This article was written by a young person as part of our #YouDeserve: Healthy Relationships Campaign. To find out more about the campaign click here. TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses themes of emotional abuse and physical abuse which could be triggers for some people. Names have been changed to protect identities.
As young people navigating relationships for the first time, it can often be hard to know what a healthy relationship looks like. Sometimes things can turn wrong quickly but there may have been warning signs in your relationship. This is Peggy’s story about experiencing an abusive relationship.
‘I couldn’t see the bigger picture’
We started dating at 16 and lasted for 3 years. I was too young to realise that what was happening in our relationship was not normal, and not okay. I was just totally consumed by being in love, or what I thought that was then.
It was not an immediately an abusive relationship, it happened so slowly that I couldn’t see the bigger picture. At first it was covering up on nights out, then it was cutting boys he didn’t like out of my life, which quickly led to every boy, including family members. If my top showed too much skin then, to him, I was trying to impress someone. Why would I want them to see that much of me? I’m just asking for other boys’ attention.
It was always that I could not be trusted, I didn’t realise at the time that his insecurities were not my fault.
His justification was that he loved me, and wanted to protect me, after all, how could I be angry with him for wanting to look after me? After a few years I accepted that it was my fault he felt like this, my actions that made him insecure, I couldn’t be trusted.
It was suffocating, I couldn’t breathe without him, I was drowning without his approval.
‘It was my fault for being in the way’
It was not until a year into the relationship that things became violent. It wasn’t so obvious at first, punching furniture and throwing it around the room, it was my fault for being in the way of where they landed. Pushing me into objects wasn’t his fault because he didn’t mean to push so hard. I was oblivious.
It wasn’t until 2 years in that an ambulance was called.
Two punches; knocked out.
I was concussed, yet all I could think about was how to lie so I could keep him in my life. I spent the night throwing up, uncontrollably crying and shivering in a friend’s house, their parents watching over me till the ambulance came. I wasn’t crying because I was hurt, I was crying because I couldn’t protect him anymore. I lied to the paramedics, I lied to my friends, I lied to my family, and I lied to myself. He made me believe that it was my fault for arguing with him, that I was standing too close. I never got an apology.
Gaining space and perspective
It was not until I moved away and gained space and perspective that I realised this was not how relationships should be. Even after the break up, I was never angry with him, I was angry with myself for letting him manipulate and abuse me.
Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse, and for me, if I had realised the emotional abuse in my relationship early on, then I would have saved myself from further hurt and pain.
I knew in my gut that his behaviour was not okay, and I should have listened.
This article is part of the Healthy Relationships campaign. If you would like to read more about the Healthy Relationships campaign and see more content including information and support for young people’s experiences, click here.
If you want help or advice about relationships, or if there’s anything else worrying you, then you can call Meic and speak to a friendly advisor. Meic is an information and advocacy helpline open from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week, for children and young people aged in Wales.