I was 14 when I met him. I was a young, naive girl with zero self esteem. While my peers had “boyfriends” I didn’t, because I was on the chubby side. It was summertime and I remember meeting him for the first time at my friend’s house where we flirted and exchanged phone numbers. As the summer went on, we talked, flirted and saw each other more, yet it wasn’t too long into meeting that he let that first mental hit sneak through. “You would be so much prettier if you lost weight.” That was when I started starving myself. As time went on and we started “dating” we would get into fights. He would cheat on me, he would tell me I wasn’t good enough and that if I really loved him I would show it. If I could go back in time and tell little me not to listen I would have in a heartbeat. To him, proving I loved him meant hurting myself and even carving his name into my skin. It meant letting him touch me in ways I really did not want. I didn’t understand why but I figured that it was how relationships were supposed to be. I cried at night when he continued to cheat on me and tell me all of these mean things even though I “proved” myself. I remember the first time he hurt me. He was twisting my arm when I wanted to go with my friend instead of staying alone with him. I remember the time I lost faith in adults was when he choked me in the middle of the hallway because another boy dared to flirt with me. The teachers told me it was my fault for talking to him, like I deserved it for associating with him. It got to the point where my arms were covered in bruises and my legs in cuts and at 15 years old I wanted to die. I very clearly remember sitting in my bed crying, thinking about how many Tylenol pills it would take for me to just fall asleep and never wake up. Luckily, that didn’t happen. The final time I interacted with him was a phone call. I told him I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t want to go to high school being cheated on and not having friends. He told me I was worthless and no one would ever love me and that was when I hung up. I hated myself for a very long time, I threw myself into dating random guys in high school and flirting with anyone who would look at me. I wanted to prove him wrong, but I was worth so much more than that. Luckily, my sophomore year, I met a guy who just wanted to pass notes and get to know me. He wanted to be my friend first. Eventually he asked me out and 9 years later we are married and have a daughter. I will admit, even today if I see him in public I have a panic attack and run away. The trauma is still there 10 years later and it hits like a cement truck. It doesn’t matter what age, abuse can happen at anytime. Check in on your daughters, sisters, and nieces. Let them know what a healthy, loving relationship looks like. M
ake sure they are okay. Don’t brush them off with “you’re too young to know what love means” because they could end up being the young girl who does take those pills or is finally hurt past the point of coming back.