FreeWrite No. 3: Staring at My Reflection

I stared at me, and me stared back. 

At that point in time, I had lost track. 

My blues eyes looked empty, a void of emotion, 

My life was going through erosion. 

As the wind and rain break down the Earth, 

That’s how I felt. 

Slowly being beaten down by every hiccup in life, every heart break, every bad decision. 

I attracted the ones with the least precision. 

They didn’t rip my heart out, they didn’t care that much. 

The only thing they had was my pussy in clutch. 

I was too blind, too dumb to see that the reason they were there wasn’t for me. 

I was a husk of a human, no emotion, no tears, 

And it was then that I realized, that this was my fear.

I needed to be loved, I needed to be held. 

But what happened was, I got de-shelled. 

I was a husk of a human, no emotions, no fears, 

But the damage? To recoup? It would take years. 

All I wanted was to be cared for, was to be looked after, 

All I got were the high school boys’ heckling laughter. 

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FreeWrite No. 2: That’s the Last Time I saw Her

She surprised me. Like the shock of a jellyfish, eye opening and painful.

I wasn’t like this.

This isn’t me.

And from that moment I saw her, it took me seven years to be free.

She was always present, but never around. Not in the lunchroom or in the hall. Her photos confused me, but made my heart fall.

But… I wasn’t like this.

This isn’t me.

That flicker of light was blown out by heteronormativity.

I’d see her twice a year, three if the stars aligned, at this point in life I’d love to rewind, just because she had a perfect smile and skills to match.

She was a winner, but too hard to catch.

That year in high school was coming to a close. And it was the last stand off.

Home field advantage. But we never won.

I watched her walk away, the last time I saw her… Not even knowing she was my “someone”.

Photo Credit: Eiko Jones, August 23, 2016, taken while on a night dive in Tahsis, B.C. 

Breathe

Don’t hold your breath, breathe with me. Focus in your mind.. One. Two. Three.

I will always protect you, I will always be here. Don’t cry, don’t be afraid, don’t worry my dear. 

When your world feels unstable; like a splitting ice shelf. I will always keep you safe, even from your own self. 

Wrong Place, Wrong Time:

A response to “I wasn’t One of the Four” 

I was incorrect.

Over the six months being separated from my ex-boyfriend Michael, I did a lot of soul searching and critical thinking of the relationship that we had shared over two years. I feel as if it is vital to not only my integrity of the truth, but also my credibility as a writer to admit that I was wrong about the situation that I explained in “I Wasn’t One of the Four.” 

With that being said I also want the public to realize that the article I had written prior to this was not composed of false truths or written out of vengeance. I was only trying to explore the situation through my lens as a writer and come to terms with myself about what had happened throughout my relationship with him. I also really want to press the fact that I did not write it for the purpose of the revenge–being in the confused state that I was in, thinking I had been abused (and being an avid feminist), I only wanted to be able to reach out to other women who I believed may have been in the same situation I had been in. 

With that said, I now will explain what I found out had really happened during Michael and I’s time together. 

————————————————-

We met as bright-eyed bushy-tailed freshmen in the dorms during our first semester of college (typical right?). After the first conversation we had–which was two hours long–I knew that he was going to be a large part of my life in one way or another, and later he divulged that he had felt the same way.

I do not believe in love at first sight, but I believe in human connections.

After we met things escalated quickly, we began spending most of our time together and sleeping in one another’s dorm rooms (our poor roommates). We pressed the idea of “no labels” and explained to our friends that we were just two people who were attracted to one another and spending time together (there was some monogamy involved)…but soon we finally made things “official.” Pretty sure it was even FBO by that point.

The semester flew by, as they always seem to do the older you get, and soon we were packing up to go home for 5 weeks of Christmas break (woo!). Our last night in the dorms Michael and I stayed the night together, and the next day the goodbye was heartbreaking… when I drove out of the parking lot watching him wave in my review mirror I suddenly had a terrible feeling in my stomach, like something bad was going to happen.

