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Graphic by Victoria Bishop-Smith.

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors and others.

If you love me, you’d do this. Don’t tell your family about our arguments, they already hate me. I don’t know why, Julie, but sometimes I like making you upset. You better not cry. Sex is an important part of a relationship, if you care you’d do this.

I didn’t want to admit what he did to me was not consensual. 

It was sexual abuse.

It was February 14 2020. I was getting ready for a date with my now ex-boyfriend. As I got ready, I was dreading what mood he would be in.

That was the thing with him. One day, he’d be incredibly loving and caring to me, and the next day, he would call me names and treat me like I was his enemy. 

He didn’t say hello to me when I got in the car. He gave me no compliments on my outfit or acknowledgment of the effort I put into getting ready. The night before, he made a hurtful comment to me, and when I voiced my opinion, he got mad. I assumed he was putting me on ice for saying he hurt my feelings.

He was even worse at the restaurant. 

He pushed me when I was in a person’s way. When I told him not to push me, he defensively said, “I DIDN’T PUSH YOU.” I was too anxious and upset to eat. 

He kept making comments about how bad I was making him look and how people were staring. Other couples in the restaurant gave me sympathetic looks whenever he left our table. 

He raised his voice at me in the car when we left. He said I ruined his night and he wanted to go home. 

Something switched in my brain, and I’d finally had enough. I opened the car door and told him I never wanted to see him again. I started to walk home in the cold, sobbing to myself on Valentine’s Day.

You don’t realize you’re in an abusive relationship until you feel in over your head. My ex-boyfriend became unrecognizable. He used to be so kind.

Slowly, he started making me feel less-than. He began to scare me. 

I was mortified to tell my loved ones what he was saying to me, and I feared what would happen to me. 

That night, as I walked home, so many memories flooded into my mind that I wanted to let out. I remembered the nights where he would get so mad at me and get blackout drunk and how I would worry myself sick about him.

I recall the times where he took money from me. 

There were times when he cheated on me and called me names. 

And the times where I wondered if what was happening was consensual or not.

I had a family member pick me up, and I told them everything that happened. My ex-boyfriend called me countless times screaming and told me I ruined everything. I was called a b****, an idiot, crazy. 

Even though he was saying all these things, I finally felt free.

Leaving was such a hard decision, but I’m so glad I did. I didn’t know I was being abused.

I convinced myself for so long that we were going through rough patches, and I had to stay with him to help him get better. 

Shortly after I left him, the pandemic started, and I felt really alone. He showed up at my house, and I had to call the police countless times because he was cyber-stalking me and harassing me. 

I felt ashamed to tell people in my life what was happening.

It took me months to talk about the trauma he caused me. I wasn’t ready to admit he was emotionally abusing and sexually coercing me. 

I didn’t want to talk about the nightmares where he was hurting me. I didn’t want to discuss the fear I had whenever I would step outside my house because I was afraid he would be there. His words constantly ran through my head. 

I felt like I couldn’t escape, but I could. I did.

Here I am over a year later, and I am so happy that I left. 

I started seeing a counselor through school, and it has been helping so much. I’m finally beginning to take care of myself for once and to process what happened to me. 

For so long, I thought it was my fault that he did those things to me, but that’s not true.

It is the abuser’s fault. 

I’m finally able to say he was abusive, and everything he did to me was his fault and not mine. 

During my capstone course for school, I thought about all the people who are stuck with their abusers at home or people who aren’t ready to admit that what they are experiencing is abuse.

The pandemic has isolated everyone, and we have all felt alone. No one should ever have to go through this alone, and everyone deserves healing, comfort and help.

I decided to bring the Clothesline Project and virtual panel to campus, so that as a community, we can stand in solidarity with survivors of abuse and provide resources for survivors who are ready to come forward or need insight as to what abuse is and how they can get away from it.

I wanted this to be an opportunity for others, and I wanted to provide a support system for survivors who may not have that at home. The Clothesline Project is for survivors to share their stories and for individuals to send kind messages to survivors to show their support and care.

If you have ever questioned the words and actions of your partner or a loved one, you are not alone. 

If they ever made you feel unsafe or undeserving of respect, they’re wrong. It is not your fault. 

It is not your job to stay with them. You deserve to surround yourself with people who love you, want the best for you and will always respect your boundaries. 

The Saint Peter’s community is so strong and is here for you. I’m here for you, and I will always offer my support. I will always be here for you. I will always believe you.

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