What are you thinking?
Chess is a game of strategic thinking. By placing your opponent’s king in checkmate, that person is locked in place. He cannot move without being defeated.
That’s how my first “love” was. This boy loved chess. But more than that, he loved to beat me up—emotionally and physically—until I believed I had no other choice than to take his abuse.
Here’s my story.
I was fresh into high school and eager to meet new people. He was a junior. He told me a sob story. He was adopted, had a painful childhood, no friends. I bought into his story, because I wanted to see the good in him. I wanted to comfort him.
Later, he confessed that he had fabricated most of the stories about his painful childhood, but he promised to “never do that again.” He said he lied because he wanted me to like him. I never stopped to think of how immature, pathetic, and insane this was. I just kept believing him.
Then the insults started. He would tell me I could lose a little fat off my tummy, that I looked like a crack-whore with makeup, that I was stupid because I wasn’t as good at chess as he was, on and on. He would threaten to go out with other girls. Once he even told me he had met someone else, only to retract his story later.
It was not until I used the bright head on my shoulders in October of my sophomore year that I realized this was wrong. With encouragement from my friends, I began to realize I didn’t need him. It felt wonderful to change and be free. My life was open to new possibilities. I felt good about myself for the first time in a long while.
But after staying away from him for about two months, I was again sucked into his world of “I love you. It will never happen again.” My own insecurity led me to believe that he was the only person who could ever make me happy.
But the abuses started again. He was upset about me dumping him before, so he lashed out at me on my 15th birthday, yelling at me in front of the entire lunchroom, saying he wish he had never met me and he couldn’t stand me.
While I did have a lot of people to reach out to, I felt helpless, weak, and ashamed.
So, I begged him to take me back. He did. Then things got worse. If I said I wanted to go to sleep and he wanted to get sexual, he would throw a tantrum. If I wanted to go out with my friends, he would talk me into spending the night with him. He was nice to me when he wanted sex. Then he’d go back to being mean and controlling.
I was his emotional punching bag. He’d put me down in front of others to feel good about himself. He treated me how he felt about himself.
The hardest part about getting out of an abusive and unhealthy relationship is actually removing yourself from the situation.
Apology and Betrayal
Then the violence started. One day, while we were lying in bed, I had the audacity to disagree with something he said. He started arguing with me. Then I giggled at how silly “we” were acting. That’s when I felt my head slam into the headboard with a deafening clang. He pinned his knees into my “fat” ribcage and began to squeeze various sections of my flesh, making me scream out in pain.
Then he began to strangle me. He kept screaming, “I told you not to laugh at me! Stop screaming! Stop screaming! I’m so f–king tired of you and your bullsh-t! Don’t fight me, just shut up! Shut the f-ck up!” My head was thumping in rhythm with his shouts. I began to see black.
A tearful apology ensued, with reasons why he did the inexcusable. “You made me do that to you. You drove me to do it. I didn’t want to do it, but you made me.” He told me not to tell anyone, since all of my friends were “low class and bitchy” and my parents would “hate” him. I kept it to myself, listened to depressing music, and tried to forget.
Until it happened again—and again.
He threw me into a wall. He yanked and pulled and twisted my skin. He forced me to give him a blowjob when I had mononucleosis. My glands were swollen and I could not swallow, but he only cared about his sexual need: “Just put it in your mouth.”
He’d threaten to leave if I refused to have sex with him. Since my biggest fear was losing him, I would slowly take off an article of clothing so he would stay.
I remained his trophy for another nine months, until the biggest betrayal of my life. He told my parents that I was crazy, needed help, and that he was breaking up with me. They never knew until months later how he hit and tortured me. So they believed him, especially when I began to sob uncontrollably and beg him for another chance.
But then my parents forbade me to see him. They saved my life because they took me away from a guy who wanted to destroy me.
Road to Recovery
Those first experiences of violence—ground-shattering flashes of time—stay with you, whether you want them to or not. I hated my body. I blamed myself. I isolated myself from people who really cared about me. And I believed he was the only boy who would ever find me pretty.
It has taken a long time to get over this. I could barely sleep for months and soaked the sheets with my own tears. But, in time, life got better and healthier. My mother took me to a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and I talked my way through my pain. They helped me realize that respecting myself is, by far, the most important thing. I know now I will never accept or stay with anyone who hurts or abuses me.
The hardest part about getting out of an abusive and unhealthy relationship is actually removing yourself from the situation. If a partner hurts you once, chances are that person will hurt you again.
Don’t be ashamed to tell someone. They want to help you. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult. Just do not let anyone tear you down and punish you for being you. There is life beyond an abusive love, but only if your first “love” does not beat you to death.