I was in an emotionally abusive relationship at the tender age of twelve. My boyfriend built me up to break me down, and when he broke my heart he kept coming back to tell me how much he loved me. Finally one day, years later, I realized he was emotionally abusive and that I deserved better. I had really thought he cared about me.
I was in an abusive relationship from age 22 to 24. What made me leave was giving birth to twin girls and realizing that they were going to grow up in a household where their parents fought and were abusive just like I grew up in. My love for them gave me the strength to leave so that their life could be better. I also didn't want my girls to learn how to love an abusive man like I learned in my childhood. Staying with an abusive partner for the child's wellbeing is like feeding them poison for their health. Also I was hardly ever happy and you can't properly take care of your children when you aren't happy.
My father died & going through that gave me the strength to leave
I was in a toxic/ emotionally abusive relationship -- and while many of these played a role (particularly finding out that the person in question had a pattern of abusing others the way she was me), the big one for me was opening up to other friends about what was happening. The abuse (and the relationship) were so entrenched in silence and secrets that it was much easier to view it all as "normal." When I began telling other people that I trusted things she had said, done, or expected of me -- even in a flippant way -- their responses helped wake me up to how wrong it really was. Seeing my friends' shock at what had become normal for me helped me to finally face that it wasn't normal. And hearing them tell me that they would not still be there for her (not in a judgmental "why haven't you left" way, but in a "I couldn't put up with it" way) helped me to realize that I was not, as I'd thought, a bad person if I decided I was ready to be done.
I was in an very unhealthy relationship (non-abusive) but for three years I thought it was normal and healthy. It wasn't until I was away on an international family holiday without him for a month that I realised I didn't love him anymore. I called it off almost as soon as I got home, but it took another couple of months before I fully understood how unhealthy the relationship was, and how much of a jerk he was to me.
I ticked "Letting go of attachment to "good times" and putting more weight on the bad times" because that was exactly what I did while sitting in a rental car for many hours. I went over the last several years of being with him and I noticed that the good times were much fewer than the bad. I realised just how many times he had disregarded my opinion or belittled me. And most importantly, I decided that I couldn't be with anyone who is so latently homophobic and racist.
This is almost the same process that I went through with the unhealthy relationship I was in for a year at age 14/15. I was away at a summer camp for a week and realized I wasn't in love anymore and I felt stifled; after getting home, it took me two months to realize it had been a sexually unhealthy, emotionally manipulative and codependent relationship.
I chose "Having the opportunity to get something I wanted in life, but my relationship stood in the way of." because it was the tighter and tighter restrictions of seeing friends, going out, etc. that put the most stress on me and triggered the idea that something really wasn't right.
Aside from that, however, these are the main reasons I finally worked up the courage to leave:
-Supportive friends who listened and told me that some of the things he did wasn't right.
-Realizing I was hiding increasingly more of my activities from him for fear of ridicule.
-Depression. I became more depressed and anxious as the weeks went on and the activities I instinctively did to make myself feel better (spending time with good friends, for example) were not the "right" decisions for him.
-More demands on me sexually that I wasn't willing to give into.
Thank you for asking this important question.
I started to notice that my emotionally abusive girlfriend at the time didn't treat my friends well. It took noticing that to get perspective on how she treated me.
I was stupid enough to end up in a physically/emotionally abusive reletionship when I was 13 (with a 19 year old, no less) it went on for a few months before another older guy friend noticed what was happening. (The bruises and cuts were pretty obvious. Took someone long enough) He talked to me, and ended things for me. He also was glued to my hip for the next few weeks because my ex was following me, but left me alone when guy #2 was around.
In my experience, if you know someone in this kind of reletionship, they need you. They need your help, and they may need you to interfere directly.
Just a reminder for you, Rockie, or anyone else who needs it.
Smarts, alas, really often aren't an issue with winding up in abuse. Winding up in abuse is rarely about being stupid.
The way most abuse dynamics work, people get into these relationships, and attached to them BEFORE abuse begins, mostly because abusive people are smart enough to know that if they start relationships that way, the other person will most likely not stick around. Then, once the patterns of abuse kick in, and the cycle starts spinning over time, a person being abused deals with all the manipulation, blame put on them, and decrease to their self-esteem usually involved in abuse.
And that can make even the smartest of people both unable to clearly see what's happening and make people feel very stuck.
Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col
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