Life is So Much More

by Zoe

My story is one that many women will have heard before. I started seeing someone else because I was in a relationship where I was no longer happy. I didn't know how to tell the guy who I had been with for so long that we were no longer in love. The months passed in this new relationship. I felt addicted. It was almost too good to be true, but there had already been warning signs within the first month. I just hadn't seen them.

I had Facebook. He told me I would delete it, and I would not have any contact with my old friends whom I made when I was with Kieran. I thought this was a loving behavior, but now I realize differently. As time went on, his abuse became worse. He bathed in control. He started to grab me and hold my wrists together almost so tightly that they would bruise. I thought again that this was normal and that I deserved this because I had started the argument. I didn't. I was better than this.

I fell into a hole of depression as I had moved out of my parent's house and moved in with my cousin. My parent's home was close to where this guy lived. Again, this was another request he made for me to move out of my parents' house, and I did it. He told me it would set me free and make me happier. It didn't. I moved all my stuff out and moved in with the other side of my family. He lived just up the road.

My controlling partner and I would meet daily. He would come first thing in the morning before going off to study. Then he would ask me to go and meet him after his day had ended. Throughout the days, I was jobless, and I was penniless. He would text me to tell me not to wear anything too "showy" or too "revealing," as he did not want anyone else to "eye me up." I would then try my best to please him with my clothing choices. I had always been fashionable or what I thought was fashionable anyway. I was regularly into my clothes and into looking good and wearing makeup. When I was with him, he took this all away from me. I didn't see it coming at all. The sweet, lovable guy who I had met was turning into and out of this horrible monster, daily.

I remember the incident one day, a hot very sunny summers day; I wore a dress, it was a maxi dress, figure-hugging, but not too much of course. We went to the park with his friend and his girlfriend, playing happily around. I thought this day was perfect despite everything he had previously told me. As the afternoon came to an end, he informed me we would be going back to my cousin's house for me to get changed, as he hated what I was wearing because everyone in the park could see everything, my whole body. I was dressed perfectly suitable for this hot summers day. Now, you know what a winter Parka coat looks like? Well, we arrived back at my cousin's home, and he told me to put that cover on, as it would hide the shape of my behind and shape of my curvy body. It was nearly 30 degrees Celsius outside, and he wanted me to wear this and do it all the way up. I obliged. We walked back to his house and his family thought I was ill because I was in a coat. I told them I was, as didn't want to alarm them of what he had been telling me to do. He would turn into this monster and the next he would be the guy I remembered.

We one day went to his mum's house up-country. She was just as wicked, and I suppose that's where he got his abusive ways. I remember this day well. I was in his brother's room, which I was staying in while we were there and I had a bracelet on, one that he had given me as a Christmas present from our first Christmas together. He had asked me to make a boiled egg for his baby sister, and I had already told him I would be there in 5 as I wanted to get myself sorted and changed. Within a split second, he rushed into the room, hitting me with the door as he ran in with such force. He pulled my wrist, which had the bracelet on that then broke into tiny pieces. He grabbed my other hand and squeezed, shouting "I ALREADY TOLD YOU... GET DOWNSTAIRS AND MAKE THE FOOD!" I was shocked. I then started to cry. He pushed me back towards the bunk beds in that room and smashed my body into the metal frame. I felt my ribs crash into the side of the bed. I could hardly believe what was happening at this moment. He slammed the door as he walked out and downstairs. I was scared and shocked all at the same time. I knew he had used force before, but this was too much. As I cleaned myself up and wiped the tears from my face, I walked downstairs someone had already made the boiled egg. I was late. This had angered him. I stayed downstairs and pretended everything was ok. Hindsight is a fantastic thing, I should've packed my suitcase and headed home to where I was safe and where I didn't have to see him, but I stayed. I was stupid but scared.

I also thought I loved him. After his outbursts, he would expect me to be ready to have sex with him. He would tug my leggings down like I was a toy for his use. If I didn't oblige or feel in the mood, he would shove me away and punch me in the side, which he knew he had hurt against the bed.

That night, the physically abusive assailant cried so much and told me he hated me. He said that I had done this to him, that I had made him the way he was. I was disgusted and equally as upset. The next day we all headed home.

Now, I have not previously mentioned that at the age of 15 I had been raped by a guy who I had then thought was my friend. And, several years on, three to be exact, I was still suffering from rage and nausea just from thinking about the sexual assault by no fault of my own. I got so upset one day that I decided, stupidly, that I would tell my abusive partner about it, as I thought he would support me.

"You make me fucking sick," he told me as he grabbed my hair. "How could you do this to me? SHUT UP, SHUT YOUR MOUTH YOU W****." He raged on.

In fact every time I had a bad dream about it or had a moment where it crossed my mind he would tell me the same thing. Vile words would flow out of his mouth as naturally as breathing. I felt truly broken. I never thought someone, even him, could be so cruel. He told me I was a liar. He called me names I would never think anyone would call a rape victim.

Near the end of our relationship, I began to retaliate. I wore things that I knew my partner would hate, things I used to wear, like shorts on a hot day, vests, or figure-hugging outfits. I had also reconnected with my family again, and this angered him. He hated them, especially my mum. No one had any idea of what he was putting me through. They thought I was gobby and rude towards him when in reality I had had enough of the poison he had given me and the toxic life he had given me for the past year.

Eventually, he was accepted to a university study and asked to move away up-country. He asked me to go with him, and even after everything, I tried to get money, a loan, anything, to be able to go with him. I tried to get my parents to help me too. I was 18 with no job bear in mind. It came to the time where he was moving away and I couldn't go with him. I weirdly felt heartbroken. Continuing love is the thing I knew would happen to an abused person. The perpetrator would harm the victim, and the victim would still feel love or what I thought was love, towards the abuser. A week later, I was given a way out. My parents asked me to move back into their house. I accepted. This guy settled elsewhere. I was sad but knew I had to push on with my life. I relocated back home. The days were hard, but I got on with it, applying for new jobs and getting used to family life again.

One night, I got invited out with old friends and knew I would love to go. It was nearly my 19th birthday and I wanted to reconnect with all my loving friends before then. It was great, such a liberating feeling that I had walked out and got the power back over my own life. I felt amazing. I was healing and finding the old love I had lost with friends and family.

My 19th birthday came around. I had invited everyone into town with me for drinks. I had been speaking to a lad called Jack who I knew from school. We had always had a soft spot for each other. He told me he wasn't going to be out the same night as all of us, and I felt deflated. The hours passed and I was having a great time, I spotted someone out of the corner of my eye. It was jack. He told me he just had to see me as it was my birthday and we spent some time talking and catching up. We agreed later on that night to exchange numbers and see where this would take us. I was over the moon. We had found each other. Finally.

A few days later, I went to meet him, we relaxed and talked all day. This was the start of my new life. Three years on we are still going strong and every day I remind myself I am a strong, powerful, and beautiful woman. He makes me feel this way. The feeling is what keeps me going in my everyday life. I am finally regaining control over my depression and misery. We are happy. I found strength in me that I thought I had lost and the flame inside me that was always lit, which was tested so many times by that monster who tried to put it out. I was better than that sadness. I had known it all along. I just had to search deep down to believe it.

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