I was 15 when it all started. Sitting here and remembering what happened then to where I am now I will say you become free. You get your wings back and you learn to fly again. But at the age of 15 I fell in love what is considered to be your first love and what I thought was my only love. We were both young very dependent on each other. I was more dependent on him speaking honestly.

The cycle began when I accepted his cheating the first time and I knew he was with someone else. I was there knowing the whole school knew he was with someone else but as long I was with him nothing else mattered. Eventually he ended the relationship with the other girl and said he only wanted to be with me. Of course by now I was so used to it that when he told me this I questioned as to why do you break up with her. Looking back now I realized the worth I had given myself was through the cracks. The next step was the verbal abuse it became so intense that the first summer we wanted to have we could not because I was leaving for the whole summer to Peru. We were apart and the feeling of not being together changed everything it revealed a lot to me little things I had not noticed. He had anger issues. The verbal abuse was so much that we would break up and get back together every week. This was the whole summer.

I was 16 now heading into a new school year and the constant fight continued. Besides breaking up every week the threats of physical abuse began. Where he would say “keep going and watch what you’re going to get, you want me to hit you don’t you”. I never thought he would but neither did I think I would either. One day the verbal abuse got so bad I had enough. His constant threats of hitting me. I was angry. I went over to his house and that’s where everything went downhill.

I kept pushing every button he had stating over and over “hit me you say you want to hit me, hit me” I pushed and would slap until he snapped. The only thing I remember next I was on the floor he pinned me down and his hand over my throat. When the words came out “I can’t breathe” he let go. We both knew in that moment what had happened should have never happened.

The rest of this story was an order of protection that was placed that we would break multiple times because we wanted to be together. The abusive behavior continued until the age of 19. I really do not speak of these events as some are triggering more than others. I would pretend that this never happened to me. The image after you get of who you were and who you became becomes so unreal it’s scary to think I was once that person.

But what I want to say through this experience, my experience. This lasted for six years. In different stages of abuse. I finally decided to walk away from this at the age of 21. Looking back at how many years I thought I needed someone and how liberating it is to finally let go.

What I learned is while being in a domestic violence relationship is you become the victim but you can also become an abuser. You can be both. I was both. We did the harm to each other. This is where I point out men also face abuse I would know the same treatment he gave me I gave back. I realized all of this as part of my growth. Right now I’m unlearning the abusive behaviors that I have inherited as survival tactics. In order to undo abuse to live a life where abuse does not surround you, you start with yourself.

I share my story in hopes those who read it will realize you are stronger than you think. It’s not easy I cannot say it is. It was very difficult for me but what I am grateful from all of this is the process of growth. I will add the other person is doing fine and has grown too. We exchanged apologies at the age of 21 and for us both that was one of the biggest steps we needed to complete our healing. You never want to hurt the person you love I never did nor did he but now we know distance is healthier. Also at any moment you see a red flag please walk away, you’re worth so much. Your worth is infinite and beyond.