The First Time I Became A Statistic

This post was originally published on Joan of Arc's blog. It has been re-published here with her permission. 

Mine is not an unusual story.

We swiped right on each other and got pizza after he sent an even cheesier pick-up line. I thought we hit it off so well. We both had strong opinions and personalities that it just seemed like the right fit. He said he was a Feminist and I believed him because this is something that you don’t find very often. Things were fun and exciting! I hadn’t dated in awhile and he wanted to take me on new adventures. We carried on casually dating for a week or so and then decided to jump right into a relationship. We felt that deep fire and passion and believed that we were meant to be. I thought this would be a long relationship and that I would be happy. Life throws you some curveballs sometimes though.

The fighting started early.

Amid the instagram posts and countless funny snapchats I was sending everyone, there was an invisible smoke choking me. I believed it was normal to argue every now and then in any healthy relationship. He fed me the lie that it was good to argue because that’s how we got to know each other better. (What kind of twisted logic is that) The yelling and fighting started small, about once a week, and then it began happening multiple times a week. With these catastrophic arguments that would shake walls, I began to have panic attacks. The panic attacks clutched at my soul and I could not leave wherever I was. I was as Avril Lavigne put it, ‘Immobile’. This crippling side effect of an abusive relationship did not light the fire in my gut to run, it held me down and attempted to drown me. It wished keep me under the weight of a thousand stones, one for each thrown at me for various reasons. The room or space that I was in became my cage. I was merely a possession meant to be silenced into submission. I am a strong swimmer but there was no amount of training that could have prepared me for the marathon that was this relationship.

These shouting matches separated me from my friends and family to the point that I almost lost everything. Roommates, friends, family, classmates, teachers, sorority sisters, and co-workers were oblivious to what was happening. No one had any idea that I was not sleeping, eating, working out, doing homework, going to class, going to work, maintaining basic social connections. My absence did not raise any red flags because I maintained a happy face and my infamous sarcasm. The same sarcasm that has gotten me through this. Essentially I was a double agent during these 4 months. My double life was exhausting and it took an enormous toll. With the help of UNC’s Title IX resources and some weirdly cryptic dreams, I was able to leave the relationship.

This started off so normal, my parents liked him and he was nice to me. He made me laugh and feel something deep inside. The hurt that I am left with may never leave and I face that reality every day. Every day I fight off my brain replaying the relationship over, and over, and over, and over. It never ends and it is constantly there. Invisible wounds do not heal like physical wounds.

The end of the relationship and its after effects  were even harder than the relationship itself. The light at the end of this dark tunnel is still far away but the floor lights up with guiding arrows every now and then.