Sofia’s advice on domestic violence: “Take off the blindfold. Knowledge is power.”

Sofia’s advice on domestic violence: “Take off the blindfold. Knowledge is power.”

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BETHESDA, Maryland, October 19, 2014 — Sofia* is a survivor of domestic violence and pathological abuse living and recovering in The United Kingdom.

Before the relationship, I was vulnerable. I had just lost my father and come out of a long-term relationship. I wanted marriage and children. During the relationship, for the first few years I was happy. I had a feeling things were not quite right but pushed them to the back of my mind. The last two years of the relationship were hell. I was depressed and desperately trying to get the man back I fell in love with. After the relationship ended, I feel liberated and see clearly. However, I am not trusting of everything people tell me, I am very guarded and it is very rare I let many people see my heart.

In the early stages of the relationship, he took me to amazing places and spent hours and hours on the phone with me. He showered me with excessive compliments, promising marriage and children.

As the relationship progressed, he stole money from me and stopped taking me out. He told me I made him do bad things. When he stole, we argued. He said my arguments were what was driving him to steal from me in the first place.

He had affairs with my next-door neighbor. He took all of our electronic equipment to the pawn shop. He told me no one would want me, and he was the best I was going to get. He told me I never did enough. Nothing I did was ever good enough.

To try saving the relationship, I took him to get antidepressants. He took time off work, and we went on holiday. We decided on a break but never got to that as I found out about all of his lies.

Every bone in my body wanted him to leave, but it was like he just had to stick the knife in a bit more. I felt depressed and very hopeless. I kept saying in my head, “How did I get here? How did I allow myself to be put through this?” I hated myself for not walking out. I needed a way out, but every door appeared closed to me.

I never considered suicide, but work was a big distraction. Work also helped me pay back the money he had stolen.

My biggest challenge since the end of the relationship has been trusting people and bringing down my barriers. Also, the financial damage has been awful.

I am starting to enjoy myself, little by little, with people I trust. I also lost weight and am regaining confidence and treating myself.

My best advice to others: There is a way out. Educate yourself. Realize things will never change and only get worse. Take off the blindfold. Knowledge is power.

Each day during the month of October, column author Paula Carrasquillo will feature a story written by a survivor of domestic violence. At the end of October, a compilation of all stories will be available for free as an e-book.

*All names have been changed to protect the survivor and the survivor’s family and friends.

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