Isabella’s story

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I met my boyfriend when I was 15. He was three years older, and we started going out. He was my first boyfriend. I just thought he was so cool, he’s really good looking. At first he came across as pretty nice towards me, sort of protective of me, looking out for me etc.

But it wasn’t long after we got together that he started this jealousy thing, like he was constantly watching me to see if I was cheating on him. He just went crazy if I talked to other guys at a party or something, on and on at me like I was flirting with every guy I spoke to, which I wasn’t. He was like “you’re my girlfriend and you do as I say”, basically that was his attitude. At the time, I took it as a sign that he really loved me, he wanted me so much.

We slept together after about a month. I was quite nervous, mainly because my parents are really strict and I was like, just so scared about them finding out.

They’re Italian and are quite religious, they don’t believe in sex before marriage. I didn’t really want to do it, it was my first time and I was really stressed out about it, but I thought I’d better, because he really wanted it. He’d say “I don’t think you really love me, because you don’t want to have sex with me”, and he’d accuse me of liking someone else instead of him. And he went on about how everyone else did it, what was wrong with me? Eventually I gave in to the pressure. Every time I had sex I felt so guilty, and I was really worried that my parents would find out. I don’t know why, I just felt like I’d done the wrong thing and felt really bad, even though I knew quite a lot of other girls at my school had already slept with their boyfriends.

My boyfriend’s attitude towards me was really like “you’re mine”, like he wanted to control everything I did. He wanted to control who I saw, what I wore, what I said, it was like he wanted me to be what he wanted. He didn’t like me talking to friends, he was really critical of all my friends, thought they were stupid and stuff like that. After a while it got really bad, if I told him I’d spoken to a friend on the phone he’d be like “you know I don’t like you talking to her”. Whenever I tried to argue with him, he’d just get so aggressive, start shouting at me, and sometimes he’d like, start grabbing onto me really hard, he’d come up really close and stand over me and shout. Even though I was really upset, I’d just give in.

Sometimes he’d apologise for shouting at me. He’d be like “I’m sorry, I can’t help getting angry with you, if you didn’t do these things I wouldn’t be so angry, it’s just because I love you so much”. Other times he’d stay in this really angry mood, he’d just sit there in silence and sort of smash things around, or if he was driving he’d drive like a maniac.

He was always suspicious of me and it was like I couldn’t do anything right. Once he was waiting for me after school and he saw me talking to this guy in my class. Anyway he got so angry with me for talking to another guy that he pushed me, really hard so I nearly fell over. And then he’s still going on at me “Why were you talking to him? What were you talking about?”. I’d really had enough, so I said “Just shut up”. Then he says “What did you say?”, so I repeated it, and then he just slapped me across the face. And there were like a few people there watching us, and my boyfriend screams at them “you mind your own business”. So no-one said anything, they all just turned away.

That was the only time he actually hit me. The rest of the time it was all this harassment and criticism.

It just wore me down. Normally I’m like, a really talkative person, really social and happy, but I became really quiet with him, hardly ever smiled. I was just so stressed out all the time, constantly worrying what he thought, trying to do what he wanted so he wouldn’t get so aggro or hassle me. I was really nervous around him and scared of setting him off.

I lost contact with most of my friends because he harassed me so much when I saw them. I didn’t really tell anyone about how he treated me, because I thought it must be my fault. Once some friends saw him shouting at me about something and they were like “Why do you put up with it? You should just break up with him”. That made me feel really bad too, because I felt so stupid, like there was something wrong with me for putting up with it. But I just couldn’t leave him. I thought he really loved me, and he wasn’t always so bad to me, sometimes he was really nice. I thought if I was more like what he wanted me to be, he would treat me better. I suppose I really blamed myself, felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt really unconfident. After being treated like shit for so long, that’s how I felt. And I was totally scared of his reaction if I left him, he’d just go crazy, I didn’t know what he’d do if I tried to leave.

One time when I had told him I’d had enough and didn’t want to see him anymore, he threatened to tell my parents that we’d had sex, and that I’d smoked drugs with him. I thought my parents would absolutely kill me if they found out. It was like he tried to blackmail me into staying with him.

His older sister used to see how he treated me, but she made out like it was my fault. She’d say “you know what his temper is like, you don’t want to go and provoke him, why do you provoke him like that?”

He used to get me to ring him every night I didn’t see him, when I got home from school and before I went to bed, just to check up on what I’d been doing. My parents didn’t want me to make so many phone calls, so I had to try to sneak around and ring, which was not easy.

This went on for nearly three years. I don’t know why, but finally I decided I had to break up with him. I think I realised he was never going to change, it was always going to be like this with him. It was like I just snapped, I just had enough and couldn’t take any more.