And it did.

Michael (being the strapping rugby/football player he was) had his nose broken several times during high school, which gave him terrible sleep apnea (I swear, the first night I stayed with him his snoring was near deal breaker point). So, he had a tonsillectomy/deviated septum surgery scheduled during the break.

The surgery went swimmingly; however, a few days later he had an adverse reaction to his pain medication and ended up aspirating into his lungs, which left him without oxygen for 15 minutes. His mother found him and began chest compressions and screamed to call for an ambulance (I was later told). This was the message I woke up to that morning from his younger sister:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.42.53 AM

I drove 303 miles to the hospital where he was laying in the ICU in a little over 2 hours, which is a drive that would normally take someone closer to 5 hours.

In a nutshell: Michael was rushed to the ER where the physician promptly told his parents to contact their priest, for he was not sure if he would be able to resuscitate him. Michael ended up in the ICU on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. After he woke up Michael had no brain damage whatsoever and both the nurses and the ER physician were shocked because they had thought he wasn’t going to make it.

Michael experienced a miracle.

However, after his accident is when things began to become difficult for the two of us. Michael did not come back to school the follow semester due to the occupational/emotional therapy he had to attend. We then made a conscious decision as a couple to begin our long distance relationship. And we made it, the second semester ended with tens of thousands of text messages sent, thousands of miles travelled, hundreds of hours spent on the phone, and 2,628 minutes spent on FaceTime–which ends up equalling out to approximately 43.8 hours.

Michael moved back and began taking classes that summer, it was the moment we had been waiting so patiently for for 5 months… but our high hopes were only diminished as things became worse.

Michael being less than 10 miles from me at all times definitely messed up my perception of the time we should have been spending together, after being so committed to the long distance relationship we had been in. I constantly felt as if I had to make up for lost time and being used to being in contact with him 24/7 started to scramble my brain like the eggs you had for breakfast.

I didn’t realize that it was okay not to be in constant communication with him all of the time. I didn’t realize that it was okay that he didn’t spend the night every single day, or even the fact that he might not want to. I didn’t realize it was okay to lead separate lives and still be together. And this is where the problem began… I couldn’t stand not having some sort of his attention all throughout the day, I couldn’t stand to be without him. I was later told that this was a form of PTSD and that my body went into the fight or flight mode every time I was without him. I was literally so terrified to lose him again that my body would physically shut down. But at that moment in time neither of us knew that, the only thing I knew was that I couldn’t physically be without him for more than an hour, and he knew he loved me but felt I was being overbearing.

Which I was.

As humans we develop our attachment styles as children by the age of 2 due to the environment we grow up in. Growing up with divorced parents skewed my attachment style, but Michael’s accident pushed it over the edge. At the time, if I had the option to surgically attach myself to him…. I probably would have, just so I didn’t have to be without him and I would always know that he was okay.

The form of constant overbearing love I was giving out of anxiety continued for six months, which ended up driving us both crazy. Soon I found myself in counseling and on medication because I knew how much my behavior was affecting our relationship, and I wanted to fix it… I just desperately wanted things to be normal for us.

Unfortunately, they never were.

Things between the two of us consistently got worse. I will probably never know the exact reason why our relationship failed– whether it was due to the lying that was being done, the tears that were being shed, or the constant stress put on us while we were just trying to figure out how to be a “normal” functioning couple.

Throughout our roller coaster of a relationship we lost friends, the support of each other’s parents, and just the basic trust of everyone around us. We sucked every individual in our lives into our deep pool of problems like a sinkhole, and one after the other every single person became involved or intertwined in our relationship, which only made it worse.

The more we broke up and got back together (which the number of times is lost to me now) the more we were burning bridges that we didn’t realize had even caught flame, until things became so complicated that we felt as if we were stranded in cinders due to all the connections that had been damaged.

———————————–

Our relationship was toxic, it was never abusive.

