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Love Is Respect

Unfortunately, no one is immune from dating violence and abuse. defines dating abuse as "a pattern of coercive intimidating or manipulative behaviors used to exert power and control over a partner." But all patterns have to start somewhere. The first sign of abuse may be an indication of the cycle to come, the first sign is a sign to leave. Dating violence isn’t just physical, abuse can come in many forms: financially, verbally, or emotionally. Some signs of abuse may be obviously seen, like physical harm. Other forms may not leave physical marks, like emotional abuse. Regardless if there are physical signs or not, abuse is never okay. I have permission to share a story from someone who was one in an abusive relationship, and it wasn’t until she left, that she truly saw all the signs. If you need more information or are looking for help please visit or


Trigger warning as this story talks about abuse:

I had just graduated high school, I was starting a new relationship, young and in love, or so I thought. It started out fun, I felt happy and excited to start this new adventure. But I would soon find myself trapped in a vicious cycle of what I now know was abuse. He never hit me, he never pushed me, he never caused any physical harm, but the emotional bruises he left were just as real.

I first warning sign I remember was something that I thought was minor but would lead to years of trauma and low self-esteem. We had a fight, I honestly don’t remember what it was even about. I was talking to a friend on my Facebook messenger just looking for some advice and encouragement, “girl-talk.” Later that day, he was acting very weird, standoffish and I had no idea why. Then told me he figured out my password and logged in to my FB to read my messages. I felt so betrayed, and at first, I waited for an apology. Instead he turned this into my fault.  He thought it was awful of me to talk to my friend about him. He found a way to convince me that him looking at the messages, without my permission, wasn’t a big deal. He made sure I understood that I shouldn’t talk about him unless it’s to say good things. I ended up apologizing for betraying his trust.

He loved to be center of attention especially when it was because he was making fun of me. He was allowed to do what he wanted, but he didn’t want me with my family or friends unless he approved of them. I had to change my entire wardrobe to dress how he felt was appropriate if I wanted to be seen with him in public. He cheated with at least 5 different people, but I always came back. He would apologize, he would be nice for a few days or weeks and then it would start again. One night, after we had been out with his friends, he got very drunk, he wanted to have sex, I did not. He was making me feel uncomfortable. He pushed and pushed saying if I loved him I would do what he wanted, tried to grab me, made me feel guilty for not having sex with him. I walked away that night feeling ashamed because I didn’t want to let him touch me the way he wanted. Drunk or sober, if I say no, it means no. I now understand trying force me to have sex, even after I say no, is a form of abuse.

Looking back on it, the last straw for me was probably something most would see as insignificant. He was in law enforcement; he worked the night shift and every other weekend. I saw very little of him. One night I just wanted to get out for a bit. All of my friends were busy, and he was working, so I decided to go out alone. I went to a local sports bar, I remember ordering a plate of nachos and watching the Penn State game. No one bothered me, I wasn’t looking to talk to anyone, I wasn’t trying to find someone to flirt with, I just wanted to go out, have a drink, eat nachos, and watch football. When I told him I went out, he was furious. His exact words “Girls only go out to the bar alone if they want one thing…” I was dumbfounded! He was the one who cheated multiple times but was saying I was looking for sex from someone else?? That was it, a few weeks later we broke up, and suddenly I felt free. It was a 7 year on again off again relationship. But once it ended I realized I was more upset because I allowed him to have so much control over me for such a long time, I wasn’t upset the relationship ended. Finally, I was safe. I was ready to spend time learning more about myself and what type of person I wanted to be.

The signs were there of emotional abuse: he isolated me, logged into my accounts without permission, put me down to make himself feel better, tried to use sex as a weapon and was extremely insecure and jealous. I was being controlled and hurt by his actions and words. I wish I had listened to all the little voices in my head that sounded off the warning bells. It took a long time for me to hear those bells but I made it out, and I’m not ashamed of my story. No matter what he tried to do to keep me down, in the end, I stood tall and I was able to walk away.

Now, I’m in a healthy relationship, full of love, mutual respect, and happiness. Everyday isn’t perfect but every day I am loved and none of my days are living in fear or uncertainty. I’m free to be myself, I found someone who loves me the way I deserve. If this story reaches one person, I hope you listen to the voices sounding off the warning alarm, see the red flags, realize you are a whole person without someone else. You are strong. You deserve to be happy and to feel loved without any strings attached. Love is respect, love is never violence or abuse or any kind. Please reach out to someone if you need help. You are wonderful just the way you are… You deserve true healthy love!

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