‘His hands were like the devil. They dragged me down to hell to become his mistress. I wasn’t ready to die.’: Woman declares her abuser ‘no longer has power over me, I am a survivor’

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“I always wondered how I was going to die, until one humid night in Hawaii, I almost got my answer. There were so many things I wanted to do before I met death that night. I wanted to see my family one last time, I wanted to hold them and tell them how much I loved them. A list of everything I wanted to do and say flashed before my eyes, until everything stopped, and there was nothing but silence and darkness.

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

Like every fairytale, the first few chapters are beautiful and enchanting. But the plot always thickens and the monsters come out to rattle the lives of the ones who are in love. My story was much like that, the first couple of months were everything I could ever have imagined. He was my prince charming and I was convinced the monsters would never come to haunt us, but I was wrong, the monsters did come, and the monster was him. He turned into the very thing that I was terrified of, he was the monster that came to defeat me.

I moved to Hawaii for a new start. I went to detox from the hustle and bustle of the mainland noise. Instead, I ended up finding him and the moment I saw him, I instantly fell for his trap. I was barely 21 and he was 33. He was Portuguese, born on the island, alluring hazel eyes and always walked with his head held high and his chest puffed out. We first met at a restaurant bar. I was sitting with a friend when he came strolling in, greeting everyone he walked by as if he was royalty, everyone seemed to bow at his feet. He came up to the bar and shot me a glance with a confident smirk on his face. My eyes met his, and I was immediately hooked. My friend leaned over and told me his name and said that he was a cop and was well known in Waikoloa (the town) we lived in. He said they called him the ‘King of Waikoloa.’ All hail the King.

Later that night, as the bar was closing, he rounded everyone up and told them to meet at his house. He built a bar in his living room, he was the life of the party and never wanted the party to stop. He came over and personally invited my friend and me, so we went too. Eventually, everyone started to dwindle out, and soon enough it was just him and me. He made some drinks and we sat at the end of his bar and got to know each other. Our hands met, then our lips, we were inseparable from that night on. Little did we know the disaster and hell that we were about to create.

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

Since day one, he used his powers to draw me in, and then drugged me with his lies. I felt as if something was off, I felt it in my gut, bubbling, and boiling, trying to get my attention, but I chose to ignore all the warning signs. I denied all the red flags, and the voice in the back of my head that was begging me to run. I was already attached to him so, every day I shrugged off the negative feelings and tried to persuade myself that they were nothing more than eager nerves.

In the beginning, we had beautiful moments. We took day trips across the island, we had beach days and whiskey nights, he romanced me in ways that I had never experienced before, constant gifts and trips, and surprises every day. I’m not sure the exact moment when things started to go wrong, but they slowly got worse. He gave me silent treatments when I didn’t meet his expectations, he treated and talked to me like I was a child, an object or a trophy rather than a woman. He always tried to convince me by constantly repeating, ‘You’re family is a hindrance. You should never see them again, they’re a huge pain in the ass.’

He was a predator who wouldn’t ever see himself for who he was. He preyed on the weak, he devoured anyone who was in his path. He captured me and fed off me for such a long time and as a result of his greediness, he almost killed me. He possessed me into believing that everything he did was because of me, that it was always my fault he hit me, lied to me, cheated on me, deceived me, almost killed me, and then punished me more for it. He drilled into my head time and time again that I was the reason why I suffered the consequences of his reactions, of his insecurities, of his drunken rage. In his eyes, I was the root, and I was always the cause, and I spent years convinced that I got what I ‘deserved.’ He didn’t allow me to defend myself but when I tried, no one in the world would’ve gotten madder than he did when he was accused of something he definitely did.

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

He made me feel like I was no one. He took my voice away, my emotions, my dignity, even my basic human rights. He controlled what I wore, what I looked like, what and when I drank and ate, to whom and when I talked, he controlled my every move, my every word. To him, I was a doll, not a human. I was on strings, and he was my puppet master and when he pulled, I came swinging. He took me away from my family, isolated me and stripped me naked from everything I once had. He spread rumors about me and then never defended my name. He played the victim, and told the island that I was the ‘crazy one.’ He put words in my mouth, he criticized my thoughts and demeaned my emotions. He insulted me, he constantly dug the knife deeper and put me down, and left me feeling worthless, depressed and suicidal. He destroyed and mocked my beliefs, my family, my appearance, my talents, and my life. He told me that, ‘no one will ever love me but him.’ In his eyes, my bruises were never there, my cuts never existed, blood was never shed. He never saw what he did, he never took accountability.

