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Oct 21

Sophie’s Story: “Love?”

As a teenager every day is a learning experience. One of my boyfriends taught me everything I now know not to be love. I turned a blind eye to many behaviours I now know to be abuse. He disliked that I bit my nails, so he’s smack me when he caught me doing it. I would go to his family home and he would speak about me in a language I couldn’t understand. He hacked my Facebook account to send him notifications of all my messages with friends. He’d monitor them daily, in class and at home. He’d touch me when I slept. He believed that by being his girlfriend, he had all the consent he needed. But I felt trapped. How can you leave someone who has complete control over you? One evening at school, we were kissing and he wanted to take it a step further. I loved him, I would’ve slept with him in any other situation, but this time? I was scared, I knew it was wrong. I felt uncomfortable. But he forced himself on me anyway. It hurt and I begged him to stop, but it was like he couldn’t hear me. After, he left me as I cried. For 11 months, I told no one, by biggest regret in life is staying with someone who could hurt me like he did. I struggled a lot throughout our relationship with my mental health. Our fights left me feeling so alone. I would hurt myself. I wanted to die.

But he also made me happy and I was young. Every time I left him, he’d alienate me, he forced all our mutual friends to choose a side, and it was never mine. So I stayed with him. But one day, I finally decided to end things with him, a part of me couldn’t love him and I knew why. He demanded to know why I ended it. I told him that I couldn’t get past that night. He apologised for raping me. I took a screenshot, because a part of me knew that I might need it one day. Sure enough, he made school a living hell for me. He spread rumours, turned all our shared friends against me and I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally told the truth. It took everything in me to be honest in that moment. I still remember the hot burning in my cheeks as I put what happened into words. I had felt so numb for so long, but at last my secret wasn’t mine anymore. When he found out he stormed around the school shouting and punching lockers. Despite his obviously aggressive behaviour, no one stepped in. It would’ve have mattered anyway, the damage had been done. He denied everything, of course, but it didn’t matter – him and I knew the truth. I’d said ‘no’ that night. Being his girlfriend didn’t mean he was entitled to me.

It takes a long time to deal with the feelings of shame and hurt inside your mind. I have spent the last few years working on myself, and I’ve become closer to my 16 year old self. Despite what happened to her, she was positive, curious and creative. I wasn’t always as kind as I should have been. My first instinct was to fight back, and push away others, something I couldn’t do to my abuser. I was not a bad person, I was hurt. I needed help, not hate.

I am now a university graduate with a wonderful new life, and I’ve never been happier. I had never known what true love was, but I believe I have found that now. When my boyfriend and I first got together, I told him everything, I wanted him to know why I was sometimes anxious and sad for no reason. When I first spoke up about what happened to me, I was called a liar by my friends, my teachers and even by people who didn’t know the first thing about me. My school swept what happened to me under the rug because it happened on school grounds and they didn’t want any negative publicity. I felt so alone. And that feeling is one I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I never want another survivor to go through what I went through. You deserve to be listened to, believed and supported.

About the author

WYR

When You’re Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

Permanent link to this article: http://whenyoureready.org/sophies-story-love/