I come from a loving and supportive family, I have lots of friends and I am not someone you would consider unintelligent.
But know this: one does not have to be dumb to fall for the wrong person.
When I was 18 I had just started university and I was full of energy and life and I was very impressionable. Six months into my degree, I met a man five years older than me.
We dated for awhile before he moved in, I saw less and less of my friends because he called them immature and not ‘his sort of people’. His family was negative and not supportive, his stepfather was horrible and his real father wanted very little to do with him.
Over the course of five years, I went from being bubbly to downright depressed. This man managed to crush all of my personality and make me believe that I deserved it, when I was only ever supportive.
I tried to help him get into university, I sat down with him and helped with all of his assignments, he couldn’t be bothered. He next decided he would get an apprenticeship and I spent weeks looking for jobs and writing his CV; he lost interest.
This man told me I was overweight when I was 178cm and 65kg. He would not let me go out in public without make-up in case we saw someone he knew. He would tell me I looked tired, or that I looked fat or simply that I just looked plain awful.
This man had a gambling addiction. At first it was just a few hundred dollars every so often (which I thought was terrible as it was), it then turned into hundreds, then to thousands and one day it was over ten thousand. He quit his job and told me he was making enough money gambling. I tried to change his mind. I was embarrassed by his choice. I cried every day. I lied to my family, saying he was still working because I was so ashamed. My parents would visit and I would make up an excuse so they would not come inside and see him there.
As the gambling got worse, so did the emotional abuse. If he lost, it was my fault, he would scream at me every day. I was trying to study and he would be yelling at me and blaming me. My friends at university never met him but they knew how unhappy I was. They would ask if we had something in common and I would reply, “no.” They would ask if I was happy and I would reply, “no.”
It is hard to explain to someone why I stayed. He would threaten to kill himself if I left because he had nothing else in life. I was truly worried that if I did leave he would and it would be all my fault.
Towards the end, the physical abuse started. He would lose a bet and throw something at the wall, usually a phone, a wallet and one day my calculator, which I was using to study with at the time. Then he started throwing them at me because I would be crying.
He would tell me to shut up and that I had no reason to cry because it was him that had lost. He would then push me or throw me on the bed. I tried to tell him he was hurting me but he did not care.
I tried to get him to quit, I spent hours every day researching online, wondering if I was alone, because I felt so very, very alone. I love my family but due to shame I didn’t think I could tell them, didn’t think I could ask for help.