When I got caught up in his storm, all his chaos, excitement and destruction, I didn’t realize that I sold my soul to him until it was too late. His hands were like the hands of the devil: strong, overpowering, possessive. They choked me and dragged me down to hell with him to become his mistress. He was the Master of Hell, and when he offered me a cup of poison, I chugged it, and he became a flesh-eating virus that no one had a cure for; devouring me, torturing me, making me melt down to nothing but bones. I was too scared to cry out in fear that he wouldn’t let me see the light of day again. So I kept it inside myself, begging for a cure, screaming for help, pleading for someone to take that pain away but I took his cup willingly and I couldn’t stop drinking from it. He made it addictive. I fell for his lies that told me the pain I was feeling was normal, that it was all okay. I became so attached to him that all I could do was accept my fate and then dove down further into Hell with him.

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

I never felt complete with him. He was the fire and I was his kindling. He took pieces of me and fed them to his fire that kept him alive. He turned everything against me and took pieces of me slowly, carefully, stealthily and with such a steady hand that I didn’t notice anything missing or how empty and broken I was until it was too late; until I had nothing left. He wanted it that way though, he wanted me naked, broken and crippled, all to himself with no distractions and no way of running away from him. He wanted me to have nothing but him. He played mind games and he knew exactly where to stab me and when to twist the knife even deeper. He believed that he was the only authority that had permission to determine my reality and made me question myself, my thoughts, my feelings, even things that happened to me. He knew my passions, my fears, my insecurities, he knew how my blood pumped. He knew me better than I knew myself, and he used it against me. He expected me to be perfect 24/7, I wasn’t allowed to have bad days. He would never allow me to speak my mind, or to share my thoughts or feelings and started a fight whenever I said anything that he disagreed with. I wasn’t allowed to speak around him unless I was drunk, or unless I was spoken to.

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

I eventually had to move off the island. He stalked me, bribed me, tried everything to manipulate his way back into my life. But there was the last straw – he went too far one night. He shook me awake after he came back from the bar. When I saw his eyes, I knew something bad was about to happen. Whenever he got in his physical, drunken rages, his eyes went black and distant, as if he was possessed. After he woke me up, he grabbed me by my shoulders and pulled me out of bed while shaking me and screaming, ‘You have no f*****g idea what I’m capable of, and you keep pushing me to do this to you.’ He threw me against the wall, squeezed my face in one hand while the other wound up, getting ready to hit me. He slurred every insulting name in the book and then sent a blow to my face. I touched my fingers where he had hit me and then reached my hands out to his, as if a loving touch would make him calm down, it didn’t. He threw my hands off and pinned them to the wall and growled,’You’re f*****g worthless…’ A punch to the face and then a shove against the wall. ‘No one will ever love you, you disgust me.’ Another hit to the face.

He then picked me up by my neck, and threw me on the bed. He crawled on top of my chest and wrapped his coarse hands around my neck and squeezed as he shook me up and down as hard as he could. He muttered over and over again like a broken record, ‘You’re such a waste of breath. You’re such a waste of breath. I. Hate. You. I. Hate. You. You’re such a waste of breath.’ I grabbed his hands, his wrist, I kicked, I scratched, I tried everything to try and wake him from his trance, but his eyes just kept turning darker and his hands just got tighter.

I always wondered how I was going to die. I wasn’t ready; I wanted to see my family, I wanted to hold them all, and tell them how much I loved them. Memories and wishes kept racing through my mind until it all stopped and there was nothing but silence and darkness. Was it over? Was I dead? Suddenly ringing came back into my ears then there is air, a gasp of breath! Light crept in through my flickering eyelids and I finally came to. I was alive. I don’t know how long I was unconscious for, but when I came to, he was off my chest and chucking things at me, finding anything he could grab to throw at my already bruising body. I was in shock, I was frozen, I couldn’t move until he left the room. That night, I finally packed my life up in 5 rubbish sacks and left. I finally understood what his neighbors were warning me about all those years. When they all warned me and were telling me to run.

