I've been there

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An open letter to my ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend:

I dated your boyfriend for three years, but I don't need to tell you that. You already know. I'm sure he's told you about the disintegration of our relationship and how I caused it. By now, you probably know about our constant fighting and my perpetually bipolar emotions.

Yes, I'm sure that's what he's told you about me. I know this because that's what he told everyone about me during our three years together, a time when he claimed to love me more than anyone ever would while telling all our mutual friends how insane I was. He probably hasn't told you about that part, though.

He probably hasn't told you about how he'd hurl his muscular body at mine when he was angry with me, forcing me to the ground regardless of where I was standing. He might have told you about the time he pushed me into an empty bathtub when I tried to leave the bathroom during a fight, but he has likely omitted that anecdote from his retelling of our relationship. I'll also go ahead and assume that he hasn't told you about all the obscene names he called me once the physical abuse stopped. In case you're wondering, he called me stupid, controlling and moody on a daily basis.

If all of this is true, you'll surely ask me, why didn't I leave him? Why didn't I tell anybody? Why haven't I taken a stand yet? I have so many different -- yet all true -- answers to these questions, and I'll do my best to answer as thoroughly as possible.

I was scared. He was bigger than me; if he wanted to, he could have knocked me out with one effortless hit. I did take a stand against the physical abuse after he pushed me to the ground so hard I cut my knee open, telling him that if he didn't stop I would have to leave him.

"I know you don't mean to, but this feels like abuse," I remember saying.

He agreed to stop, but that's when the truly insidious abuse began -- so insidious that I didn't even realize it was happening. From that point forward, he didn't physically attack me at all. He did, however, trap me in rooms when we'd fight by blocking the doorway. I had to push him out of the way if I wanted to get out, which he'd kindly point out "felt like abuse."

He instigated fights, often in a private room at a public party, by bringing up subjects that he knew upset me. When I predictably became upset, he would tell me how stupid and wrong I was. During all this, he didn't scream. After all, there were people outside the door who might overhear us. Because of this, all they overheard was me hysterically crying.

I didn't realize this at the time -- in fact, this is very fresh knowledge -- but he would tell all our mutual friends that I was just an emotional person when they quizzed him about the fight. He told one of my friends, who I recently reconnected with, that I was just crazy and he didn't know what to do about me. I didn't realize that he was slowly alienating me from my friends because he did it behind my back.

I didn't realize that he was still abusing me because he didn't physically hurt me anymore. We broke up a year ago and I'm still realizing just how poorly he treated me. My job, which allows me to write about various topics in Carroll County, has helped me realize the extent of the abuse even better. I attended a domestic violence forum this past month and discovered just how textbook the abuse was. I looked over the article about Victor Acuna-Sanchez's conviction for murdering Laura Aceves, who he had abused for a long period of time before the murder, and discovered just how lucky I am to be alive.

I hope he hasn't pushed you into an empty bathtub yet. I hope he hasn't told you that you are stupid yet. Most importantly, I hope that when he does these things -- because he will -- you will get out sooner than I did.

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Samantha Jones is a reporter for the Carroll County News. Her email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com