I was in an abusive relationship for 2 1/2 years. The man that entered my life as a charismatic, charming, perfect person turned out to be the most evil person I had ever laid my eyes on. As someone who had grown up in a Christian home with a happy, beautiful family, I was completely blind to the person behind those manipulative eyes.

What stared off as a happy, amazing relationship quickly turned into something that was emotionally and mentally abusive. I was a young, naive woman and I was a very easy target for an abuser. The abuse began with subtle insults, breaking down my self-confidence one day at a time. This quickly turned into isolation, removing every friend and family member from my life one at a time. He was so good at what he was doing, I didn’t even notice the amount of people quickly disappearing from my life... because he was always “there for me” when someone left.

By the time the physical abuse started, I was completely isolated. My partner was my world. He took me everywhere, bought me dinner every night, and knew absolutely everything about me. I still thought he was completely perfect.

The first time he hit me, it was small and with not much force. It almost seemed like “play-fighting” that was just taken a little too far. He apologized, laughed it off, and I was still completely oblivious to what was actually happening. I forgave him. He bought me a necklace telling me how sorry he was, that he “didn’t mean to actually hurt me,” and I was convinced. It was an accident.

As the days progressed, the physical abuse became worse. After every incident, there was a sincere apology followed up with a gift. He was always “so sorry.” It would “never happen again.” Until the next time. It continued to happen, each slap becoming harder, the slaps turning into closed fists, the closed fists progressing into choking me until I passed out. But he was always sorry.

Eventually, the abuse using his hands wasn’t good enough and weapons were brought into the equation. Baseball bats, knives, belts, whatever he could get his hands on. It wasn’t until a knife was being held to my throat that I realized if I lived through that night, I had to leave.

Leaving seemed impossible. I had been with this man for 2 1/2 years. I felt like I had no one. I didn’t know what friends were anymore, I was closed off to the real world, and I didn’t even have my own cell phone or a driver’s license. He had me convinced that everyone hated me, no one would ever accept me for who I was, and he was all I had.

He was wrong.

I woke up one morning shortly after the last incident where a knife was held on me and I had a sense of courage inside of me that I had never felt before. I called my mom. Then I called my dad. Then I called my old friends who, to my surprise, answered immediately. I asked for help. I completely fell apart telling everyone what had been happening to me.

People that I hadn’t spoken to in years jumped to help me out of that situation. I left and I haven’t looked back. When I finally felt that sense of freedom, I realized that what was happening to me was never ok, I didn’t deserve any of it, and there was life beyond that abuse.

Almost 4 years later, I am in therapy. I take medicine to help me push passed the anxiety that I still have from that situation. But, I am strong. I am stronger than I ever thought I would be. I am in a healthy relationship, soon to be married. I have rebuilt my confidence, enrolled in college, and I’m with friends every weekend. I do so many amazing things now that I never would’ve had the chance to do if I had stayed in that relationship. Leaving was the hardest thing I had ever done but it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

L. Faircloth