Sunday, 8 July 2018

I'm a Survivor

(TW: gaslighting, ableism, physical assault, sexual assault)

For a while, I've been thinking about writing a blog post about an abusive relationship I was in years ago. I did write on an anonymous blog a while back, but I'm finally feeling like I shouldn't need to hide what happened to me. It was not my fault.

When I first got ill, I was at university and I had already been dating someone for a month or so. Let's call him "A". He seemed lovely. "A real gentleman" I used to say. We both thought that my illness was a short term one, and it was him who encouraged me to go to the doctor. He was very supportive, and seemed to share the same frustrations as me, when the doctor fobbed me off. As the months went on, and I got worse instead of better, the support died down. I was still undiagnosed, and had started to miss lectures, cancel dates last minute, go out of the house less. I was in pain, exhausted, extremely nauseous, and very dizzy. I pushed myself as much as I could, but I couldn't deny that I wasn't able to do as much. One particular date was to a very nice & expensive restaurant, and I had to cancel 20 minutes beforehand. Instead of being understanding, A seemed very annoyed, as if I'd done this on purpose. He often made me feel like this, and I hated it.

When I had to miss more lectures, A started making nasty comments to me (even in front of my friends). He would tell me I should stop "skiving" and that if I carried on, I would fail my degree. The longer I was ill, the less he would believe I was ill. I think in his eyes, you take pills and get better quickly. And that if I didn't have a diagnosis, I wasn't *really* ill.

I found he was quite hypocritical too. He expected me to come to him; as opposed to him coming to me. He wouldn't make any allowances, and everything appeared to be on his terms. I could've really done with some help, but he offered none. I didn't see any point in asking. One time, he was ill with the flu. It was a day when we were supposed to go to a BBQ with some friends. He rang me up on the day, and asked me to go to the shop and pick up some supplies for him (pain meds, soup etc). I struggled to get there, but did it anyway. I would go to the BBQ afterwards. I heated up his soup for him, got him a drink, made sure he had everything he needed and could rest. He really didn't look well, and appeared to want some space after he'd eaten. I checked he had everything he needed, then said my goodbyes and went on my way. Everything seemed fine.

In later arguments (usually about my illness) he would bring up this day as a sort of "dig" at me. He would say that I barely did a thing for him "all you did was heat up some soup!" and that I was in a hurry to get away from him, and go to the BBQ to see my friends.

Similar arguments followed; involving him belittling anything I did, twisting my words, denying things that had happened, making everything seem my fault, telling me that the friends I'd made through him, were *his* friends, not mine.

When it came to sex, A had quite a few expectations. He was a virgin at the time and believed that, because I was more experienced than him, and because I loved him, I had to prove this by doing whatever sexual things he wanted. I was very reluctant to do some things, due to finding them physically uncomfortable or because of bad experiences. He didn't seem to care, and I was often coerced or tricked into doing things or allowing him to do things. I won't go into detail, but basically he sexually abused me. I didn't know it was sexual abuse at the time though, and his gaslighting made me doubt the validity of my experiences. Now I know better, and can finally say I am a survivor of a psychologically and sexually abusive relationship.

Eventually we broke up. For a little while, he wouldn't leave me alone though. I remember a time when he wanted to meet after a lecture to "talk". He was very persistent, so I reluctantly agreed. We went on a walk, and the usual arguments resumed. A friend of his came up to say hello, and they started chatting. I can't remember exactly what was said, but I said something (friendly, nothing argumentative etc!) and A snapped at me to "shut up". The friend left soon after that (understandably) and we carried on walking. It seemed he wanted to get back together (god knows why), and wouldn't accept that I didn't want to (he didn't like taking "no" for an answer). I told him I was going home, and that the conversation was over. He got very annoyed and started to follow me. I kept telling him to leave me alone, but he grabbed my arms and kept trying to get me to listen to him. The way he was acting honestly scared me. He didn't let go until a friend of mine happened to pass on her way to a lecture, and saw us. I was very panicky and tearful after that, so walked with my friend and somehow got through the lecture.

I made the mistake of speaking up on social media; which resulted in people calling me "crazy", "psycho", "bitch". I felt I couldn't speak up after that.

I am speaking up now though. He has no control over me anymore.

I'm a survivor.

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