5 years of knowing him, he never went away. Images of him were constantly in my head, they mocked me, tortured me on his behalf. I wanted to erase him, erase my entire past, erase all the bruises and scars that he left. I wanted to erase everything so badly. I wanted revenge. I eventually lost hope in karma and justice, I believed that they were just a part of the perfect fairytale version of a story. But I couldn’t spend the rest of my life obsessing over the injustice of our story. I couldn’t live my life wondering if he would ever suffer the consequences of his actions, that’s not what my life is about. Revenge is no longer in my plans, I’m not going to be a slave to his abuse any longer.

He made me hate the person I was back then, I loathed that girl. I hated who I was for the longest time because of his abuse. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror because I blamed myself for everything. But since I’ve been away from his grasp, I’ve learned that losing him was the best thing that ever happened. He was a lesson, never a lover, and now I’m learning to let go of the illusion that anything could have been different between him and me.

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

When I was with him and for many years after, I turned to alcohol for a crutch. I needed numbness, I needed an escape, so I became very dependent on the only thing that gave me that. But, it only got worse and I soon realized I needed help, so I checked myself into residential treatment. The most important lesson that I learned during the 87 days I was there, was the lesson about self-love. I wrote a letter to the person I was when I was dating him. I warned her, I forgave her, and I loved her. Learning to be gentle with ourselves is a hard lesson to learn, it’s always easier said than done, but once you do, it is an incredibly freeing and beautiful feeling. Here’s what I wrote to my younger self:

‘Don’t be fooled, love. Please keep your eyes open and your guard on. He’s not who you think he is. He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, my dear. Soon that romance stage will crumble and he’ll start controlling you, hurting you, making you feel so little, that you won’t be anything more to him than a tiny ant in his eyes. He’s going to start turning you against yourself and he’ll take everything from you, and you’ll be so scared of him that you might not stop him. My darling, it’s okay and I’m so sorry. Don’t forget to love and be gentle with yourself at this time. You’ll lose yourself for a little while, but you’ll never be alone, I’ll always be there for you, feeding you strength, giving you power. Remember that I love you. You. Are. Loved. Remember to love yourself on your darkest days, remember that you are greater than his harsh words, remember that you are beautiful despite what he says. And most importantly, remember to never surrender to him. I’m so sorry that we lost the way. I’m sorry that we weren’t strong enough to fight him off. I’m sorry that we didn’t use our voice or that I couldn’t protect you back then. I’m sorry that I hated you so intensely and that I wanted you to die. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: we will end up winning! There will come a time when you are going to be so much stronger and braver than he is and we will gain a different kind of revenge and peace. There will be a time when he will no longer be in control of our emotions or steal the safety of our mind. We will defeat him, Kelsey. He will become the ant and we will finally be the giant. I’m sorry we went through this, but I promise that we will come out of this a stronger and more resilient person. You will come out of this alive and empowered. You will be a warrior. Stay strong, my love. We will win!’

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

Now that I’ve been away from his claws, I’ve had time to heal. I’ve been sober for almost 5 months (and counting)! He no longer controls my thoughts, I see my family almost every day, and I can genuinely say I love myself more than ever. All the pieces he stole from me, every piece he took to feed his fire, his ego, his sickness, he can keep. I have new ones that are starting to flourish. I feel them coming back. I can feel the empty spaces inside of me, like a missing hole where a tooth used to be, a place where something once lived and existed. I’m starting to feel everything he took filling in those empty spaces and starting to grow, pulling themselves back together and they are coming back stronger, smarter, empowered, beautiful, craving freedom and thriving!

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

I left that story with nothing, he took all of those pieces and almost my life on multiple occasions but he no longer has power over me. I know who he really is and what he is truly capable of. Self-love and self-care is how I’m taking my power back and owning my story is the bravest thing I can do. And thanks to him, I now have more fight in me than ever before. I am whole. I am alive. I am a survivor. I am out of his fire!”

Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson
Courtesy of Kelsey Gregerson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelsey Gregerson of Eagle Mountain, Utah. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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