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Well, I Was Just a Girlfriend

But I couldn't find "Abusive boyfriend" so I figured this would do.

I fell for a guy 12 years older than I when I was 18. I knew that the odds against the relationship were high, but I was really committed to making it work. I dated this guy for a few months and nothing really untoward happened... or at least that I realized was a red flag at the time. Sure he would get really mad about unimportant little things, but I figured that as long as I placated him he'd be fine. I don't want to make me sound like a doormat, but I honestly believed that as long as I explained that I wasn't laughing at him, just enjoying a chat with my friend (true story... we weren't even talking about him) he wouldn't be angry anymore. Shows what I knew.

I dated this guy and ended up moving in with him and spent the next four years bitterly regretting it. Although I couldn't admit to myself that I did regret it...I always thought that if I only tried harder to understand him, that I could avoid all the little blow ups and screaming sessions that occured. It was only happening because I wasn't smart enough, or I was too involved with my own life to remember him.

By the time I finally wised up and broke it off with the guy, I was mostly crazy. I doubted (and continue to doubt) my judgement of people, the validity of my emotions, whether or not I was a selfish person. To this day, I have a difficult time with silences in conversation...I learned that those meant I had been "bad" and was going to be yelled at. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it was coming.

Sometimes he'd wait to pick a fight with me, so that I was on eggshells for days...getting ready to fight about every little thing and then he'd be so reasonable that by the time the fight DID happen I was feeling like I'd caused it. Other times, the fight would be immediate and hurtful and I would be in "disgrace" for the next few days. Silent treatment all around and I would be ignored and left to fend for myself. No communal dinner, and no taking me with him when he went out. 

It got to the point where it was like living with a dog that I didn't know would bite or not. I was always waiting for the next fight and the next apology: "I'm sorry babe, it's just you KNOW that makes me unhappy, and I just can't help myself. You just need to not do that anymore and we'll be fine."  It was always up to me to bend, give in or break. He wouldn't ever compromise. It was also up to me to make sure he was happy. He had no responsibility for his own emotional health. If he was angry, not only was it most likely my fault, but I was "supposed" to make it better.

And then after the break up it was worse. Abusive calls at all hours of the day or night, hateful e-mails. He'd show up at my apartment in tears...or in a towering rage. Once he had a knife. I even got a call from his shrink...the man only broke doctor-patient confidentiality to tell me that I was in danger. My ex was showing signs of stalking and possessive behavior.  So I moved 800 miles away to the northern part of the state. A week later, so did he. Recently, after two years of peace he once again started sending me abusive e-mails and generally being a freak. So, I'm filing a restraining order on Monday.

The problem now is the aftermath... I can't seem to have a normal relationship now. I don't even want to date most of the time because I deeply distrust most people...mostly men. When I do date, I'm always waiting for them to turn on me and hurt me. I don't like being touched, and I am prone to react violently to being "loomed" over. I still have nightmares, and I hate sharing personal space or a bed with anyone else. I'm definately wise to the signs of an abuser now, but I also kind of feel like I'm so determined never to be trapped in that situation again that I'm kind of rejecting everyone out of hand. I have a tendency to over react in an argument and instantly go aggressive and defensive in anticipation of being put down.

How do I go about getting my life back? I don't want this loser to win by making me too afraid to enjoy life without him? It doesn't help that my other boyfriends have been losers or pre-abusers too... I don't understand why I attract them. I wasn't abused as a child or anything. Anyway, what steps do I take to being able to trust the people I date?

Voodoolou Voodoolou 22-25, F 4 Responses Jul 18, 2009

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dont tell yourself that YOU are the one attracting abusive men. Its not your fault.

Oh my, I totally understand what you went through and how it affected you, ... you posted on my story of abuse and I was so wrapped up in myself then that I didn't read yours or respond till now... I'm sorry. I do hope that in the months since July that you have gotten free of your crazy ex. That is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOURSELF. You must cut that man out of your life like throwing out rotten meat. I had to be coached by SweetCityWoman to stay away from my abusive exes. I still felt sorry for them and doubted myself.... I ended up changing everything in my life, living location, car, getting rid of clothes, furniture, etc. from those relationships as the reminders put those men IN my current life even if only in my thoughts. <br />
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The way I handled my "crazed" self and turned "normal" again was to try and be my own best friend. I avoided anything that caused me pain (avoiding certain places, jobs,etc), I tried to do what brought me pleasure (walks, beach trips, movies, etc), and like falling off a bike "you gotta get on and ride again" I started meeting men. I used some singles sites and always met in very public places. I probably met 60 men before being able to open up to anyone, some became friends, a few lovers. Finally, months after ending the abusive relations, I met someone I was really attracted to. I approached him on the internet first. He responded. He fell in love with me first and coaxed me into loving him back over the last 4 months, putting up with my emotional ups and downs, and eventually beating the demons out of my soul with his compassion. I no longer have bad dreams, I rarely think of my past. I feel normal again, in part because he knew from the start that I was "damaged goods" and helped me heal.<br />
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I wish you love and luck and a bright future. Take care of yourself. Write me if you want to.

Hopefully a restraining order will do the trick. I don't want to move anymore...besides, I think this guy will just follow me if I do. I have to start getting the law involved. That way if the worst DOES happen, at least I can hope to get some justice.

please run for your life girl