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We all know the story. But even the best of us, young and old, even those of us with headstrong and stubborn influences, we can fall into the trap.
The trap of ‘I love yous’, ‘you’re so beautiful’, ‘I love your voice’, ‘you’re so smart’, ‘I can’t believe how lucky I am’. The trap is when those words change, when you are too far down the rabbit hole to see sense. To see the truth.
You’re then told to sit down otherwise boys will check you out, god forbid if there aren't any chairs. You can’t post that, you’re wearing the necklace that you were given for Valentines Day, three years ago, that boy will think you like him. You’re only posting that to get attention from all those boys aren’t you? You just bought those trousers because you know they make your ass look good. You look too hot to be in school. Grow up, you’re acting like a child. You speak too loud in public, I wish you would keep your voice down. I bet you go and gossip to all your friends about me. Did you have fun walking with that boy, why don’t you go sit with him instead. Did you wear that makeup to impress someone else? If you want to go chat to others it’s fine. It might be better if you wore a paper bag. You shouldn't be with me, I’m not good enough for you. You go have fun speaking to other people, I’ll be here when you’ll give me your attention. I’m sorry for everything. Be safe. I love you.
That is control. Giving up friendships with those you’ve had for years just to please one person, is not okay. Even if they tell you they’d delete everything for you, that they would stop speaking to any and all others, doesn't mean you should do it back. If something so simple as wearing a school uniform is a problem with your significant other, that’s not okay. If going to parties without them is not allowed, that’s not okay. If you’re no longer permitted to express yourself with your appearance, that’s not okay. If you are receiving dirty text messages that make you feel uncomfortable, that’s not okay. If they isolate you from your friends and family, it’s not okay. If they are hiding their true intentions from you with praise and compliments, that’s not okay. Never changing their behavior and plastering up their actions with ‘sorries’, is not okay.
If they are using what was once a loving embrace, to mould you into someone you’re not, that’s not okay.
My heart felt so full that I couldn't move for happiness. Sometimes the hard truth takes longer to rear its head. Despite family, friends, acquaintances, and people I barely knew telling me not to trust so quickly, not to be so easily led by endless excuses, I carried on believing. I let myself get tangled in the web of love and lies that was being spun specifically for me and my weaknesses. However that doesn’t make me pathetic and feeble. Or silly and naive. It makes me strong. I endured it all because I wanted to keep my loved one happy, even if it broke me. But eventually I accepted the help. Which only makes me braver. Or at least that’s how I see it. Making mistakes is easy enough, but knowing that you’re living in one big mistake, and then taking yourself away from that narrative, is a brave thing to do.
I was made to feel like the cold one in the relationship. That I didn’t give enough praise. I was made to question what I’d been told my whole life, by those who truly knew me. My family and friends told me I was very kind, caring and selfless towards the ones I love. To be suddenly told I wasn’t those things, made me feel invisible. If I wasn’t those things, why was he with me? I was convinced that it was a pleasure to be with him, in his ‘love story’. Not the other way round.
But, in the end, people take their own time to leave relationships. No matter how much you query them, it’ll always be their decision, in their time. Even if they know it’s wrong. You can’t always force them to see the truth, because they think they know better. There will be the happy memories that make you want to stay, that encourage you to hold on. As someone who defended their partner with all their might for months and months, I do understand that it’s one hell of a task to leave. But if you suspect you need help, then ask. Ask until you turn blue in the face because someone will help you and you will find relief.
If a partner or even a friend, ever makes you feel inadequate, or changes the beauty that is you in your entirety, into ‘their cup of tea’, tell them to fuck off, and leave you be.
This piece came from a courageous young woman in the aftermath of a breakdown in her relationship. It took her an immense amount of bravery and strength to articulate her experience and feelings and we are really grateful she has shared her story with us. If you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control or other forms of domestic abuse, you can reach out for support from Women's Aid here in the Highlands: http://www.invernesswa.co.uk/
Welcome to the Stand Up! platform for young people's voices from across the Scottish Highlands. This site showcases quality pieces of writing on topics relating to gender-based violence from passionate young writers who want to get their voices heard.