There were those in my life that were convinced I was being abused, and I was so afraid of falling into the next generation of battered women in my family that I began to believe them. However, I was never afraid of Michael, and according to the domestic violence counselor I saw after the breakup that is a sure sign of the absence of abuse. When I was told that I breathed a sigh of relief and tears began to fall from my eyes. I knew in my heart that I had not been abused, but during that time my brain was telling me that I was just another naive battered woman that couldn’t see the situation she was in.

Michael and I were involved in what is referred to as situational couple violence (SCV), not intimate terrorism (aka abuse). There is a striking difference between SCV and abuse, SCV typically erupts from heated conflicts that get out of hand. It occurs when both partners are angry and is tied to specific arguments, so it is only occasional and usually mild. It is also often mutual, with both partners angrily impulsively flying out of control. Abuse on the other hand, which is referred to as intimate terrorism, is where one partner uses violence as a tool to control and oppress the other. Compared to SCV intimate terrorism is more likely to be one-sided, escalate over time, and involve serious injury to it’s target. Women who experience intimate terrorism are those who usually seek refuge shelters, although many of them don’t due to the fear projected on them by their partners.

Millennials, I believe as a generation, don’t even know what a distinctly “normal” relationship looks like. We have grown up being fed fairy tales along with horror stories–we may find our prince charming, but we will probably just get divorced. So it’s no wonder that extra stress has been put on us in the realm of the dating world; thus, the world of tinder, friends with benefits, and unlabeled relationships were born.

We live in a world of miscommunication at it’s finest and as we progress we begin to lose even the simple concept of having a straightforward conversation, which ultimately creates conflict. On top of the fact that we can no longer communicate with one another, we are also the generation most effected by divorce. So not only do we have difficulty relaying information to one another, but we also don’t even know how a functional relationship operates.

However, there is no excuse for being brutal to one another as Michael and I were. Yes, neither of us knew how to communicate or function in a healthy relationship, but that doesn’t mean what either of us did is excused. I played just as much of a part of it as he did, and it took me 6 months and a load of counseling to realize my own mistakes and to take the responsibility of my actions.

As women, we do have the upper hand when it comes to most relationships, whether that may be in the bedroom or just as the boss of the remote. But on a more serious note in the case of domestic violence. I am in no way doubting that women get abused, or supporting the notion that we should not believe them. I am only stating that women should educate themselves on the signs and cycles of abuse vs. individual occurrences of SCV, because accusing a man of abuse could ultimately ruin his life (which is great if he deserves it). Usually, whether the complaint was a lie, a misunderstanding or actual abuse itself, the courts will take the woman’s side.

Four women do die daily as a direct result of domestic violence. In my previous article I stated that “I thanked God that I wasn’t one of the four.” Other than the obvious reason– of me still being alive–I was right, I wasn’t one of the four. You know why? Because I was never abused.

Whenever we argued, flew into another fight, or were just inexcusably mean to each other we always thought that if we would’ve met at least a year and a half prior than when we did, then things would have worked out. If we only would have had that two hour conversation after his accident maybe we could have made it.

We really were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“All My Single Ladies….Put Your Hands Up!”

It is absolutely everywhere. Every time you scroll through Instagram you come across at least one highly edited photo of a twinkling diamond sitting upon a perfectly manicured hand. After so many engagement announcements on Facebook and wedding invitations in the mail a girl has to think to herself at least once, “Well shit, what the hell am I doing wrong?”

Now, I am not trying to sabotage the happiness of those who are happily wed, for I believe each person has their own choices to make and fates to embrace. However, I, among many others, are one of the single women thinking to themselves, “Am I the only one getting left in the dust?”

Popular culture has tried to convince us that getting married young is the most recent and sought-after trend. Well, I’m sorry about it pop culture, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong.

According to Pew Research, “Barely half of adults ages 18 and older are married—51 percent in 2010, compared with 72 percent in 1960.”

