The beginning of my story with abuse began in middle school, 7th grade to be exact. I was like many other girls that age, desperate to be popular and liked by the older ‘cool’ guys. One night, an 8th grade boy started messaging me. He was considered one of the popular ones and I was ecstatic that he was giving ME attention. Until one night, he asked me to send him pictures.

I didn’t even know what he was talking about, pictures of what? So he told me. He wanted full nude photos. I was shocked, embarrassed, hurt... but nothing like the feelings that were to come. I said no to him, at first. But it got to the point where I would have to turn my phone off for hours because he would send the same text ‘send me pictures’ hundreds of times. Then one day he said if I didn’t, he’d just tell everyone I did anyways and ruin my reputations, but if I did then it would stay between us.

So I did. And the next day, I went to school and the pictures were all over the lockers. And people gave me the name “Kodak Katelyn”. And those “cool kids” shoved me into lockers and called me names. And then someone told my parents. So I started cutting myself and I fell into a deep dark depression. It was at that time that I started feeling like I wasn’t worthy. The seed of self-hatred had been planted. Over the next several years, I continued to be mistreated by men and the self-hatred continued to grow as my self-worth diminished.

My junior year of high school I started drinking pretty heavily, I had drank a couple times before but not much. One night, my best guy friend, we’ll call him J, invited me to come drink with him and his best friend, who we’ll call S. That night would end up being the worst night of my life so far. They made a bet that J could roofie me and then spit gum into my hair while he anally raped me. And he won that bet. That night my ability to say no was taken from me. After that I became too scared to say no to anything and anyone, because I would rather just not say anything than try to say no and someone else not respect that, again.

This would come to affect my life in ways beyond my wildest dreams. I dove into drinking and partying after that. Senior year, I met a guy and I fell in love for the first time. There was a lot of emotional and mental abuse in our relationship. There was also a lot of cheating, on his part, which furthered my decline of self-worth. After about a year it was still progressively getting worse so I ended it, and then I found out he was a drug addict. How had I not known? I felt so betrayed, again. About a year later, his friends offered me my first taste of drugs. Pills. And the game was over.

At first I would only do drugs at parties or when offered, but then about a year later I was introduced to a guy. A guy who had all the pills I wanted. A guy who was charming, complementary, and wanted all my time and attention. The charming-ness lasted about a week before it turned into total control. The compliments turned into emotional abuse. And he no longer wanted my time & attention, he demanded it. I was no longer allowed to see my friends.

I was not allowed to see my family. I was not allowed to work. I had to stay with him every night. The mental abuse turned into physical abuse after a couple months. His goal was to inflict as much pain as possible without leaving telling marks behind. While all of this was going on, I also became addicted to opiates with him, which he would use to control me. I tried to leave so many times but he would always find me and lure me back in with the drugs & the promise of change. One night, he broke into my apartment and attacked me. He threw me into my dresser and gave me a concussion. He twisted my arm so far behind my back and around my head that I now have permanent nerve damage. Along with many other things.

That was the final straw, or so I thought. I got a Domestic Violence Protective Order against him and told my parents I needed to go to rehab. For 6 months, I stayed clean and away from him by being in another state. Then, I made one of the worst decisions and I moved back. It wasn’t long before I ran into him and fell straight back into it. He had changed, he assured me. He would never do anything to lose me ever again because we were meant to be and I was his soulmate. The physical abuse seized, thankfully. But the emotional and mental abuse got so much worse. He left scars that may not be visible, but take so much longer to heal than physical ones. Our using and addictions got SO much worse. It did not take long for me to reach rock bottom, only about 2-3 months. And then I made the decision that somehow, someway, I was worth more than that life.

So I went to treatment again, this time even farther away. And it was there that my life changed. I actually started working on loving myself, valuing my life, and knowing what I deserve and how to not settle for less. I also learned how to say no! Crazy, right?! I sure thought so at first. I had to come to terms with the fact that abusers will never change. I had to accept that I can’t change what happened to me, but I can either accept it and move on or continue to let it ruin me. And today I chose acceptance. I chose to not ever allow someone to abuse me in any way or make me lose my self-worth. Today, I love myself.

K. Oldaker