When I was 15 I was in a very toxic and emotionally abusive relationship. I never really got to know him before we began dating. He was two years older than me. We went to the same school, so we had a couple of mutual friends. He asked about me, came to speak to me a couple of times, told my friends he was interested in me, so inevitably, I felt pretty special and definitely very wanted.
He added me on Facebook, we spoke for a couple of days, skyped over the weekend, and the week following we were dating. It was very rushed and I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.
We were only dating a week when it came to his birthday. As I was only 15, didn’t have a job, and didn’t know him overly well, I didn’t buy him a present. I didn’t have any money nor did I find it necessary due to only knowing him for two weeks. Of course I did the normal thing and sent him a big happy birthday message and saw him for as long as I possibly could during the lunch breaks at school.
But later that night when I got home, he was sending me messages that hinted that he didn’t like that I didn’t get him a birthday present, to which I was pretty surprised as he acted completely normal towards me during the day. However, the messages kept getting more negative and more negative to the point where I was made to feel like a really shitty person. And I started to believe it. I truly was the worst girlfriend ever.
Almost every night we would talk on the phone, and I was finding that majority of the conversation was about him. It was always focused on him, and he rarely asked about me. He would get mad at me for being unable to answer his phone calls because I was about to have dinner. Sometimes I would go to my room after I had finished eating to find messages on my phone saying that I “didn’t really like him” because I didn’t answer his call. Of course I would then have to redeem myself, and tell him over and over how much he meant to me.
Little did I know that this was one big psychological game.
I would make a “mistake”, he would get angry, I would apologise, he would place thoughts in my head like “you don’t really like me”, I would tell him over and over that he was wrong until he decided I had begged and pleaded enough.
I was building his ego up and up, while he was stripping my self-esteem down.
When conflict hit, which occurred pretty often, it never ended well. If we ever had an argument, he was never the person that wanted to have a cooling off period and speak about it when we were both level-headed, but instead he liked to call me argue even further. His version of arguing included turning the conversation into a “shoving insults down Jordie’s throat” session.
He had the ability to reduce me to feeling like a 4-year-old; I believed every single word that came from his mouth. Whether he was telling me that I was the reason for his angry outbursts and controlling behaviour or that the sky was green, I believed him.
The abuse continued. Some days were good days, and some days were worse, but I told myself it was nothing to worry about, because he loved me. My friends tried to tell me that the relationship was not a good situation to be in, but I defended him, even up to the day he broke up with me because “I wasn’t mature enough”.
After breaking up, he had himself a new girlfriend, and I found out that he had actually been seeing her while we were still dating. That was pretty bold coming from someone who forbid me from even talking to my closest guy friends. He didn’t prohibit contact with them because he was controlling me though, it was because “he was jealous and wanted our relationship to start off on the right foot”.
The couple of months following our break up, I was still pretty caught up on him because I had built him up to be my everything. When he was in his new relationship, I would receive long, abusive messages from him weekly to monthly. They would tell me that I was such a c**t during our relationship, that it was embarrassing how in love with him I was, that during the whole relationship he was faking all of his feelings, but most importantly, I had to realise how in love he was with his new girlfriend and never make contact with him again. Which is exactly what I did.
That of course was until he sent me a message after his relationship ended apologising for every message he had sent to me after we had broken up. He told me that it wasn’t him that messaged me, but it was his girlfriend being protective. He then proceeded to guilt trip me into feeling sorry for him.
He clearly had some underlying issues of his own that he had failed to deal with, and instead decided to blame me, for something I had no part in creating whatsoever.
After his break up with his new girlfriend, he would message me quite a bit. During this time, I guess I fell back into the habit of forgiving him, and once again became his place to vent.
On various occasions he would randomly message me or call me at insane times to tell me that he thought his life was not worth living anymore. As a fifteen-year-old, this was not something I was trained to deal with on a daily to weekly basis. After telling me this, it was routine for him to “say goodbye” to me and not speak to me for a couple of days. This of course left me to think of the worst possible scenarios.
At 3am in the morning, I would be sitting in bed, anxious to the point of violently scratching myself, because he had said his goodbyes and wouldn’t answer my calls.
Some of these episodes would take a different path however, and he would essentially place his life in my hands. There were a few times where he had messaged me saying “there is no point in living if you don’t love me / want to be with me” and “if you don’t tell me you love me I’m going to have to go forever”.
Over a year had passed, we had not spoken in a very long time, I had gotten myself a new boyfriend and my abuser was having another life or death situation that I was somehow in control of. This time, he said that he would feel better if I “sent him pictures”. I told him I wasn’t going to, that I had a boyfriend, and therefore it wasn’t very appropriate of him to ask that of me. I still have the messages.
His reply was “no fuck that!!”
I said “what?” as I didn’t understand what he was referring to.
He said “No. I’m not letting you”, meaning he was not letting me have a new boyfriend.
I asked why, and he told me “I’m jealous, and that still annoys me”.
This was a boy that I had not been in a relationship with for over a year, a boy that I had infrequent contact with, a boy that didn’t even know that I had a boyfriend, yet he thought he had the right to control who I saw and who I dated, just like he did during our relationship.
After telling him that he had no right in dictating who I saw, he manipulated me into thinking that my boyfriend didn’t like me. He tried to own me. He told me “I’m the only one that’s still here. You make me out to be an arsehole and a loser, but I’m the only one that still loves you”. And I believed him, because that is something you do when you have been emotionally abused by someone for 2 years.
To this day, he still tries to have control over who I date.
This is the most frightening relationship I have been in. Whenever someone asks about my past relationships, I never fail to mention this one because domestic abuse is something that needs to be spoken about.
So many people think that it is only abuse when it is physical, but it starts as soon as your partner controls who you see, what you wear, where you go, what you can post on social media, or when you are blamed for their mistakes.
I did not realise that I was in an abusive relationship, just like many others right now, some that may have read the first few paragraphs and saved it for later when their partner isn’t around.
You are a temple, and you should not let anyone in that is not ready to worship you.
Speak up, and watch out. You never know who may need your help.
Took me almost 2 years after a previous boyfriend broke up with me to realise that I had been emotionally abused. While we were together it was totally normal for him to say on my 18th birthday “you can’t go out because you have to pick me up when I’m ready” and “you have no friends to go with anyway”.
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There are so many girls around this age that I know that aren’t going out on their 18th or to a friend’s 18th because of this exact same reason. And it is so hard to explain to someone in this situation that it’s not right because it is seen as normal for them 😦 xx
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Goodness Jordie, sounds like a narcisstic vampire (personality type) from the book The Empathy. Read – There is nothing I need from anyone except love & respect & anyone who won’t give those two things has no place in my life! Healing Light
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I’m from the USA and am doing a case study for a psychology seminar about adolescent blogging. Love your articles and wanted to throw out there that you should look up gaslighting, it’s the exact form of emotional abuse that was used on you and creating awareness of the signs before it becomes a persons norm is critical for intervention. Make sure to let all your friends know too because it is a much more common phenomenon and some guys even do it unconsciously without realizing it.
Keep on trucking,