Additionally, the rates of marriage are declining while the average marriage age is rising. The advances and social acceptance of birth control has given women opportunities in careers that they never would’ve dreamed of 60 years ago.

The median age of marriage in the 1960’s were the early 20’s for both men and women, compared to the median age taken in 2011 where women average 27 years-old and men wait to tie the knot until they are 29, said Pew Research.

Nevertheless, I understand completely that every once in a while a woman gets down on herself for being single. I won’t lie, it is lonely and self esteem depleting; however, there are additional studies that say that single women are happier than those who are married.

This is because women find it easier to make life-long meaningful relationships with other women.

According to WebMD, “Men tend to have a certain homophobia about hanging out with another guy . . . For men it’s not so easy to sit down and have coffee or a leisurely dinner with another guy.”

WebMD continues by saying that wives or girlfriends tend to be the main source of emotional support for men, and when the relationship is over they lose that.

The simple solution is girl power. We all know the saying chicks before dicks, but in all seriousness friends are like bras, close to the heart and there for support. There is nothing more therapeutic than a night out with the girls… or even a night in front of the TV.

According to sciencedaily.com, gossip is even emotionally healing, “Although not associated with self-esteem or life satisfaction, higher levels of gossiping were associated with feelings of greater social support.

So long story short, us single women are not necessarily the minority and even more importantly we are slowly coming the majority. To put it simply I know that being single really sucks sometimes, like really sucks; however, it is not something that a tipsy night with the ladies can’t fix

It’s okay to be alone, embrace it! Truly, this is the one time in your life that you don’t have to tend to a stinky husband or screaming kids. Travel, explore, learn, and most importantly enjoy the young life that you have. Single women really have all the power in the world because ultimately we are the ones that call the shots. As Mandy Hale once said, “’Single’ is an opportunity to live life on your own terms and not to apologize.”

Previously published in the Branding Iron

Just Shut the Door and Deadbolt it…Twice

3 tips on how to walk away from the dirtbags in your life forever

Recently I had the chance to tie up some loose ends over winter break. I’m talking high school sweethearts—sorry—let me rephrase that, high school lays that just seemed to follow me around like pieces of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I’ve been graduated for close to three years now and every so often I would hear from one of them, or two, or three. Okay there are three (major ones at least) that had some sort of impact on my life.

There’s no slut shaming here, so if you’re one of those few misogynistic gems just kindly move along.

On top of all of this I also just got out of an extremely unhealthy relationship, also mentioned in my blog here, so needless to say I was ready for a new start. But anyone who has ever had a broken heart or a lost lover knows how hard it is to just walk away.

Now, at the time of fraternization I didn’t view them as simply “lays,” I thought I loved them in some way or another; however, I found myself reevaluating that “love” since I’ve been home. I kept asking myself, “What the hell do I see in these losers?” And I kept coming up with the same answer. Nothing.

They were nobodies; they had no futures other than carpentry (which I am inadvertently attracted to, thanks dad…fuck the electra complex) and drugs. Which I kept trying to tell myself wasn’t that bad . . . it didn’t matter that they were sniffing coke along with drywall dust everyday right?

Oh, and the pièce de résistance of the whole situation was that all three of them had girlfriends. Two of which whom had already cheated on their SOs with me in the past. Classy gents huh?

So, here’s where we cut ties and let these fuckers drift out to sea.