On the day I broke up with him, I’d been late to meet him, then I had to hand in an assignment that I’d worked really hard on. He was so angry about me being late, he grabbed the assignment and just ripped it up, right in front of me. I’d been told by the teacher I’d probably fail if I didn’t get that assignment in. So I just lost it. I said “that’s it”, and I walked off in the other direction. He comes after me and says “don’t you walk away from me”. I said “I’ve had it with this shit”. So we’re screaming at each other in the street, he’s grabbing me by the arms and holding me and shouting at me, saying if I leave him he’ll tell my parents what I’ve done, like having sex and everything. But I just didn’t care anymore, I thought I’ll cope easier with my parent’s reaction than I can with staying with him. Finally he walks off, he’s just wild at me, and I know this is not the end of this, because he’s said he’s going to go and tell my parents.

When I get home he’s not there, and I just walk in and burst into tears in front of my mother. I just blurted out everything. She was pretty shocked, going on about “How could you? You should have told us, we knew he was bad for you” etcetera. Then there’s a knock at the door. My dad answers it, and it’s my boyfriend. Dad won’t let him in, so my boyfriend starts yelling at him. Dad manages to get the door shut to keep him out.

It took a while for my parents to calm down, but I think they had to calm down eventually because I was just so upset and crying and everything. I was partly crying with relief, the relief of having finally told someone. The next day I left school early so I didn’t have to see him afterwards. I stayed at home all weekend. My parents have an answering machine and he left a few messages, some angry, some apologetic, but I didn’t talk to him.

One night the next week he arrived at the front door again but my dad didn’t let him in. He was shouting threats and banging and throwing stuff at the house. My parents decided to call the police, even though I didn’t want them to. He took off when he saw the police car on the road, so the police didn’t see him. The policewoman was quite nice actually, and said we could get an Intervention Order to stop him coming near the house, or near me at school. They said I would need to go to a Magistrates court and say what had happened, and why I was afraid of him. I said I’d think about it. I was scared to go to court, scared of how he’d react, and of what other people would think.

He didn’t come to my house again after that – I think he was scared about my parents calling the police. But for a while he kept turning up after school, and would come up to me and either shout at me, or plead with me. I’d told a few school friends, and they were really good about it actually. It was such a relief to tell people, I felt so much stronger. My friends helped me by looking out for me to see if he was waiting for me, and they stood around if he tried to talk to me. They hung around until he left.

Sometimes I felt really guilty or sorry for him when he was hanging around, but then I just thought about how stressed he’d made me feel, how he had tried to manipulate me and dominate my life, and I felt angry at him. Feeling angry helped me keep away from him.

After a few weeks he sort of gave up on trying to get at me. I think he knew he couldn’t get to me as much since I told my friends and my parents, and he knows I’m pretty determined to keep him away. It helps knowing that if he harasses or threatens me again I could call the police or take out an Intervention Order. If I see him on the street my friends stand around me, to protect me.

He’s got a new girlfriend now, so I hear. I hope he’s not abusing her. Maybe after I stood up to him, he’ll be more careful to treat his girlfriends with respect.

Now, a year later I’ve got a boyfriend who really respects me. He never pressures me, and I can be myself with him. I won’t put up with any shit from a boyfriend or from anyone. At the first sign of control or manipulation or pressure it would be like, ‘I’m out of here’. Now I know no-one has the right to treat me like that. If you love someone you show them respect.

If I knew someone who was being abused, I’d try to talk to them about it. I’d tell them, don’t feel ashamed, it’s not your fault, it’s his. I’d say to them, if you feel like you are able to, then get out as soon as you can, because the abuse just wears you down more and more. Stop hoping he will change, you are probably wasting your time. But be careful, because with some guys things can get scary, especially when you try to leave. If my friend didn’t feel like she could break up, I wouldn’t criticise her, I’d hang in there and support her. I’d say, make sure you have ways to protect yourself. I’d tell them how much it can help to talk to people about it, because if you have support it can make you feel a lot stronger.

I’d also tell them that things will get better when you are free from the abuse. You feel like you have your life back, your confidence comes back, your enjoyment of life. And even though it takes a while to start trusting people again, it also makes you stronger and more aware of your own rights.

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16 Responses to “Isabella’s story”

  1. well hey ive read this and its realy bad i rekon you should never let your boyfriend get in the way if noboady has told u im telling u now your bestfriends come first they are there for u thik and thin, my boyfirend blakmails me if your not doing this then were finish :( it actually hurts when he says that but if i tell him im scared he shouts oh gets angry plus i am a muslim an if my family wuld find out im dead.

  2. i dont know if i have an abusive boyfriend or not ? im 16 and he is eighteen. he leaves bruises on me and chokes me. he says he is sorry and says he dont mean it. he is always calling me a slut and a whore.but sometimes he can be really sweet and loving, we have been together nearly a year now and its messing with my head !!!! i dont know what to do :( please help me. i think this might be causing me to have breakdowns.

