My story started with a couple of dates and an amazing connection!
After talking to each other for hours while sharing a pizza, I realized how much we actually had in common. Since that first date we were seeing each other more and more and our feelings for each other started growing by the day. The turning point where as well the mental manipulation started, was when he came clean to me about him having cheated on his ex. Of course, it was shocking to me and I didn’t expect it from him, but it as well gave me a lot of trust in his honesty.

But after this, the more we were working towards a serious relationship, the more jealous he became of me. He kept asking about my intentions with certain male co-workers and asked me to put my social media accounts on private. For me this really wasn’t a big deal at that time if that made him feel better about the relationship. But these kinds of situations kept happening and eventually he asked for the code of my phone, again I had nothing to hide so I didn’t really care about giving it to him. After he got the code of my phone he had read and deleted all messages in my phone that I have ever had with guys. He told me what he did and I became so angry and wanted to lash out about how this behaviour was unacceptable, but at that time we were on a holiday with my family and he knew I wouldn’t cause drama with other people being there. Now that I am out of this relationship, he obviously knew during that holiday he basically could do anything without me putting him back into place. During this holiday he as well secretly took nude pictures of me when I had gotten out of the shower, which I figured out myself a while later. From this confrontation onward, the fights have gotten bigger and unfortunately as well physical. He absolutely couldn’t control his anger and took it out on our furniture, but the week after it was my turn…For me it felt so surrealistic, because to the outside world and in public he was this perfect decent guy but behind closed doors he was a monster. In my head I started comparing it with and angelic and devilish side. After every fight or anger outbreak he always started crying and apologising saying he needed help and didn’t know how to stop this. Something a lot of people struggle to understand is how much mental manipulation went on before the actual danger started. You are literally brainwashed. It is like every time he breaks you down and replaces a piece of you with a piece of him, and at some point, you don’t even recognise yourself anymore.

Anyways, I really loved him and wanted to help him control himself, and even offered to join him to therapy sessions that he promised to undertake. Of course, this never happened at all and I began to realize that I was sort of stuck in this relationship and had no clue how to get out in a save way. I started noticing this clearly, when as soon as we had a fight all I did was trying not to say anything to upset him and look for ways to escape. Living became surviving.
During this time, I was staying at his place a lot, I even had to go clubbing with him and his friends because I absolutely wasn’t allowed to do this with my friends anymore, while he thought my friends were stupid. There was this one situation that I remember vividly, where I was with him and his friends and I wanted to meet my friend. He didn’t allow it but I pushed through and got very angry again! A girl that was with one of his friends took me to the side and asked me if he hurted me physically in any way, I nodded my head… This felt sooo empowering and I told two of his other friends as well. They told me that they heard this story before from the girl before me but that at that time they didn’t took it serious but now they absolutely will. After he figured I started telling people, causing the violence not to be a secret anymore, he started to become super sweet to me. Even though I shouldn’t have done it, I still went home with him after this incident. I really think that during our relationship his mom and sister were very aware of what he did as well. His mom continuously asked if our relationship was going well, and then she started talking about that his dad was violent to her when they still were together.

After another fight where he pushed me so hard against the bathroom wall that I felt like I had to scratch him in order to escape and be save, he followed me into the room and ripped of my clothes while his knee was on my throat. At that moment I started screaming as hard as I could while I feared this could be the end for me. We thought we were home alone, but apparently his sister was home but just screamed: Shut up! So, I knew I was on my own at that point. Not asking for help happened another fight as well, where during the night after clubbing he pushed me into the water next to the road and I started crying. Just when it had happened, I saw a police car driving around 50 meters away from me. Everything inside thought I was finally saved and when I wanted to start screaming for help, he whispered to me: ‘You will now come with me without saying a word and we leave!’ Out of fear and shock I did as he said… it is so weird how your brain functions during such a dangerous and toxic situation.
The longer I was in this relationship, the more I started noticing that every time he would visit my parents or something, I would try to evade him and going to my room to paint my nails. Now that I look back on this, this behaviour and alone time kind of was my relaxation during all the tense moments we had. Even in general now that I am out of this relationship, I began to realize how much tension my mind and body were experiencing every day spent with him.

Handling this tension has been the thing I struggled with most to process after the break-up. After the break-up I had non-stop panic attacks or I started crying in the middle of the night. At one point I was so exhausted, that I asked the doctor if he couldn’t prescribe me something that would calm me down. They told me my mind and body were getting rid of all the trauma and tension build during this relationship and that this was a very common trauma process. Eventually I went to a therapist where I started telling my story. During these sessions I realized that at no point I was the crazy one or did I react crazy or stupid.  She told me that this is how the human brain functions in toxic relationships and that it actually is a pattern. From that realization I got better and better. At this moment I still experienced fear when I saw his house, car brand or certain places with memories of the relationship. Now I am very fortunate to say that now this fear isn’t there anymore and this was for me the sign to start sharing my story through Power Circle. My reason is because I really find it important to help others and make them aware what are the red flags, and that your reactions and thought pattern aren’t crazy during such a toxic relationship at all! You are never alone even though it feels like you are at the moment you are in it. I really hope that someone who deals with a situation with violence, comes across my story and realizes that their relationship is similar to my story and that this is not normal and they should leave. This community feeling really is something that I missed during my own experience, while I never came across stories about domestic violence. When you are not aware of domestic violence you will never be able to recognise that you are in it, and this awareness is so important and definitely the first step of deciding to leave.

If after the break-up I had seen my abuser again? Yes, because of course he wanted to talk to me why I told everyone all these ‘lies’ about him abusing me. This meeting was in a restaurant where I used to work and I informed all the staff about the situation, so that when it would get out of hand, they were all ready to call for help. I went in with full make-up and very sexy clothes while he never allowed me to wear it and it felt like an empowering move to show him you can’t control me anymore! When he started talking, he immediately began blaming me of lying and what I did wrong. At that moment I said out loud: ‘What do you expect me to do when you hit women?’. The whole restaurant could hear it and he was so shocked and quiet. After this meeting I haven’t seen him again which makes me very happy while he has a no-contact order. This no-contact order makes me feel more protected and safer, which is why I had the courage to now share my story online as well and to use this experience to help others. The only way how people will learn about domestic violence is if survivors tell their stories and make people more aware. This way, victim blaming will hopefully end as well. His mom told me I was crazy for spreading these stories about her son while during the relationship I knew she knew what he was doing to me. This switch in her judgement sometimes still hurts me, but at the same time it motivates me even more to continue sharing my story.

My most important lessons? Always put you first and create your own happiness, think three times before you decide what someone’s intentions are while sometimes it is not what it seems!