Tw: Emotional, physical and sexual abuse
“I met him when I was 20. He was my neighbour and he seemed fun, charming and friendly. Over the next two years we fell in love. I’d moved away for higher studies and would often fly down to see him and eventually moved to the same city. Before that he’d constantly accuse me of sleeping around with men. He would swear at me and argue in circles for hours. I thought it was the distance so I started to inform him of where I was going and whom I was going with. At times he would make me call him and stay on the phone for hours during work. I thought it was crazy, but he justified it by saying I didn’t speak to him enough and I relented. But when I moved to his city for a new job, the nightmare began.
My flatmates went away for a few months and he started to stay at my place more often. He would demand that I put him above my job and come home early. I obviously resisted. Work was extremely important to me and I refused to let him take that away from me. The more importance I gave it, the more it bothered him. This led to arguments on an almost daily basis that would start while I was working and end by the time I came home. It wore me down and every day our fights were more harrowing than the last. Eventually the fights turned violent. He would mentally wear me down, then hit and sexually abuse me. I was ashamed and afraid to tell anyone. And since he wouldn’t leave my house and hurt me if I suggested it, I was in living hell.
Around the time, he broke into my social media accounts and would ask me why I was speaking to my male friends. He would often indirectly quote their texts to me. He would ask if I had ever shared screenshots of our texts with friends following times that I had. I felt violated. It was like I was constantly being watched and it discouraged me from telling my friends or family about how terrible things had gotten. It made me cut off from anyone I could confide in and ask for help because I felt he was watching. After I left him, the paranoia took many months to wear off. I remember texting someone about it much later, and I had this irrational fear that he’d find out about it and come and hurt me again.
He would unlock my phone using my fingerprint while I was sleeping and would regularly go through everything. He once lent me his old iPhone when my phone wasn’t working, I misplaced the phone one day and he actively blamed me for losing it. I later realised that he had taken it back himself and was using it to go through my Instagram. Though he never officially moved in, he would stay at my house for weeks at a time, with brief intervals of a few days. Because of this, it was difficult to call a friend over and talk to them. Two months after the violence started, I had to find a way to physically meet a friend, tell her about my situation and then plan a safe exit. We decided I would send her my belongings bit by bit over the week and then break things off while I was at work.
I broke up with him over the phone and didn’t go home. He was furious. He stalked me, broke into my house and once chased me down in his car. It was a nightmare. I tried to lodge a complaint with the police, but I was told it would only trigger him into acting worse. They couldn’t guard me all the time and legal recourse would have been long and tiring. I was told by a lawyer that since he was rich and connected, he would have the resources to file counter allegations and make my life a living hell. Eventually I made him believe I was filing a complaint, it finally got him to stay away. Physically at least.
I got to know that he had been cheating on me with two other women for a few weeks before I broke things off. I tried to tell them. But neither of them believed me. They demanded proof. This was despite the fact that I underwent serious trauma looking for photos of bruises and screenshots of messages where he admitted to hitting me. I was amazed that all he had to do was say, “she’s a lying slut” to be believable, and I had to defend myself instead. The fact that he was seeing other women bothered them more than the abuse. I was treated horribly by many people when I attempted to talk about it. Even when they believed me about the abuse, they thought I was the crazy one who had made him act this way. He told people I was trying to ruin his life. I got to know a few days ago that he had abused his previous girlfriend this way for years as well. She was in therapy for months. It was a pattern.
For months after I left him, I kept getting billed for applications. When I finally got through to customer service, they told me the card was registered to his account. I unfortunately had to speak to him again to have it canceled so that I wouldn’t have to replace my card in the middle of a lockdown.
I can’t believe that I went through it all with a straight face. I’m thankful that I never let it affect my work. I have a great job that I am good at and continue to thrive in. But sometimes I am so angry at him, I can’t sleep. He ruined my life. Some of his friends later realised how terribly they’d treated me and made it a point to tell everyone in his circle what he had done. These days he has been ostracized. It makes me feel a lot better. People say that you need to get over these things to move on and heal, but it helped so much to finally be believed and vindicated. I realised how common emotional and physical abuse is, and why women don’t talk about it. They fear disbelief and judgement. Usually the abuser does a pretty good job of discrediting their victim – and it always works. These days I try to take time out to talk about it more often and not feel shameful. I blame myself for what happened to me and I’ve been trying to ease myself out of it. It has encouraged the girls in my circle to speak more freely about their experiences as well. It was disheartening how many of them needed it.
Abusive relationships are not two crazy people in love. It is a terrible power play between a narcissist and their victim. It is not bruised lips and blackened eyes. It is isolation, paranoia and the fear of a partner who has an emotional hold over you. I wish people would think about it more often.”