Her Story – Feature 6

I met my abuser while I was in my last year of University. He came to the University to talk about safety for women on campus. I was impressed that he was so outraged by how dangerous campus life was for women. He wanted all women to learn self-defence, and become aware of ways to keep themselves safe.

On our first date he talked endlessly about the type of person that would hurt women and how they should be treated once they are caught. We became close very quickly and he would check up on me constantly just to make sure I wasn’t walking around the campus alone late at night. His calls would start with “where are you?”, “who are you with?”, “what are you doing?” then it would go into how much he missed me and hoped we could see each other soon. In the beginning this was very endearing.

Three months after we started dating he asked me to move in with him. He explained that this was to keep me safe as I would no longer need to walk on campus late at night. I thought he was so sweet, always thinking about my safety. We moved in together and he took me everywhere I needed to go and picked me up when I was finished. This was nice at first, but then he started getting mad when I was late or if he came to get me and if I was speaking to anyone he’d want to know who they were and what we were talking about and he wanted all the details. This questioning was worse if I was talking to a male. Then he’d start telling me my dress was too short or my pants was too tight. In the mornings he’d also started telling me which outfit I shouldn’t wear and if I didn’t listen we’d fight about it all day long and he’d still be upset about it at night.

Even though we were now living together, he was still calling me regularly throughout the day and asking me who I was with, where I was and what I was doing…if I didn’t answer my phone, that would also cause an argument. I began to feel suffocated…I realized I was reporting every move before I made them and wearing clothes he told me to just so I would prevent an argument. I didn’t like where this relationship was going. One evening he told me I couldn’t hang out with my friends unless he was invited. I told him that was crazy and he just slapped me across the face…

This was the respected man whose job was a position of responsibility and trust, who spoke passionately about keeping women safe and what should be done to perpetrators who hurt women. I could not believe it…he apologized immediately and promised me he’d never done that before and will never do it again. I let it go…I forgave him.

The next few months were bliss. I began to wonder if he’d really hit me and the memory faded as I once again settled into our relationship. He was again his wonderful self, kind, gentle, romantic, loving and always thought about me and my needs. Then one night we were getting dressed to have dinner with friends and I wouldn’t take off a dress he didn’t like. He tried to explain to me the dress made me look like a fat whore. I told him I was going to wear the dress anyway and he got very angry…he went to the bathroom and returned with the scissors, grabbed me and started pulling my dress off, I struggled and he picked me up and threw me against the wall, he then proceeded to cut my dress into shreds right off my body. We had to cancel our dinner as I ended up in the hospital with a broken arm. I later learned that he told our friends I tripped on the stairs in my sexy shoes and broke my arm.

He apologized once again and this time told me that this was my own fault, that if I hadn’t insisted on wanting to wear a dress that made me look terrible he wouldn’t have lost his temper. According to him, he only wanted what was best for me and couldn’t understand why I would want to insist on wearing something he thought was so inappropriate.

I wanted to talk to my friends about what was happening but wasn’t sure how to start that conversation. I knew that hitting me when he was angry wasn’t right. I also knew I couldn’t stay in a relationship where someone was hitting me. I needed to leave and I needed to do it quickly so he wouldn’t find out I was leaving.

One month later I moved into my new apartment on campus. The first night I turned off my phone as he kept calling me, even after I told him I no longer wanted to be in a relationship with him and that I no longer wanted to speak to him. The next night he was banging on my apartment door insisting that I let him in or he will break down the door. I called the police and they took him away. He showed up the next night…and the next…then started showing up during the daytime, standing outside my class room. One minute he was there, the next minute he was not, then he’d show up again. This went on for two weeks, I could no longer concentrate on my classes and was not sleeping well at night. My fear was that he’d follow through on his threat and break down my apartment door and come inside.

After one month of living in my new apartment, I broke my lease, dropped out of University and moved back home.