TW: violence in intimate relationships, gender-based violence, gas lighting and abuse.
“It was Feb 28. We were meeting after three weeks. He told me he wanted to show me something and hoped I would take it well. He opened his laptop and my nude flashed on the screen. I froze, while he kept scrolling.
On the forum several men talked about jerking off to my picture and wanting to fuck me and how they wanted me that night. He kept scrolling and said with glee, “It is almost viral.” Without looking at my face, he said, “These men all want you but only I get to have you.” I blurted out, “You are such a pervert. How could you?”
He seemed wounded. He said, “I only wanted you to feel good about your body. Anyway your face is hidden.” I didn’t know terms such as gaslighting or consent then but I knew that a person I loved sharing my nude online was a serious breach of trust. I don’t have much of a memory of how we sorted that out. From what I remember, he deleted the post. And from other episodes of gaslighting and emotional abuse, I know I must have said sorry and we must have had sex. It was our second year together, the cracks in our relationship could no more cemented with great sex but we were holding onto the relationship. I wanted that relationship.
I was a 30-year-old virgin when I met him. My friends were married with kids and I wanted marriage and kids but I settled for him because I thought I had love and great sex. After 6 months, we were both insecure about the other leaving us and it came with bickering over who was commenting on FB, who we were talking to on Twitter. Tired of the bickering, he once told me he was going to have one of those profiles where people can’t post. I felt guilty and trimmed my ex-es and good looking men from my profile. What I had not known that he had debarred me from posting or knowing who had posted. He still would be sullen if he saw men liking my pictures or writing “pretty” or “hot” on my pictures.
By February 28, he had a problem with everything. Me wearing lipstick. “You like men lusting after your lips?”. My long hair, which I eventually cut. He thought I was luring every man into my bed. He would fight – about me talking to vegetable vendor, with men appreciating my work, with the attention my work got me. When we had sex, he accused me of thinking of other men. I was constantly walking on eggshells; it had reached a stage where even when he wasn’t present, the fear of him was always there and I would stop doing things because the fear of what would happen if he found out would make me so frightened.
It ended with me being diagnosed with mild depression, with little or no work. I would wake up in the night and scream and still wanted to go back to him. I thought I would never have love; this was twisted, but if I could fix it with my goodness, I would be the winner. Only one of my friends knew about the abuse, but I wouldn’t tell her everything because I felt so much shame that when everyone had love, I had this. Also, she kept telling me to leave him but I wanted to make it work, so that I could tell myself that I was worthy of love.
It has been more than a couple of years and writing about this still made me scared – what if he finds out. But, having written it, I felt it was an old fear and maybe I could let it go and he can only have as much power as I give him.”