Abuse comes in different forms, and at different times. It can be viral, physical, mental, sexual or emotional. Abuse doesn’t only occur between married couples, or those going through a divorce, It CAN start young.
They say you can’t help who you fall in love with, but sometimes the wrong people fall in love. My best friend fell in love in the ninth grade. She had several desirable characteristics. She was confident, funny, and cute. She could belt huge lyrics that instantly give you chills. My friend and this boy began dating in our freshman year. On the outside, they portrayed an adorable couple, but on the inside something evil was growing. Time went on, and as it did, I watched my friend change. It was a slow, gradual change, but it was there. He showed all the signs of a control freak. Through my friend’s eyes he wasn’t controlling, he was “just protective.” As time went on, he wanted to control more and more things. “You can’t wear tight clothing,” he would say. (Control over clothing, sign one). If she did wear tight clothing, her phone was flooded with texts from him calling her names like, slut. So she stopped wearing tight clothing. Weeks later, I started to hear him tell her she was not allowed to talk to any of her male friends. (Control over association, sign two). Although, when she was not around, he would talk to tons of his female friends. He made their relationship a double standard. What she wasn’t “allowed” to do, he could. As a result, she stopped talking to all of her male friends. While she gave up those friendships, he cheated on her. They broke up, and I thought it was finally over. I knew she deserved better. Little did I know, this was only the beginning.
Even after their relationship ended, he still wanted control over her. He would continue to harass her through text messages when he saw her wearing something he didn’t approve of, talking to another guy, or sometimes for no reason at all. One night a group of us got together. My friend finally started to realize that she was single and did not owe anything to her ex. She started talking to the guy friends she had abandoned. As soon as her ex saw, he came over and threatened that if she did not stop talking to her male friend, he would punch her in the face. (Any kind of threat, sign three). She got scared, and did as he said. Once he felt her slipping from his control, he began to put her down. He would tell her she was ugly and fat, which she is not. (Destruction of self-confidence, sign four). The part that crushed me the most as her best friend, is that fact that she began to believe it. She lost her confidence, she became timid, and panicked that he was always watching her, or that he would find out what she was doing and get mad at her for it. I watched as the group of friends she was once was surrounded by dwindle. No one wanted to be a part of their drama, so they avoided the situation as a whole.
I watched my best friend’s cheery eyes die and become empty. I watched as she lost touch of herself, and unfortunately, I watched her go back to him one too many times. No matter how much I counter argued what he said, and told her time and time again that she did not deserve this treatment, she would not believe me over him. He had already brainwashed her into believing everything he said. He would say,” I love you,” and suddenly all bad that occurred before was erased, and they would begin all over again. Lovey-dovey couple, sign one, sign two, sign three, sign four, all leading to the same end result.
The hard thing about being an outsider looking in is that you can’t change the abusers ways. I couldn’t change the way he chose to treat my best friend, or how he spoke to her. I couldn’t change the names he called her or the adjectives he used to describe her, but I was able to act as a sense of support to her through these hard times and now, I am able to raise awareness of domestic violence among teens. If you are someone who has experienced or knows someone who has experienced even one of these sign, don’t wait until you lose yourself. Contact A Woman’s Place to seek help and support.