abuse. Most feel I am jealous to not have gotten the guy (my ex). Which is not at all true. They also feel I need to “take the high road”, that I need to patch it up because she is my twin. I thought I kept their secret to protect them but it was not necessary since they all still like him. I do not talk to them. I I feel pain everytime I see a family member talking to him like he is a normal part of the family. They have been married 5 years and I still feel like vomiting knowing my abuser is part of my family, that he took my twin from me, and that my family members like him. They have even poisoned a few sisters against me. But I do not have to hide like the do. I am me, and even if I cannot see it for myself I know I am happier with who I am and what I have done than they are.
Emotional abuse is real, it is damaging and it is hell during and after it. It has taken years to understand what I do now, and I want others to know that they are not alone in what they feel. You are not crazy, you are amazing.
Original Post on Forget Me Not’s Advocacy site.