I pulled at the car door; it wouldn’t open. I looked back at him. His blood shot eyes drilled deep into mine. He held my wrist tighter as he tried to push his face on mine. I looked away. He began forcing himself on me again. I tried pulling away. I jerked at the door and tried unlocking it. He kept re-locking it. He grabbed both wrists, turned me around, and pulled my arms around my back. He pushed my face against the car window –
“Don’t you love me? Come on, just once. It won’t hurt.”
My muscles went loose. He let go thinking he had convinced me. I quickly unlocked the door and ran out. He ran around the car and came after me. I was shivering in fear. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. I ran into my car and locked it. I sat there for a second, listening to him bang against my car window yelling every possible obscenity in the English language.
This had never happened between us before. But it wasn’t unexpected. The guy my parents absolutely despised was the only guy I thought would ever love me. I thought I was in love. At 16, I thought I had found my soul mate. Years later, I sit here laughing at myself – what a naïve idiot. What the hell was I thinking?
That night I remember driving away, getting home, running to my room and crying. I had been dating this guy for eight months and he had wanted it for nine. He began asking more and more often during the three months prior to the incident. He would tell me to dress “more sexy” (aka show more cleavage and rock drag queen amounts of makeup). He wanted me to turn into his personal possession, something he could do whatever he wanted with. He had probably cheated on me multiple times during that eight-month period, we would break up almost every Friday morning and he would ask me to be his every Monday morning. I would blindly take him back without ever raising any questions. I neglected to accept the facts because I had convinced myself he loved me. Of course he loves me, I thought. How dare anyone doubt it? I was pathetic. So much so that I would sing along to Akon’s song “Don’t Matter” thinking the lyrics spoke to me.
Rape Culture: Stuck in a Cycle of Abuse
I don’t regret dating him. I regret what I did the morning after the incident — I forgave him. I thought it was my fault for bringing the worst out of him. Regardless, he began pulling away from me, emotionally abusing me, telling me I wasn’t pretty enough, telling me I wasn’t sexy enough; and telling me everyone else was doing it. Even after that night, he tried multiple times to force himself into me. I didn’t let him even though I was afraid of losing him. A few months later, the day after Valentine’s Day, I woke up to a message on AIM. It read somewhat like this:
Yo. I met this chick last night. don’t try talkin to me again. ight…peace.
For months to follow, I tried everything I could to get him back. And so, I let the cycle continue. I kept letting him back into my life well into freshman year of college when I finally shut the door on his lies once and for all.
My sadness turned into anger which later turned into forgiveness and a positive learning experience about rape culture. I forgave him, but never bothered letting him into my life again. I had become cynical and trusting people became difficult, but in the end, I survived. I lived past it and what had seemed like the most earth-shattering experience of my life at the moment now feels like a little hiccup. I am on the path to self-love, a gift no one can ever take away from me. I can now proudly look at myself in the mirror and see a strong, confident woman smiling back at me.
A Message for My Sisters
Abusive relationships can be blinding when you are in them. It is easy to feel like you deserve to be treated the way you are because your self confidence is completely shattered by the one person you trust the most, your partner. While it often felt as though the world was against me, the only way I was able to move forward was through the support of loved ones, especially friends. I know it is hard to get out of the cycle, especially when it feels like finding love is impossible, but step back and truly reflect on all you have to offer the world. Be proud and don’t let anyone shatter you.
Stand Up Against Rape Culture
If you are currently in an abusive relationship, or know someone who might be, RAINN is an excellent resource.