  3. Dear Innocent,

    From what you’ve said, your relationship sounds really dangerous and distressing for you.

    You’ve got the right to feel safe and respected in a relationship. This means being safe from verbal abuse like name-calling and, more urgently, the physical violence you’ve talked about.

    It is really important to remember that you’re not the cause of this violence. People can choose to talk things through with their girlfriend or their friends and family, rather than use violence or put them down.

    It can be confusing and scary to try and work out what’s going on when there are mixed messages – like sometimes he’s sweet and loving and at other times, abusive.

    No wonder you feel your boyfriend’s behaviour is making you stressed and have breakdowns. It sounds like a perfectly normal reaction to very frightening stuff.

    It’s a good idea to talk to someone about what’s going on – a close friend, someone in your family or an adult you can trust. Talking about it can make you feel less alone, and could help you to work out what to do. See How do I tell someone?

    It could be good too to talk with a counsellor, because they’re outside the situation. You can tell them whatever you like. See Why call or see a counsellor? and Services that can help for someone to call or chat to online.

    Take care,
    Jane

  4. dear innocnet i say you leave im you deserve somebody better you are defenetly in a dangerous relationship well keep in touch good luck with that

  5. Dear Isabella,
    I think that my boyfriend is acting the same. Cause now he’s kinda nice and loving. But he told me he has jelousy issues; and his personality seems kinda controlling. The thing is that he’s in the 11th grade im in the 9th. I want to stick around to see what happens but I dont want him to think he has me under his control.

  6. Hi Ashanti

    It sounds like you have good instincts.

    In every abusive relationship, there are warning signs that there is abuse present. Seems like your boyfriend’s ‘jealousy issues’ could become a problem for you.

    Jealousy can play a huge role in emotional abuse, and can be used to control you.

    Maybe it’s easier to not hang out with your friends, or go out with a group, or talk to other boys because if you do those things, he becomes jealous and that causes trouble.

    But you have the right to do all those things without fear of fighting.

    It’s not ok for him to tell you what to do, or make you feel bad if you make your own decisions.

    Talk to someone you trust about what’s going on, and remember that you have the right to be safe and to make your own decisions – which includes talking to and hanging out with who you want!

  7. I have a boyfriend and he doesn’t physically abuse me, he says he has done so much shit he doesnt want to do for me eg. quit smoking, respect his family, talk nicer to other girls
    and he knows I don’t want to do any kind of sexual stuff with him, but he uses those things against me as if I have been really selfish by not doing sexual things with him. He is also my bestfriend, and I really don’t want to loose him as a friend if I say no, but I feel as though our friendship has stuffed up because of me saying no. I really need help with what I should say to him. :(

  8. Hi there and thank you for your message.

    I want to say a few things to you, but mostly I want to tell you that you have the right to say NO to sex. It’s not ok for someone, whether they are your best friend, partner or family member to pressure you into having sex. We all have the right to choose when and under which circumstances we have sex. This is true all our lives, not just when it’s our first time.

    I also want to say that being pressured into sex can be really confusing and upsetting. If someone is making you feel that you are doing something hurtful by saying no, it can seem easier to say yes. But that’s not consent.

    Being pressured into sex is sexual assault and it’s not ok. Forcing someone to have sex without them agreeing is against the law.

    Relationships can be very hard, especially if it seems that one of you has more power than the other.
    If you feel that you are being pressured or bullied into having sex, or doing other things against your will, you can call CASA on (03) 9349 1766 (Melbourne).

  9. The problem with my boyfriend is that he is really sweet and loving most of the time and when other guys like mehe starts crying to me and saying dont ever leave me because without me he will die do you think he is blackmailing me so i wont find other guys or is it because he really loves me? im confused

  10. Hi Confused, thanks for your comment.

    It does sound like your boyfriend is trying to control your choices in this instance – even if he is really sweet and loving most of the time, as you say.

    It’s not fair for a boyfriend or girlfriend to put this kind of emotional pressure on you, and to make you feel responsible for whether they live or die.

    We all have a right to end a relationship if we’re not happy. It may seem harsh, but if someone chooses to hurt themselves, it is their choice. You shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about the decisions they make.

    Tell your boyfriend or girlfriend that you will have to tell someone about their threats.
    Tell them the way they’re reacting is not fair – everyone gets worried about how their relationship is going and if it will last, but talking about dying if you guys break up is not cool. It just makes you feel terrible and it may affect your decision making – in other words, it’s a subtle form of control. and love is not about control.

    Being put under this kind of pressure is confusing and stressful. There are services that help you deal with this, or make sure you talk to someone – it’s a lot to deal with alone.

    This website has a page about this : Dying for you?

