I've thought about this post this entire week, as it is the week to end domestic violence. I'm embarrassed to say this, but I was actually questioning myself wondering if I should talk about my experience. Then a commercial came on, and they talked about how even when it's hard domestic violence and rape, need to be talked about. I don't know everyone's stories, but I do know 2 of mine. I hope one of them will bring some of you peace. I hope it'll let you know that you can move on. You can heal. You can be the best you ever. We just have to say No More.
I had just turned 18 in the summer of 2002. I was so excited to be an adult, start college, and all those other fun life experiences that come at that time. I was also very interested in boys, and back in those early days of AOL, I went on chat rooms to talk to guys. Not so different from today.
One night a guy sent me a message. He sent me a picture, and I thought he was gorgeous. He was 35, so obviously mature, and he was into me! I was blown away! We started talking all day everyday for about a week. After 7 days we met up, and it was like fireworks. He said hi, and within a matter of hours he told me that I needed to lose weight. I was already so aware of how overweight I was that it crushed me. I knew if I didn't lose the weight I'd lose him. I knew that because he told me that he wouldn't be with a fat girl. Overnight, I stopped eating.
It was crazy how fast this guy wanted to start our life. He wanted to be with me all the time. He wanted to know where I was all the time, and what I was doing. He would tell me that it's because he loves and cares about me that he wants to know where I am. He wanted to make sure I was safe. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I mean other than his swearing, putting my weight down, and constantly belittling me by telling me I was lying to him; he was perfect.
After 2 weeks we moved in together. I literally packed up my car in the middle of the night, moved out of my parents home, and into an apartment with him. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have this gorgeous, older guy, love me! I felt like a million bucks.
After 2 weeks, I had dropped 14 lbs. From there though, he started to control how I dressed. Suddenly he wanted me in professional business attire all the time. He picked out the clothes I would wear, tell me the way I needed to wear my hair, and what shoes would look appropriate. He even made me the manager of his real estate firm. It was as if we were starting a real life together.
Then suddenly, out the blue, something changed. It changed for the worse. Not only was I going over in my head every little thing I would say before I say it, just so he wouldn't get mad (which never worked), he started to cut my family out of my life. I wasn't allowed to talk to certain people. He refused to meet my family, and constantly told me that it didn't matter what they thought of him as long as I loved him.
He use to pop into the office 8, 9, 10 times a day, just to see where I was, if I was there, and if I wasn't, "Where in the hell were you?! Were you out with another guy?! You're such a whore. I knew you were cheating on me." I couldn't believe he would think I would cheat on him. He was everything to me. It was him and me against the world. How could he think I could do that to him? I loved him.
One day he decided that I was too close to my family. We packed up and headed to Vegas. I didn't know about his poker addiction. I didn't realize that in days we'd be out of money and sleeping out of my car. He literally went through all my credit cards, my bank accounts, everything he could to find money so he could sit and play. All the while he demanded that I look like a 10 while I sat next to him for 18-20 hours a day. I'd literally be bathing and doing my hair in a casino.
I remember looking at myself in the mirror one of those days and wondering how in the world I got here in under 6 months. I was sleeping in my car, and wasn't allowed to have any contact with anyone but him. This isn't what it was supposed to be.
When I'd bring up my concerns to him, he'd instantly apologize, tell me that he'd make it all better, and he's so sorry for causing me pain. He's just under a little stress. I always forgave him, and we started the cycle all over again.
After Vegas was done, we drove to Colorado and started staying with his friend. They were wonderful and kind, but had no idea that constant hell I was living in. He was always checking my cell phone, he made me go everywhere with him. I remember sitting in a little run down bar while these old men played poker for 24-48 hours a day. There I sat/slept on the couch.
I'll never forget one day I had fallen asleep after being awake for more than 2 days. Instantly he got up and came over and sat by me. He grabbed my hand tightly and through gripped teeth he said, "You are to be here with me. How do you think it looks to these guys if my girlfriend isn't even on board with me?" I told him how tired I was, and I needed sleep. He grabbed me hard by the arm, pulled me outside and slapped me hard across the face. "There, that should wake you up. Now get the F out of my face. You're disgusting."
I fell to the ground sobbing. I couldn't believe he just slapped me. I was in shock. I went into the bathroom, cleaned myself up, and we went home. When we got home, he told me how sorry he was and that he would never do it again. He was stressed about the game, and flew off the handle. I guess I could understand that, so I let it slide.
From there it got progressively worse. Finally I had the courage to run back to Utah in the middle of the night. He hounded me on my cell 24/7. I was so paranoid that he was around I could sleep, eat, or function. Within a week he had talked me into coming back out to CO. I did. I left in the middle of the night like always.
It goes on and on and gets worse and worse, until Christmas one year. I was in a dirty hotel room in Vegas. Only 6 hours from my family. I begged him to please let me go see my niece who was just 2 hours away (It was a complete lie, but I missed my family so). He told me that I could go, but if I wasn't back in 24 hours, he'd hunt down my now 3 year old niece and kill her.
I drove through the night only to get to my home 6 hours from Vegas at around midnight. I got a few beautiful hours with my family, and then I waved them goodbye. I felt like I was driving to my death. I felt like that was the last time I was ever going to see my family.
When I hit my Uncle and Aunts house 2 hours from Vegas, I stopped to thank them for putting gas in my car yesterday. I had just called my boyfriend to let him know I'd be "home" in 2 hours. I couldn't find my relatives house, so I just decided to screw it. I turned a corner, and there was their house. It was a miracle from God.
I went inside and thanked them, and told them that I had to go. My uncle looked at me and said, "Jilly, what do we need to do to make it so you never go back there again?" I made up excuses that all my clothes were there, my computer, etc. He looked at me again and said, "I'll go replace all of it today if you'll just stay." I was sobbing. I told them I couldn't and I had to go.
I ran out to my car, got it in drive, and then screamed out loud. Tears were pouring down my face, and yet something inside of me told me that if I went back, I would never see my family again. He would kill me. I turned off the car, went back inside and said, "Okay, what do I need to do?"
From that day it was a really long road back to feeling normal. Back to not being scared that I was going to walk out of my house and have him there in my driveway. I couldn't go out places for awhile, I couldn't even function. I was a zombie. It took years of therapy to deal with these emotions, and the damage that was done by this sick, perverse man. But I did it. I made it. I'm one of the lucky ones.
My 2nd story will have to wait. I promise I'll tell you all about it some day. I just want any girl, teen girl, adult female, or any men too, to know that you can leave. You can get safe. You can rebuild after an abusive relationship. Reach out. There are so many that want to help you get out. They love you, and are genuine. Your abuser will never love you the way you want them to. They can't. They're not capable. Therefore you have to leave. I promise it will be the hardest thing you've ever done, but I'm sitting here typing this today because I did it, and I came out with my head up.
If anyone is in a situation that they need help to get out of, go to the link that I posted at the beginning. It's nomore.org You'll find tips, and avenues that are there for you to take to get back yourself, and to make sure you're safe in the process. You're not alone even though you feel so isolated. You have people that love you. Let them in. Let them help. Choose to Live.