  1. Sit down and create a pro and con list. I mean physically get out the damn paper, because by the time you have gotten through the plethora of cons you will have forgotten half of them. And none of this “It’s a con but I can deal” shit, if you can deal, then it’s not a con. Physically jotting down these lists will help to cement the reasons in your memory. According to Psychology Today writing things down has four advantages: it takes your worries and make them tangible rather than abstract, so you can deal with them; it makes it possible to see connections, so when he ignores your calls and you see pictures of other women plastered all over his instagram, you can finally let go of your hopeless denial and realize he’s a player; it allows you to look at things and let them go, sure he has a nice dimples, but he also does meth…time for you to hit the road; and recording things makes you to remember, so when you begin thinking of all the “pros” this loser seems to have, you can think back to your list and remember that he received a Prince Albert, which went horrible wrong and eats his own toenails.
  1. Next, sit there and actually think about what these dirtbags do for your life. Sure, they may text you once in a while and tell you how beautiful you are, inquiring when you are coming home next. But were they there at your doorstep taking you out when you were in high school? Did they ever meet your parents face-to-face or was he the “sneak in the window type?” Has he given you copious amounts of attention as gentleman should? The answer more than likely is, negative. Just shit can him.
  1. After these first two actions you will be able to realize that this person is nothing but a piece of gum plastered to the bottom of your shoe, ready to be scraped off and disposed of. Think about your future in laws, think about your children, think about the ramifications of being with this person. Once you have finally figured out and accepted that he will probably be in and out of prison the rest of his life, married to the same girl he cheated on with you (who dyes her hair at home and is in need of some serious dental work) turn around and don’t look back, ever. Even though you were always there when he needed you, he never appreciated it and most importantly he never will. Everyday look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are a beautiful, intelligent woman (or man) and that you deserve the absolute best.

Slut Is Only a Four Letter Word

I want you all to brace yourselves before I say this. It may come as a shock to a few, so if you need to take a seat that’s entirely appropriate. Ready? Girls like sex too! I know, it sounds like an urban legend passed through generations of whispers. But I’m about to bust that myth wide open, we are just as much sexual beings as you are fellas. This is not an attempt to take over your testosterone dripping limelight in the realm of fornication, but I would like to work on establishing a niche for women in your universe of copulation.

The stigma comes from the stone-age idea that women are only useful for bearing children and that their sexual pleasure is about as mythical as Rush Limbaugh’s support for women. But, really, what is so bad about a woman indulging in sex? Do men just want to selfishly stow the pleasure away and keep those locker high fives to themselves?

Opposed to popular belief the average age of deflowering in both men and women is surprisingly similar.

According to kinseyinstitute.org, the average age that men lose their v-cards is age 16.9 and women come in hot at 17.4.

However, I feel as if society ignores this similarity and punishes girls for exploring their sexuality, while on the other hand it allows the excuse “boys will be boys.” What does that even mean? That it’s acceptable for men to run around like mindless baboons sniffing out females in heat? Each time a man sleeps with another woman they get another notch in their bedpost and another story to affirm his “stud status.”

Women, on the other hand end up receiving the short end of the stick in this situation (along with every situation for that matter). As soon as a woman even remotely indicates the fact that she is interested in a man she is basically labeled as a slut. However, unbeknownst to most of the public women have kept up with men fairly well when it comes to sexual statistics.

According to kinseyinstitute.org, 2.2 percent e of men ages 18-24 reported having sex four or more times per week, while the percentage of women in the same age group and category came in at 4.9 percent.

This gap between percentages has led to the infamous practice of slut shaming, which degrades and insults a woman for her sexual behavior, dress or taking action in line with her sexuality in general. Slut shaming has implemented a double standard stating that men can engage in sexual behaviors freely, but women should still be waiting for marriage or “true love” to drop their panties. I am not calling women who decide to withhold their sexual feelings to themselves prudish. I am only saying that each woman should be entitled to their own choices pertaining to their sexual behavior without social repercussions.

My only word of advice to the rest of the ladies out there is to not let shit like this bring you down. I understand that being called a slut sounds like nails on a chalkboard and feels like a kick to the ribs; however, it’s only a four-letter word. Embrace your sexuality and look at it more like your personal exploration of the world and everything it holds. Own it, there is nothing to be ashamed of. If men get to revel in the glory of ostentatious numbers of partners then it’s only fair that we get to as well.

And concluding with the wise words of Walt Whitman: “Sex contains all, bodies, souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations, all hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth, all the governments, judges gods.”

