‘You kicked me. You hit me. You controlled me. You isolated me. You criticized me. You bullied me. You blamed me. You made me feel like it was all my fault. I believed you.’

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“I was 14. You were 17. I saw your Facebook profile through mutual friends. I added you because I thought you were so cute at the time. So many girls wanted you, but they didn’t know the real you. We started talking and I snuck to see you because my mom wasn’t okay with your age. That first night you moved really fast and tried making out with me. I felt so uncomfortable, but you stopped after the third time of me asking you to. Things were okay. I didn’t see it as a red flag. You later asked me to be your girlfriend over a Facebook message and I was more than excited to say yes.

You were awesome to me. You had a few issues, but I thought I could fix you. I snuck over to your house more and more while saying I was elsewhere. One night when I told you I couldn’t keep sneaking behind my mom’s back, you punched the wall right next to my head. I cried and I apologized. One night when I was so upset because I uncovered that you were doing sexual things with another girl, I got angry and told you I was done and that you were an awful person. You hit me and told me to never speak to you like that again. I apologized. I never told a soul. Later on, you hit me again because we were arguing. I apologized. You started to scare me. You were a ‘shy’ person but when you were angry, you were angry.

You were so controlling. It started with my replies. If they weren’t quick enough you spammed my phone with text after text and call after call. Then it was who I encountered and spoke with in person. You made me call you anytime somebody outside of my immediate household spoke to me, so you could hear everything. When I was at your house, if your sister would talk to me, you would yell at me in the other room for responding to her without permission. I apologized. I can’t even tell you how badly I wish I had left you then. I cannot tell you how badly I wish I never even sent you a friend request. I was spineless.

Jenica Walczak

You have called me every single name in the book. You degraded me and ingrained in me that I was worthless. Worthless and pathetic, and would tell me, ‘You think anybody actually gives a sh*t about you? You’re lucky I still keep you around.’ I always told my mom I was staying somewhere else whenever I went to see you. She knew I was lying, but she couldn’t prove it. She once caught me in the act when she got a call from the hospital. A neighbor had called 911 because you used my seizure disorder against me and said I had had a seizure when I didn’t. You pushed me down on our walk back to your house because I said I just wanted to go home and I hit my head on the sidewalk, so you had to cover it up. She caught me talking to you a couple times. She yelled at me for it. My sister and brother were both angry at me for it because I was tearing our family apart. The entire time my mom was yelling, I was yelling inside to please do something. I needed help. But I was too afraid to say anything.

You had this control over me and I don’t know why I let you. One night, you told me to walk with you. It was late and cold, but I didn’t dare disobey your orders. When we were walking, you suddenly grabbed my hair and slammed my face into a wooden light pole because a guy I knew from high school had commented on my status in response to another comment, and you assumed it meant I was cheating on you. I apologized to you and deleted him immediately. You only scraped my forehead and my nose bleed stopped that night, so I thought I could hide it from my mom, but she saw it and asked what happened. I made up the dumbest story about playing hide and seek in the dark and running into a tree and tried to fake laugh my hardest so she believed me. I became distant from everybody.

You threatened me if I spoke to certain people. I destroyed relationships with my mom, my sister, my brother, my two best friends in the entire world. All because of you. It’s also my fault for allowing you to get in my head. Every friendship after that I destroyed in a matter of weeks because you just wouldn’t let me stop. You made me use all of them and I was too embarrassed to apologize to any of them, but I apologized to you when I didn’t have any friends left to use. You went through and deleted half my friends on Facebook one day. They were gone if they were a guy, family included. It made you mad that I even still had guys on my Facebook. You beat me worse than you had before laterthat night for not taking the initiative to delete them sooner. I apologized.

I was looking for ways out. I swallowed a ton of my seizure medication, the entire bottle, then panicked over leaving my family when they all thought I didn’t care for them or loved them, so I forced myself to throw up. Eventually, all I wanted to do was sleep. I stopped everything I ever wanted in life. No more sports. No more youth group. I cried every single night and that’s not an exaggeration. Every time I walked to the complete other side of town, up a giant hill, in the dark to stay at your house, I hoped and prayed I would get hit by a car even if it only injured me because at least I wouldn’t have to see you for a while. One time when I was walking to your house an officer stopped me and asked if I was okay because it was pouring, midnight, and I was 15 years old walking up a hill. I said I was fine and tried not to look in his eyes. I so badly wished to break down and tell him everything. Tell him to take you away and save me, but I was afraid of previous threats you made if I ever told a soul. You never cared about the weather or my safety, you just wanted me there to control and take out your anger on.

