I was 18 years old when I met the man that I thought was the love of my life, who would protect me unconditionally and love me through thick and thin. He was everything I ever wanted, and soon after meeting by happenstance at a gas station while I was on a road trip, we became lovers and he moved me from Chicago to Virginia. I didn't know anybody there besides him and his family, his friends became our friends. We had nice things, a beautiful house and a sports car, we had pets, life was everything I wanted it to be. But the more comfortable he got, the more I realized what this new-found happiness was costing me. He was 28, 10 years my elder and he knew how to make me feel so small. From the things he would say and questioning everything that I did, I didn't realize that he was abusing me until it was too late. I thought okay though, verbal abuse, whatever, at least hes not hitting me. I want to be a loyal woman and stick with him because weve built a life. The mean names and hurtful thoughts stayed just that until he finally snapped, like every story I had read about verbal abuse. For 3 days, the man that was supposed to be my protector was physically hurting me and had turned into what he was allegedly saving me from. The first day, he slapped me. I deserved it probably, he made me think. He had me so manipulated that I was apologizing for pushing him over the edge and making him do it. The very next day, he dragged me off of our bed and sexually assaulted me. Although we were into role-playing and kinky love making, there was absolutely no consent from me and I was petrified. I sat in silence and fear and took it because that's what good Housewives do. They don't talk back, I thought. The events coming from the third day though, I found myself in intensive care almost dead with my skull cracked open in 3 places, a large stab wound in my arm, bite marks all over my head and face, and a broken nose and orbital bone.
When I tried to call nine-one-one, he smashed my phone and thankfully his cousin heard the commotion and called the police for me. He was arrested, and I was in intensive care completely emotionally destroyed. I had nobody. My family stayed in the dark in Indiana because I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. Three weeks later I was put into a battered women's shelter because he was making calls from jail trying to have somebody find me and finish the job so I wouldn't talk. I moved back to Indiana a month after the incident, and I had the courage a year later to testify in court. I lost my case, and though he was looking at up to 45 years, he got time served and only sat in jail for 16 months.
I lost in court. But that does not mean I lost my battle. I know what happened that day, so does he. But God sees all. I was 18 years old and he changed the way that I look at everything, and everyone. All I wanted was somebody to love, but I know now that I love myself enough. What he gave me was not love. I'm thankful to be alive today to share my story and let others know that walking away does not make you weak. It does not make you a bad partner. It does not undermine your value. It makes you strong, and it can save your life. You follow your gut instinct when the warning signs are there because your life is too precious to let someone else make you think otherwise for even a second.

C. Kroslack