    All the best

  11. very scary, i too experinced all about these things. it is really undisolvable memories in our life. still then we can take it in good ways. we all are bounded with human rights.. so be stroing enough.don’t give a chnce to abuse u by your boyfreind or other partner.

  12. BE STRONG….. WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN RIGHTS TO PROTECT OURSELVES. ALL THE BEST

  13. You must bite the bullet and leave. You have no idea how many people will actually support you! i am 24 and have been in an even worse relationship for the last 6 years!It is one of the hardest things to leave..due to fear! but if you let someone disrespect you technically you are disrespecting yourself! Remember to LEARN from it and not dwell on it. You will now be able to tell what someone is like from the smallest signs. I am still in my relationship and both of us hate each other, yet he thinks he owns me so i am rightfully his. As i have gotten older i have learnt to really stand up for myself and not actually let anything get me down…REMEMBER a relationship is meant to be LOVING and you should ALWAYS feel comfortable..NEVER ashamed to be yourself, never scared!

  14. i wasnt afraid to leave my man cuz of what he was doing to me.. i was afraid cuz i didnt want to lose the guy i love. its been almost 2 years and im still with him. he has his good moments. but its like he has 2 personalities.

  15. Isabella,
    i have to say your story pulls strings at my heart. i recently got out of an abusive relationship. its a very scary and confusing thing. i want you and ALL the ladies out there to know that you did NOTHING wrong. it always starts off with they want you to call them when you come home or know where you are all the time. thats the control. a shove here and slap there. before you know it your in a hospital praying for your life. abuse not only affects you but your family and friends as well. its a very scary and emotional time, but you are NOT alone!!! Isabella you said you were pressured into sex a lot. :( im so sorry to hear that sweetie. its something very special and should be saved for marriage. but hey we are human. occasionally my ex would rape me. i did get pregnant. it was very bitter sweet. i was so happy for the life inside but hated the monster of a father. i wasnt one to believe in abortion as an option for myself but have nothing against it for others. i tried to never make him upset which could be impossible at times. he promised to never hit me again now that i was pregnant. things were great for a while. i actually thought he changed. i kept talking to my sister. i always looked to her for advice. she was married to an abusive man. she had a protective order against him. i told her i was pregnant. she asked me what i wanted to do and how i was going to handle everything. she warned me about the way abusive men go thru a vicious cycle. being nice kinda like a honey moon phase to being physically abusive then they are all nice again apologizing and offering gifts to win you back and giving empty promises. i went to my boyfriends after i left my sister. me and him were just talking and everything was fine. next thing i know he is screaming and picks me up and throws me on the ground kicking and punching me all over my body. i got away and went to the nearest store. i called my doctor and scheduled and abortion. as much as i loved my unborn baby girl who’s name was ISABELLA :( i love myself just as much and couldnt keep either one of us in a life of fear and heartbreak. it breaks my heart everyday to know she isnt with me. the chain and pull of abuse is strong ladies!!! it doesnt end there. i was depressed after the abortion i felt so alone and empty. my boyfriend “said” he was sad and hurt of the loss of our child. all around me everyone kept saying your better off!!! in my heart i didnt feel it. i wanted my baby back and the hope of a happy family. i knew i had to get out of that relationship. i had 150 missed calls in an hour from my ex when i woke up from the abortion. thats just not normal. i just wanted him to be a good boyfriend. he wasnt always bad. when it was good is was AMAZING but when it was bad it was HELL!!! after the abortion i could only find comfort in the one man who caused me so much pain.weird huh? again things were great for a while. it was my first day back to work since the baby. i was at my ex’s getting ready for work. something didnt feel right. He went off!!! I dont know how i managed to get out of that house. My manager found me in my car in the parking lot bleeding every where and called the police. something i was always too AFRAID to do. an hour later my ex was FINALLY in jail. a protective order and restraining order later i havent heard from him since. a month after he was arrested my sister passed away in a car accident. it makes me so sad to know she was unhappy and in pain in a marriage for so long because of domestic violence. she was only 29. Ladies please if you are being abused please talk to someone. dont live in fear. there are so many people out there like myself who want to help you. i thought i would be trapped in that relationship forever. im 24 and have my whole life ahead on me just like YOU!!! always keep shining and smiling :) i hope this can help someone out there x0x0x

  16. whoaa im serious i read this thing and i thought this was about me all of this you have written happened to me the only thing that didnt happen is he didnt hit me or i didnt smoke i have been harassed by my ex for the past month or 2 but i am only 14 we were going out for almost a year he tried to make me jealous and also cause he might be moving but he is trying to get his girl pregnate which i thought was really stupid of her for letting him but i dont know im not them.i just cry everytime i see him,he goes to my school and he would cus me out everytime im just glad im out of that relationship because i dont know what would happen as of right now. the cop have puttin a restraning order on him and he has changed classes.i just needed to read this so i know im not the only one out there going through this cause it is not right for anyone.