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I'm 19 years old and have been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half. He is 20, and we've been living together for about 10 months.
At first he swept me off my feet. He was the quiet one in my new group of college friends. An unexpected text and a few hangouts later and we were dating. He was so nice, and so much better than my ex.
I knew he could get mad easily, and had seen him freak out and yell on at least one occasion, but he was always so nice to me. Things started getting bad about 3 months into the relationship. He had suspicions about my now former boss, who is over 30.
My boss did make a pass at me but the thought of anything like that repulses me, so I eagerly turned down the offer. My boyfriend to this day does not believe me. He started watching me at work and it got so bad that I had to quit. Not to mention the other things that were going on, like huge serious fights over small unimportant things like the way I drove, or if I took a wrong turn and took a slightly longer route. Things like missing a phone call or not calling at the exact time I said I would. Then he started to question why I would want to hang out with my friends.
He found out I kissed my best friend at a party and insisted that it was cheating to the worst extent, even though I did not have any intention to take anything further, it was a completely innocent kiss. After I told him about it he wouldn't let me talk to any of my friends (he cut off the guy friends a while before this). He would always think I was trying to have an intimate relationship behind his back with all of the girls I ever wanted to talk to.
He pressured me to have threesomes and do other things with girls in front of him so I wouldn't do it behind his back. He set up all of this acting as me on my cell phone. He would pretend he was me and talk very dirty to random girls and get them to send pictures of themselves and he would try to hide all of it. He acted like he was trying to make friends for me but I would find countless girls in my contacts and pictures in my phone that he tried hiding.
He would get mad when I would ask him not to, and got physical a few times over it. I don't remember the first time he put his hands on me but the relationship was physical for about 7 months. He has given me multiple bruises, 3 black eyes, and many lumps on my head. We moved to my hometown for the summer last year, and that's when things were the worst. He would make me sit outside of our workplace in the woods when I wasn't scheduled or sometimes he would let me stay at my grandma's house taking pictures or videos of me in her house every 5 or ten minutes without her knowing. He still makes me do this when I am not with him. Also, there was a lot of verbal abuse too. He has called me everything from worthless to a slut and everything in between. I thought things would get better once he got his own apartment,and they did a little but I still wasn't happy.
I left him in January, but he freaked out, calling all the members of my family telling them things I don't want them to know. He offered a bunch of empty promises to me and like an idiot I gave in. He was so emotional and actually cared about losing me.
He actually stopped hitting me and the verbal abuse is much much less. However I still do not have the freedoms a normal person has. He is much more paranoid about what I'm doing now and I'm not allowed to go anywhere when he's not with me. He drives me almost everywhere I have to go, and I'm not allowed to do anything more than that--school and work. He says if I want to hang out with anyone just say so, but I have, and there's always something better that he has to do.
I drive him around anywhere he wants to go whenever he wants to go there. I have to get him whatever he wants, he won't even walk across the room to get something for himself. We have gotten in some fights since I came back, but usually I just try to agree with whatever he is saying because no matter who is right he will make himself be right and use fear to get there. I've threatened leaving too but whenever he gets too emotional he starts crying hysterically and even hitting himself really hard and threatening to quit his job and kill himself if I leave. I think he could really be serious about these threats. I feel like I'm forced to be here for the sake of his life--that I'm his servant and just waiting to fulfill my duties to him and then die.
I feel hopeless that this will be my life forever. At first I was sure it was just regular abuse, but do you think it could be extreme anger issues that can be fixed or managed? He was taken from his neglectful mother at age 7 and lived with an abusive father and stepmother for ten years.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Whitney, and thanks for telling your story here. You are someone who is definitely caught in a "battered woman" syndrome. It is extremely important that you understand these things:
1) Things will get worse as long as you stay with him.
2) This is about you, not about him. Whether there is hope for him is not your concern...your concern is whether you will have a life.
3) This relationship has nothing to do with love. It is all about control, fear and threat. This is not love.
4) You need to leave as soon as possible. Contact a battered woman's shelter in your area, go there and live there as long as you need to in order to feel safe. If not that, then stay with a friend or family member that will stand up for you and be strong.
5) You are addicted to this relationship, and the only way you can even begin to heal and recover is to get away from him--totally.
Your life is worth saving, Whitney. Do not give up on yourself. You are not the diminished person that you think you are at this point. You have allowed yourself to be reduced to much less than who you really are.
You are a bright, good person with much to offer. Save yourself from this toxic, sick relationship.
By the way, I know you're afraid your boyfriend will hurt himself if you leave. Maybe he will, but I assure you that you're not doing him any favors by staying with him. By staying with him and doing all you do for him, you're giving him the message that his behavior is acceptable and correct--and it is not either acceptable or correct. The only reason he gets upset at the thought of losing you is that it will cause him to have to face himself and what he has become.
Watch this great video, and see if you can begin to believe in yourself again. You must believe in yourself to some extent, or you would not have reached out and told your story on this web site.
You can do this, Whitney. You are worthy of respect and the freedom to live your life as you choose. Take action now. Don't wait.
My very best to you,
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