I failed my college classes when I first started. I stopped showing up and constantly said class was cancelled or I felt sick, because you would wait outside the building doors and make me go to your house for the day because there were guys in those classes and my teacher was a guy. You threatened to kill yourself so many times when I tried leaving and told me it would be on me. I apologized and stayed. Any time I tried to leave, you would threaten me, yourself, or my family. When I messaged you and told you I was leaving you, and then blocked you, you sat outside my house and watched me late at night when I took out the garbage can to the alley way and texted me saying you know I just took out the trash and if I leave you then you will kill me and nobody would notice nor would they care.

One of these days that all blurred together, you didn’t listen to my, ‘No, please stop. I don’t want to do that.’ You didn’t listen to my screams. Your dad knocked on the door asking if everything was okay and I went to yell but you covered my mouth and told him to leave us alone. He knew but he never really cared, he did the same to his girlfriend when he was drunk. You had your way with me because you felt entitled to me and that wasn’t the last time. It just continued. But I apologized for crying every time. You kicked me. You pulled my hair. You hit me. You punched me. You pushed me. You controlled me. You isolated me. You criticized me. You bullied me. You blamed me. You made me feel like it was all my fault. I believed you. So many times I tried to get away. I tried to get myself grounded. I tried killing myself. I tried hurting myself. You caused so much pain in my life. You stole so much of my life. And nobody even knew it. I felt so trapped inside. Like I couldn’t do anything about it, that it would never end. I felt this is how life was going to have to be and that maybe, if I hadn’t done this or I hadn’t done that, then you wouldn’t have done what you did. I told so many lies. I hid so many things. I severed so many relationships that I will NEVER get back. I let you take away almost 4 years of my life.

One day, I got a job at McDonald’s. I got it because you needed me to make money for you but that was your worst mistake and my greatest compliance. I saw and heard all of these people’s lives and realized my life didn’t have to be this way. I made friends that didn’t even know you existed and I kept it that way. I felt empowered for the first time in years. I found God again. I found strength again and I left you. I erased every part of you from my phone and Facebook. You stalked my work afterward for about a month, but I made sure to stay inside until my mom picked me up and told my manager what was going on. I blocked you on every level I could and one day you went away and it all stopped. I am not afraid of you anymore.

Jenica Walczak

My heart still does race if you get mentioned or I see you in town, but I still stand tall and I don’t let it shake me. I couldn’t erase you from my memories and I have nightmares but over the years they’ve become less and less. I still cry when things bring back awful flashbacks and that’s okay, but it doesn’t ruin my entire day anymore. I take a moment to feel what I’m feeling and then I’m okay again. You don’t control my mind or my body. I don’t know why I ever stayed. I wish I could take it all back. You destroyed me. What I need to say is that I came back stronger than ever. I am a voice for the voiceless and an advocate for the abused. I have helped so many people get in touch with resources and organizations to escape the life that people like you give them. I have amazing friends and family. A support like no other.

I am married to an amazing guy and have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. For the first 3 years after you, I didn’t tell anybody about it. I felt ashamed at the thought, I still felt like all of it was my fault. But know now, that I am not ashamed anymore, I realized it was not my fault. It was yours and your sick and twisted ways. There is hope for a brighter future, a SAFER future. There is a way out. You are worth more than GOLD, even if you can’t see that. Read the signs, remember the signs, and see the signs. Nobody is worth your mental, emotional, and physical health. I am a domestic abuse and sexual assault/rape survivor, NOT a victim, and I am not ashamed. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Please, no negativity.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, have questions about unhealthy aspects of relationships, or need a list of resources /information, please take a moment and go to www.thehotline.org, if you feel that your web history will be monitored, please call 1−800−799−7233. They have highly trained advocates available 365 24/7 and it’s confidential.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jenica Walczak of Washington. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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