Previously published in The Branding Iron

I Wasn’t One of the Four

NOTE: This story has since been updated, please see the new version.

I never had to cover bruises with foundation. I never had to hide a black eye or make excuses for a broken nose. Sure, he yelled at me, but wasn’t that normal? Don’t couples fight? Of course they do, but when you get to the point where you are so belittled that you are even afraid to speak out of turn, there’s a problem. I didn’t realize it was happening, everyone else did. But to me, I was in my own little world where he was the only thing that mattered.

According to loveisrespect.org, “One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.” And I was one of them. I lived two years so blinded by my love and adoration for the man that I was with that I couldn’t even see I was being walked all over and controlled.

When I came to college I was a bright eyed 18 year old who voiced my opinions strongly and always stood up for myself. My voice was taken from me, and instead of being known as K.C. Schooner I became known solely as Michael’s girlfriend

There were red flags in the beginning, but naturally I denied their existence and made excuses for him. “Oh, he called me a slut and slammed the door in my face?” He’s just insecure. “He ditched me and lied to me about spending time with his friends?” He just doesn’t know how to balance his time. “He left me when I needed him the most?” He has his own stresses in life. Everything had an excuse.

He isolated me from everyone that loved me to make sure that he was the only person in my life. My closest friends suddenly became the enemy in my eyes, due to his coercion and his excuse of “They hate me so they are just trying to separate us.” He was my world, so of course I began to question everything out of my best friends mouths. He convinced me that my family was dysfunctional and broken only because I grew up with divorced parents and an alcoholic father. So I stopped seeing them, in Michael’s eyes they were also trying to hold me back from my relationship with him, so they too took a backseat.

My viewpoints on politics, religion, and my future all became opinions I used to have, rather than the opinions I voiced. He always had to be right, and when I challenged him I only got punished with spittle being thrown in my face from his yells and my confidence being torn down by his glares. I learned that agreeing with him only made things easier on myself, and slowly my original viewpoints began to fade away and I began to adopt his as my own.

Emotional abuse is a real thing, and I know that because I’ve lived it, not only that past two years, but also my entire life.

According to safehavenshelter.org, “Many battered women are familiar with the abuse cycle and really don’t see anything wrong with the abuse they are suffering.”

I had grown up with an alcoholic father who physically abused not only my mother, but also myself. Walking on eggshells was a way of life for me for 18 years, just trying to avoid every possible situation that would upset my father. I thought this was what normal couples were, and I found myself in the same situation when I left home.

Michael’s piercing words and risen voice were something I had dealt with everyday as a child, so to me, nothing was new. This was not something I found unusual; however, the people around me began to notice.

My roommate and closest friend Natawsha was the first one that began to realize that something was amiss.

“You began to fade away, the K.C. I had met two years prior was not the same K.C. I knew when you were with Michael. He beat you down so hard that you became a mindless robot; just agreeing with him on everything and doing everything just to make sure he didn’t get upset. You took his side even when you knew he was wrong and never stood up from me. You didn’t see it though, and I knew you didn’t, that’s why I never blamed you for the way you treated me,” she said.

Looking back now, the longer I dated him the more hostile he became and the more I fell into submission. I was living in a world of double standards and confusion, I tried to follow his rules, but even when I did he became angry with me. It was a game I could never win.

Lundy Bancroft, a counselor who has worked for fifteen years on over two thousand cases pertaining to angry and controlling men wrote in his book Why Does He Do That?, that “An abusive man subtly or overtly imposes a system in which he is exempt from the rules and standards that he applies to you.”

When he was angry with me, he convinced everyone I was crazy and told ungodly lies about how my behavior was out of control and how he was getting close to his breaking point. I was in the dark about this until we were separated. I never knew how much he lied about me. I never knew how many awful things he said behind my back. All I knew is that when I found out those things it only broke my heart. He was someone that supposedly loved me, but he was calling me desperate, slutty, and psychotic behind my back. He basically cut all my ties to the outside world, anyone who had relatively liked me before now questioned everything I had ever said.

