BETHESDA, Maryland, October 30, 2014 — Eva* is a survivor of abuse living and recovering in The United States.
I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life until I met Simon. I had one year of sobriety from a cocaine addiction when I met him. I met him on a dating site that was free of charge, and he had just moved into a new house close to where I lived. I had been seeing him for about two weeks when I asked him to be my boyfriend.
Looking back, even though I was happy, my self-esteem was still very fragile from the abuse my father and mother had put me through growing up. Today, I would never even consider asking a man to be my boyfriend. I believe in the man being the one to ask if I want to be in a relationship.
Once we became a couple, I moved into his house which was disgusting. The house was never cleaned, and because of the environment being unsanitary, there were mice in the winter and ants in the summer.
The first sign for me should have been when I was questioning if he was cheating or not. My friend and I made a fake social media profile and posed as an attractive girl. He fell for it and left the fake girl his number. I confronted him about it, and he made up some stupid story about how his friends like to prank him on social media. Even though I should have left him and listened to my gut, I did not.
Next, he made hints here and there that he thought I was overweight. He came home one night and said, “I don’t know if I could see myself with you five years from now if you don’t lose 15 to 20 pounds.” He rationalized what he said by saying that he was just trying to be honest with me and that he could see himself marrying me someday. I was completely shocked and broke up with him.
Being a sociopath, he was an expert at convincing me to come back to him after I broke up with him. The verbal abuse continued but was never as severe as what he said the first time I broke up with him.
My father is very wealthy. Simon knew this, and I am sure this is the number one reason that he was with me to begin with. On our first date, he asked if my father was the owner of a business chain in the area. We moved into a nice apartment that my father paid for including all of our bills, while Simon rented out his house to other people. So he was making money off the house and not paying a penny for our apartment, but I rationalized it because neither was I.
Signs of him cheating kept coming up. He was constantly on the same dating website that we met on, but his lie was that he just wanted to look at other girls. Even though I did not believe it for a minute, I blocked out his behavior from my mind, because I thought I had found the man of my dreams.
After being in the new apartment for almost a year he proposed to me. The way he proposed was sick. He is from Iran and claims he came to The United States by himself when he was 17. He also stated that he had criminal charges for possession of marijuana and that he could get deported on his court date. I said that I did not know if I was ready to marry him and then he said that he could just pay someone else to marry him. I thought that it was extremely rude for him to say that, but I did not want to have to live with him getting deported just because I did not marry him.
Looking back, he was totally playing on my sympathy. We got married in Florida, and I decided not to tell my father. I knew that he would not approve. Instead, we pretended like we were engaged.
One day, he came home and started screaming at me and throwing objects across the room, because I would not give him money. I did not even recognize who he was anymore. I talked to my dad and told him that we were already married. My father cancelled all of the wedding services.
About a month later, I decided to give him another chance. That’s when my father stopped paying our rent and bills. I had a car that my father had bought for me, and the car was in my name. Simon convinced me to allow him to crash the car for insurance money to buy a house. I began attending college for my graduate degree and was receiving school loans. I used some of the money to fix up the house we bought with the insurance money. Who knows how much of the money I gave him to fix up the house that he actually pocketed.
We had been married for about a year and a half when I ran into one of Simon’s old friends. He started telling me detailed stories about him cheating that made perfect sense to me. It was creepy, because all of the pieces to the puzzle finally fit. I ended up cheating on him and relapsing on pain medication after four years of sobriety.
One time, I figured out how to catch him on the dating site through the history that he did not know about. I saw in the history that he had been on there that day and showed it to him, but he lied to my face for a good five minutes straight. The proof was right there in his face and the time was on there too. Eventually, he admitted to being on there but nothing else. That is the only time he ever admitted to lying to me.
He had an awful gambling problem in addition to his sick love of money. I was paying 100 percent of every house bill towards the end. He worked for my dad and stole money that he never paid back to this day. He was fired. There is much, much more sociopathic behavior that went on, but the last deal breaker for me was when I gave him $5000 to get me a car, and he spent it all. He never paid me back a dime until I filed for a divorce. He is court ordered to pay me $500 a month, because he is buying the house off me. I am 100 percent positive that I would not see a penny of that money if it were not court ordered.
He was extremely charming, extremely sexually magnetizing, persuasive, funny, outgoing, spontaneous and fun to be around. He sent me constant compliments through texts. He contacted me frequently enough for me to think, “Wow, this guy really likes me.”
He never gave me gifts, these are the only gifts I ever got:
- My wedding ring about $200.
- A blender for my birthday (which served him too).
- A card and flowers on one of our wedding anniversaries (which I think was prompted by a friend of the family).
- Notes that said “I love you” or “Have a good day” (which I started).
He never spent time with me. Instead, he hung out with his friends which gave me the message that I was no fun, unimportant and unworthy. I payed for almost everything the entire relationship. We never went out and did anything unless I was paying. He attacked me with extreme verbal abuse and constantly hurt my feelings for amusement. He hurt our dog and found it amusing, because it hurt me as well.
He never cared about my feelings and always dismissed them. If there was ever a problem in the relationship, it was my fault. He could care less if I was sexually satisfied; we never did it enough. He would rarely show me signs of physical affection. When I did try to hug or kiss him, he would turn his body sideways as if I was annoying him. He never wore the wedding ring that I bought for him, because he claimed it hurt his finger. I was told that he bragged to other people that he was only with me for the money. He rarely ever shared with me what he did all day.
I constantly broke up with him. I read books on verbal abuse and used the skills in the book. I tried to have him get help for his gambling problem. I asked him if he wanted to go to marital counseling, and he would not. I did numerous research about the effects of neglect on children. I saw a therapist myself. I think taking breaks helped a little but not much, because the behavior just returned. He surprisingly did, however, almost completely stop being verbally abusive for two years. I think it was because he knew that he really would lose me if he continued.
In the very beginning, he made fun of all of my friends in hope that I would not hang out with them. He broke me down so bad in this way that I still tend to isolate, which I never did before I met him. I would stay alone by myself all the time just so I could be there in case he stopped by. I stopped going to my support groups, which left me feeling lonely and depressed.
I attempted suicide once by taking a bottle of pills. I told him about it the next day, and he ignored it like it did not matter. Prior to that, I told him that I really wanted to kill myself while covered in tears; he said that he had too much on his mind right now and to leave him alone. My gut, to this day, tells me that he would not have cared if I died that day.
I escaped the pain with drugs, alcohol, food, sleep, and sex.
My biggest challenge since the end of the toxic relationship has been healing. I feel like he caused permanent psychological damage that I can not overcome. It has been a year since I divorced him, and I still think about him when I doubt that he really thinks about me. I read a lot of books on healing and recovery and am now seeing a therapist.
My best advice for someone struggling to leave a toxic relationship is to trust your gut. Look at their actions as opposed to their words. See if there feelings are short-lived. See how much money they spend on you or bills as opposed to you spending on them. See if they have a false sense of self. See if they have a criminal history or if they frequently break the laws. See if they cannot plan long-term goals or do things that they say they will. See if they ever sincerely feel sorry. See if they ever talk about their emotions or their past. See if they show enough physical affection. See if everything that they do always has an underlying purpose for themselves.
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.