The hardest part of emotional abuse is realizing what it is and when it’s happening. When I was in 8th grade I met a boy. Typical right? We started texting, which turned into calling, which turned into more. Even MORE typical. School was starting soon and high school was calling my name. We had been dating for 6 months by the time school started, but here’s the catch. I was starting high school and he was finishing.

How fun, finally having a high school romance right? Wrong. He had cheated on me before, actually the day of our first kiss. It was a mess but, we pulled though. His friend told me he kissed another girl. Nothing crazy. Time goes on right? I fell for him. He was charming, knew all the right words to say, funny. But mostly protective. I had never had someone who was territorial over me. It was nice in the beginning, but as I’m sure you guessed... things got worse.

Well for starters, the cheating progressively got worse. It went from kissing and texting to (in a few short months) lying about where he was, going to girls’ houses. Now, reminder I was only 14 during all of this. Young, naive, in love. Dangerous combo. I stayed. I loved him, he wanted to protect my “purity”. Makes sense? But, he had me tied around his finger like a puppet. He could make me kick anyone out of my life. Longtime friends, family. Until he got me alone. He was all I had. Completely dependent on him. How dumb was I to stay? Well, pretty dumb.

Because time goes on and he wants more. Nudes is the next step. I was scared, I had never done anything like this. I wasn’t comfortable. But, according to him, if I wanted to be safe then I had to. So I did. Surprise, surprise. I stayed. He realized the control he had on me so he wanted even more. He made me stay home from school a lot to do the things he wanted when he wanted to. My nudes would be spread if I didn’t, exposed to my family and friends. But he’s my boyfriend, he loves me! “This is what girlfriends do! What kind of girlfriend are you?! Do you even love me?? Am I not good enough for you? You know I’m the best you’ll ever get right? Nobody would even love you like I have.” I hated the things that I had loved about him. A way with words, charming. 14 year old I was convinced. I couldn’t lose him. There’s nobody else.

He had done what he wanted. After months of cheating, being forced into sex, being forced to stay home from school to do his dirty deeds, forcing myself to not let out cries as he would text me “I’m going to ___ house to have sex, I know it makes you cry so I’m doing this to save your purity”, forcing myself to get up in the mornings and survive in the mess that I let happen. I didn’t recognize how bad the emotional abuse was until it was long over and I opened up about him. It was like the Stockholm syndrome. I never knew it was as bad as it was until I had left. He was my boyfriend, he loved me right? No. I was his toy.

My emotional abusive relationship was draining my mental, emotional and even physical health. And I was so blind in him I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see him pushing everyone way from me, I couldn’t see it in the comments he made about my appearance or the way he talked about other girls. Emotional abuse is just as important as physical, and deserves the same amount of awareness. Because most survivors don’t realize the mess they were in until they’re out of it.

But I survived, I lived on, I rode the waves of the storm in the sea. It’s possible, there is help out there. I wish I would have got it before things got too far, before I was so broken it took years to piece back together. You can do this. YOU ARE STRONGER!