According to Bancroft, “Although it is largely unconscious, abusive men are more aware on some level that a woman’s social contacts can bring her strength and support that could ultimately enable her to escape his control.”

I became a walking anxiety attack, had to start counseling and get on medication. I never understood what I was doing wrong, so I did everything I thought was right. But nothing changed. The more mentally and emotionally stable I became, the more bitter Michael got. I can’t even count the number of times we separated and got back together.

Up until this point I had taken the yelling, the degrading, the lies, and the control issues for a year and a half hoping that someday he would live up to his promises and “change his behavior.” After I was brought to the realization of all the terrible things he had said behind my back I attempted to leave. I drove over to his apartment, confronted him about the lies I had heard, and left. Thirty minutes later he showed up at my house.

He stomped up the front porch and pounded on the door. Natawsha was close to tears and told me not to go outside, but I told her to watch from the window and call the police if he hurt me. I gathered all the courage I could muster and opened the front door. I stood in the threshold with him towering over me, nostrils flaring like an enraged bull. He began yelling at me instantly, so I made the motion to go back inside of the house, telling him I wasn’t going to stand there and be screamed at. And then, he grabbed me. He grabbed my wrist in a clenching fist and I tried hard to get away, but I couldn’t. Trying to remain calm I told him if he didn’t let go of me I would call the police.

As he let go I informed him that I would only speak to him from the porch as he stood on the sidewalk. From the sidewalk his anger began to escalate, and his yells began to echo through the quiet neighborhood. I could see people begin to peek out of their windows from the surrounding houses. As I persistently refused to argue with him he picked up an empty beer bottle that had been lying on the ground and smashed it full force against the sidewalk. That’s when I knew I had to leave. But I wasn’t able to for another seven months.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “It takes a victim seven times to leave before staying away for good.”

The next day he called me and promised things would be different; he blamed his temper on his mother and committed to going to counseling. He never did, but I overlooked it and took him back.

The seven months that followed were only an illusion of a happy relationship. I knew it was not going to last, but a sliver of hope still remained that somehow he would recognize his behavior and do something about it. We began to fall away from each other, we were fighting more than we were happy and we were separated more than we were together. I withheld information from him fearing retaliation and began lying to him to get out of the backlash that would occur if the truth were to be told.

I began educating myself on abuse and started recognizing his cycles. Many times he promised he would get better, and I truly believed him. I’m disappointed in myself that it took me two years to realize it was never going to change. I began to sense that his abuse cycle was coming around once more and I knew this would be it.

The final episode ending the relationship was over him refusing to come help me move a piano into my house. He had promised to help until it became inconvenient for him, so I shrugged it off and told him I would find someone else. He took that as me “manipulating his jealousy against him to get him to do whatever I wanted him to,” according to him anyway. He left and I haven’t heard from him since.

I had hung in there for seven months. Seven months of endless faith in him to change, seven months of standing up for him to my parents and closest friends. But he didn’t change, which in the end broke my heart to pieces. I couldn’t endure the belittlement anymore and his striking hateful words. I loved him with my whole heart, but I finally realized that his behavior would never change. I knew that I could end things now, or ten years and two kids later, which in the Catholic Church would be nearly impossible. I finally decided to make my life a priority and accept the fact that I could no longer be with him.

Michael stripped me of my friends, my family, my confidence, and my independence. He took everything I loved and twisted it, so he was the only thing in my life. I was forced to make him my priority when I was never his. At times I wonder if it was me he really loved or the control he had over me. Anywhere from 1-3 million women are battered each year by their intimate partner, compared to the 3% of battered men, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The abuse I endured never got fully physically, and I thank God for that, I thank God that I got out when I did, I thank God for the strength he has given me to move on and heal, and I thank God that I didn’t become one of the four women that die each day as a result of domestic violence.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic violence visit http://www.thehotline.org/