I had just turned 17. I had just started college, my driving lessons, I was finally free and excited to start my life as an ‘adult’. I was independent. Or so I thought. I had been working in a pub for just over a year in my small town, I had formed a great relationship with a man that worked there, we were great friends. One night we were texting and having some ‘banter’ and he told me he loved me and I just joked it off as I thought we were best friends.

He sent me aggressive text messages “you stupid bitch” “well you’re just a child anyway” as I hadn’t taken him seriously. I apologized. This ‘man’ was 17, coming into 18. In fact he was not a man at all. I begged for forgiveness, it took him days to unblock me from messaging him, we had a serious chat a work. He told me he did actually like me and in this time I had figured I probably did like him too. We thought we’d ‘give it ago’ a couple of months went past, and everything was perfect. I had fallen in love with him. However all the warning signs were there? I went on a 2 week holiday with my family.

He would ask to see pictures of me every single day, what I was wearing, what I was doing, who I was with. He didn’t understand I was with my mum, my dad and my 3 young siblings. I thought he just cared. When he told me he didn’t like what I was wearing, it was too “revealing” I would change. I wanted him to love me. If I took too long to reply, he would ring me or demand I rang him. Which at the time I thought was just because he missed me and he loved me. When I came back from holiday he turned up at my house early hours and bring me flowers. How sweet, how adorable. He loves me right? Everything was fine again, I go back to college.

At this point we had begun to have arguments because I only had boys in my history class. So every time I had history, he had found out where my class was and he stood outside my class waiting for me to finish, we would walk back to his house and on the 20 minute walk I was subject to “slut” “whore” “slag” “you’re cheating on me” comments. I begged for forgiveness. I hadn’t cheated, I simply just wanted my A-Levels. My best friend of 6 years was a boy. “You’re not friends with him” “he’s a rapist” “he wants to sleep with you” “don’t speak to him anymore”. He would take my phone away from me. He would turn it off. If my boy best friend ever called to find out where I rushed off to, he would hang up and start all the comments again. He would threaten to punch me and “beat the life” out of my best friend.

I was scared. I would sit in silence in case I said anything wrong. At this point I could have told him I had a nice lunch and he would have called me “stupid and pathetic”. I no longer would have sex with him. This is where the sexual abuse started. We would be catching up on EastEnders whilst I sat silently and tried not to cry. He would aggressively pull on my leggings or tights and try to pull them down. Twice I left in the winter in just a dress without tights as he had torn them against my will. He would penetrate me with his fingers and his penis whilst I lay still and cry to go home. He wouldn’t let me. It was his choice when I had to leave.

Usually once he had his fun. I would receive texts daily from different girls telling me they had also been sleeping with him, they had been speaking to him, and he’d taken them for late night drives. He would tell me to block them. He would then take my phone and do it himself. I’d ask him if he could block them also if he wasn’t actually doing anything. He’d tell me not to be so pathetic. He would pin me up against the wall and tell me if I ever broke up with him I’d die. I would go home and text him telling him I was breaking up with him I couldn’t do it any longer. He would turn up to my house and say he’s come to ‘surprise’ me to my family so they would let him in. They had no idea what was going on. I was stuck.

I was admitted to hospital for trying to commit suicide. He refused to speak to the nurses who wanted to give him support and guidance. He didn’t turn up. When I finally got let home. I was under strict supervision from my mum who had to take weeks off of work to look after me. She let me out ONCE and that was with him. He took me for a drive in his car and demanded I kissed him, I told him I didn’t want to. He called me a slut and told me he never loved me and I should have killed myself. He told me it was over. I was heartbroken. He then told everyone at work I had gone crazy and I said I hated all other members of staff? Not true. They all turned on me and I became a subject of bullying. I wasn’t invited to any of the plans. I only had my best girlfriend, who also worked at the pub. Who is now also friends with him and me no longer speak to her.

I now have this ‘man’ blocked on every social media, I’m terrified if I see him out in public. I run. I hide. He makes me sick. But my mental health has never been better. I am now in a relationship with somebody who loves me, and respects me and who treats me properly. I am happy. I am strong. What he did does not define who I am, or my worth, or how pretty I am. I wish I had known this when I was 17.