An astonishing amount of women suffer in silence through emotional and domestic abuse and while this is addressed – definitely not as effectively as it could be – a lot of the people under the radar, seem to be teenagers. Teenage relationships, as we all know, can be particularly intense, with hormones flying around and first sexual encounters, but this does not mean that it’s acceptable for boys, older boys particularly, to be able to (in this case, copy his father) be abusive and get away scot-free. If this behaviour is acceptable from a teenage boy, then that teenage boy will grow into a man and the chances are, he will think he can carry on in exactly the same way, sometimes with devastating or fatal consequences.
I have a group of five amazingly brilliant best friends and out of the six of us – including myself – three of us have suffered through emotional abuse during relationships in our teenage years. That in itself is absolutely shocking.
My story began when I was only fourteen years old, with a boyfriend a few years older than me, but certainly not any wiser. It began with a bit of possessiveness and with him being very controlling. He would decide what I would wear (literally measuring my skirts and tops with a ruler or tape measure) then he stopped me from seeing my friends, particularly (God forbid) male friends. I had to save the phone numbers of my male friends in my phone under fake girl names and even that didn’t have him 100% convinced.
He would essentially keep me prisoner in his bedroom over entire weekends and entire school holidays. (I know what you’re thinking – why didn’t my parents do anything? They did keep in contact of course and encourage me to come home as much as possible but to them I seemed happy and of course, what teenager would listen to their parents?) He would go out to see friends, go to the pub, go on driving lessons whilst I was sat in his bedroom staring at the same four walls and watching the same DVDs on repeat.
I would constantly have it drummed into my head that he loved me and he was the only one who did. If I was to ever leave him, I would be alone forever because I was fat and ugly and why would any man ever want me? Luckily, I have always been pretty self confident, but this did get to me. I began to believe the things he was saying to me and formed a very unhealthy attachment to him. I didn’t want to go anywhere without him and I would do everything I possibly could to make him happy. The thought of losing him made me feel like my world would end.
Unfortunately for me, this led to domestic abuse, hitting, throwing around the room and once I even ended up ‘falling’ down the stairs after a scuffle and an apparently ‘accidental’ shove. I was with this guy three years before I realised what an absolute idiot I had been listening to his crap. I walked away and haven’t looked back since.
In hindsight, I look back and think, what the hell do you mean I was fat and ugly and no man would ever want me? I was certainly neither of those things and I’m sure I could cope if men didn’t ‘want’ me, after all, I was created as an individual, not just for the pleasure of Tom, Dick or Harry. Fortunately, I quickly recovered from this horrendous time in my life and bounced back with the same amount of confidence and twice as much determination. If the Spice Girls taught me anything as a child, it was Girl Power, right?!
The danger with emotional abuse, aside from of course it leading to domestic violence, is the amount of women and girls who suffer in silence, often putting it down to a mutual disagreement or a ‘fight where he got the better of you.’ If you’re in a relationship like this, or know anyone who is, it’s vital that they receive the help and advice they need before it destroys their life or escalates. A relationship is supposed to be based on mutual love and respect and emotional, mental or physical abuse is certainly neither loving nor respectful. Women are not doormats for abusive, cowardly men!