Single and Dating

Lessons I learnt from my abusive partner

He chipped away at her self-esteem until she couldn’t take it any more
girl with her hand signaling to stop abuse

Looking back, I have trouble coming to terms with how naive I was. But learning curves were never meant to be a pleasant experience. It was going through this three-year bittersweet journey that made me the confident albeit sceptical person I am. It taught me kindness, it taught me about manipulation, and more than anything, it contributed to the growth of my bullshit radar.

That’s lesson No. 1 – no incomplete relationship leaves you without scars. But man, are they worth it in the long run!

It all began in the first year of college. It was the first time that I had felt so ‘out there’. After spending 13 years in the same school, with the same people, this was a whole new place. On the third day, a couple of seniors walked into our class. Friendly introductions were followed by a treat of samosas and tea. That’s when I met the guy, my senior and in his third year.

A few months later, as part of a play, I had to work together with many other people from various departments. As one of the prominent characters and senior in college, there he was. We began talking, and as a result, dating.

And the early signs of toxicity were right there. He wanted to know where I was at all times. At first, it seemed like the sweetest gesture. But the circle kept expanding to things more than just my immediate location.

I had to keep reporting about the people I was with, not smoke or drink with anyone but him, and not dare raise my voice against anything.

His manipulations were in various stages. He kept telling me how I was everything that defines perfect, and the moment he felt I was doing something wrong, he would tell me how I had ‘tarnished’ his image of me, making me feel like I had misled him into believing something completely opposite to what I was.

But the worst thing was when he destroyed every ounce of my self-esteem. He kept telling me day in and day out how he could have found so many better girls, but he had ‘settled’ for me. If I mentioned how some guy had asked me out or that someone had told me he liked me (which out of the habit of telling him everything, I did), he would tell me all anyone would ever want from me was sex. Well, that’s right back at him, no?

In the man’s own words, I was ugly, not worthy of him, dark, I looked dirty, and I looked like a housemaid – whatever that meant. There were a lot many mean, nasty, racist remarks directed at me. He left nothing to be brought down. No talent of mine was left behind, nothing I did seemed like a good enough endeavour. He had always seen something better.

That’s the second lesson to take, loves. If they say you ain’t good enough, tell ‘em to find their own jazz that’s good enough. Don’t be like me and bear that cross on your shoulder for as long as I did.

He had made me so aware of ugly and unwanted I was, that I granted him what he asked next. He wanted to have other women in his life, ones who were lot more physically appealing than I am, and he wanted me to be in the loop at the same time. He wanted a guilt free pass to do what he feels like with any girl, while I stay chaste and waiting.

Lesson number 3 is as obvious as it gets.

If he doesn’t want to be there completely, if he’s ‘unsure’ that you’re the one, move the hell on.

He’s just being a douche, a stubborn child who wants everything and values nothing.

I’m giving you all the wisdom in the world right now, but I followed none of it. I stayed with him still, and God alone knows how long I’d have stayed had it not been for friends. They kept telling me how I’d trapped myself and I could easily walk out.

The day I did, it was almost like some big worry had come off my shoulders. It’s not like I recovered from the repercussions of being with him. There was a time I couldn’t look people in the face while talking to them. It has taken me a whole lot more than just time to move on and become a person so different than what I was.

So to all you people looking for love and falling in and out of it, make mistakes, make a fool out of yourself, but please, please move out of things that seem more like a duty than love. There’s a difference between sacrifice and compromise. A relationship should be about small compromises, not a sale of your soul.

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Surabhi Sahni has a story of a woman’s escape from a similar abusive relationship. Do you have a story to share that echoes this experience? Write in and tell us. Do you know we have an extensive panel of expert Counsellors who will be able to help you in your situation? Read what advice they’ve given our readers thus far regarding abuse, and maybe you would like to consult them yourself, too.

Published in Single and Dating

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