My ‘story’ began at the young age of 15, I met somebody who I thought was going to chance my life for the better, how wrong was I? We had mutual friends and everyone spoke so kindly of him, I mean why wouldn’t they, he was so good at living a double life.

After a year of friendship we slowly began a relationship; looking back now I should’ve realized the warning signs, from the very beginning he was so controlling and manipulative. He quickly changed my friendship circle by deciding who I was and wasn’t allowed to talk to, I had to run by him every single day what I was going to be wearing and my priorities had to revolve around him.

The emotional abuse was evident from the start but I thought nothing of it at the time, except I knew that it hurt but I thought my love for him compensated that. 2 years into the relationship and things began getting more and more physically abusive, I was told it was my fault and I was told I knew what would’ve annoyed him and I was essentially asking to be hit, I.e. I shouldn’t have accepted a friend request on Facebook from a guy I worked with, I shouldn’t have raised my voice to him like that, I shouldn’t have tried to leave the room when he got angry....I should’ve known I would get hit...I ended up in hospital multiple times with the abuse, I now have a perforated septum which requires ongoing treatments and surgery.

I developed PTSD whilst in the relationship and am currently undergoing CBT and hypnotherapy and last year finally ended my relationship with my abuser. I gained a restraining order which was a very lengthy and hard process and I still question to this very day whether I think he will ever fully understand how much he has hurt me, both mentally and physically. I moved to another country to try and escape the flashbacks, the worry that he’s outside my house, the humiliation I faced every time I seen our friends who I thought were just judging me and my story, but when I moved things only got worse.

I thought all the feelings would be gone when I moved but that was just a preconceived idea of what I thought the healing process was, it turns out that it’s a lot harder than just leaving your problems behind. When I moved the flashbacks got worse and the anxiety closely linked with my PTSD got worse. Unfortunately, in the vulnerable state that I was in, this ultimately made things a lot ‘easier’ for my next abuser. I was raped by flat mate of mine in this new country where I had set all my hopes and dreams into, a place that was meant to be my escape from all that shit, a place where I was meant to find myself again and yet another person took advantage of me.

I remember staying up to drink with him, we were good friends, and I mean we did live together. We started off kissing and that was fine, I could deal with kisses because we had done that before but after everything that had happened with my ex I wasn’t ready to go any further than that. But as things got more heated I repeated no and continuously tried to push away his hand. As I tried to stand up and leave the room I found that I kept being dragged down by his forceful grip as he threw me back onto the sofa. As he became more and more persistent and more and more forceful, I become more and more scared.

He carried me into his room where at this point I had just given up, I had realized he wasn’t giving up anytime soon and I definitely wasn’t going to win this fight. I let it happen. And after it had happened I just left the room in tears, we never talked about that night again. I decided to leave that flat a few months later because I didn’t feel comfortable with what had happened to me, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own room, taking a shower in a place so close to him, waking up to see him when I got breakfast in the kitchen, it was absolutely soul destroying.

I’m now back home, living with my parents, telling them everything has probably been the hardest part about this all, you want them to be proud of you and say you’re a strong woman but you don’t feel very strong when someone you loved with all your heart and trusted entirely, physically and emotionally abused you and the sickest part is, I actually let him, I didn’t leave him for ages, how does that make me strong? I was raped by someone I trusted enough to share a house with and after fighting for so long I just lay there and let it happen, how is that strong?

But enough is enough, they’ve taken too much from me to let them take my self-love, that’s where I draw the line. I am a STRONG WOMAN, I have been through that but here I am today to write this, I have found the bravery to walk away from people who don’t better my life, I’ve found the respect I deserve from other people derives from the respect I have for myself, I’ve learnt that I am an amazing person to love and the person I decide to spend the rest of my life with will be lucky to share it with me and receive all the love I have to give. I have learnt that life has struggles and we women need to stand together, help each other out and speak out against issues like this!

This isn’t my ‘story’, merely a chapter in my life and I’m excited for the next one