I sat across the table from her after I helped her light her cigarette. “He wasn’t always like this. Emotional abuse like you call it wasn’t his thing.” was the first thing she said after she exhaled a puff of smoke. Although the room was dark, I could see the haze. I said nothing, I just wanted to listen.
“He was amazing. When we met, he did everything right. He was sweet, he bought me everything I wanted, never even raised his voice at me. All my friends loved him. My sister told me after she met him “Kiara, you’ve hit the jackpot.” I thought I had found the one you know? We moved in together.
She paused and I saw her hand tremble briefly.
“It was great for a few months but then one day we were arguing and he called me a slut. When he said it, I felt a wave of shock wash over me. I was stunned. I remember walking to my room, picking up my purse and walking out. I just jumped in my car and took a drive to clear my head. When I came home he told me he was sorry and it would never happen again. He was so apologetic and he’d never done it before so I thought it wouldn’t happen again. Everyone makes mistakes.
She looked up at me and I saw that her brown eyes were filled with tears.
Then she said in almost a whisper “I should have left and never looked back. It only got worse…”
Let’s talk about what is happening to Kiara. It’s an insidious problem affecting many women in relationships around the world. Abuse. What is abuse? Abuse is a pattern of behavior in a relationship which is carried out in order to control and manipulate you. Being in an abusive relationship can make you feel as though something is amiss but you’re not quite sure what it is. Abuse can be emotional, physical or even financial. Sometimes it can be all. Emotional abuse always comes before physical abuse but emotional abuse may not always lead to physical abuse. So what are some of the signs of abuse?
- Sudden bursts of explosive anger from your partner over trivial matters.
- Belittling or criticizing you whether subtly or overtly.
- Controlling where you go and who you see and an unhealthy obsession with your whereabouts
- Being possessive and annoyed when you want to spend time with friends.
- Difficulty respecting your boundaries and anger when you say ‘no’ to requests.
- Feeling like something is wrong but it’s all your fault.
These are just a few of the signs. Abuse is a consistent pattern of behavior that intimidates you and makes you feel unsafe or even crazy sometimes. Abuse is not someone getting angry and raising their voice in a heated argument. Someone getting angry a lot and raising their voice at you every time a difficult conversation is had might be an abuser. Especially if you tell him that behavior upsets you and he carries on doing it.
A Fuckboy is an Abuser. #Maybehedoesnthityou is an excellent hashtag on Twitter started by Bad Dominicana on emotional abuse and the things emotional abusers do. My posts on Fuckboys highlight some of their behavior and their mindset. My goal this year is to educate women on emotional abuse and how to recognize it.
If you’ve got a friend who you suspect is in an abusive relationship, send her this post. If you’re in an abusive relationship, there’s help out there. Tell your friends or family. You may not want to leave now but one day you will. You are beautiful and amazing. Don’t believe the lies he tells you.
So what happened to Kiara you might be wondering. I’ll tell you.
“Can I have a glass of Merlot while I wait?” I said to the waiter. Kiara was running late again. She walked in wearing a flowery dress with some strappy heels. She was smiling and she looked like she’d lost some weight but it suited her.
“Hey! Sorry I’m late!” she said to me after giving me a hug.
“How are you?” I asked her. She smiled and said “I feel great. I left him some months back.” “So that’s why you look so good!” I said laughing. “Ha! Tell me about it!” she replied. “I feel at peace. I don’t have nightmares anymore. I’m working out and everyday I feel like my old happy self.”
“I’m happy for you. What made you leave?” I asked.
“It was something my therapist said. She told me to imagine myself 5 years from now and if I would still want to be dealing with him as he is. I thought oh hell no. After that it became easier and I imagined myself more and more without him. And I realized I felt better. So I was done.”