BETHESDA, Maryland, October 5, 2014 — Ellen* is a survivor of intimate partner and sociopath abuse who lives and is studying to become a doctor in the United States.
Before I met my boyfriend, I was living in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I was a smart, funny, outgoing and independent girl. I had a car and registered for college. I was working and paying for myself. I had had a few instances of drug and alcohol problems and was actively keeping myself out of trouble.
Just before I met him, my grandmother slipped into a coma from diabetes. I was locked out of my house by a controlling aunt. I found myself needing to live with my mother, who suffered from schizophrenia.
Despite my background, I still was a responsible person. I began paying my own way at this age. I played violin, sang, drew, wrote and was very much alive. I was intelligent, and I had many hopes for my future. I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I registered for community college and applied for all my grants and loans. I got scholarships as well. I started getting all A’s in my classes.
I continued to get A’s even as the relationship moved on. I drove him to school, got him jobs and wanted to be with him all the time. I was happy to have him, but I started to feel burdened. My friends started to back away from me. My mother kept insisting that he was a parasite. I defended him and held on to him for dear life. I started to feel addicted to him.
He convinced me and wore me down into taking drugs, drinking excessively, and doing the wrong things. I fought with him over it, and it took him a long time to wear me down from the straight-A college student to a drug addicted girl.
We moved into a ghetto, and I really became invisible. None of my friends talked to me any more. We didn’t go anywhere except to bars. I had finished my associates degree, and it was time to move on to my bachelors, but he really just wanted to do drugs. He slowly got my agreement to turn form waitress to escort to support our drug habit. I really died at this point, my ambition and drive were all gone. My self-esteem was in the gutter. I couldn’t take care of myself. I couldn’t dress myself properly, I was bipolar and had post-traumatic stress. I never reached out for help from anyone, as they would always tell me to leave him, and I was just far too programmed to do that.
One day I stopped being able to do anything at all. We were homeless and completely strung out at the age of 22. It took 4 years for me to go from a bright future to the dregs of society. When I stopped being able to supply him, he dropped me like a rock. He walked away and left me on the street to die.
I got into recovery programs, and attended them for 13 years; I got better and better, started to love myself again.
I finally got to medical school and met another one.
I had to leave one school to go to another less expensive school, and it was a this school that I met the next one. I had not had any relationship from 24 until then…age 36.
At first, I thought we could study together. While I was very stressed out from school, I had gotten myself all the way to medical school on my own. My ambition was back, my self-confidence was much higher, I felt that I looked good and I loved myself and was enjoying life (with residuals still sort of lingering from the past relationship).
As I continued to study with him and be around him, I felt more and more bullied. I started to watch my recovery slip away. I began to eat foods I knew I couldn’t eat just to please him. I still studied, but didn’t have attention and focus. I laughed at his inappropriately sadistic jokes, and my professional demeanor started to waiver; I started to become like him and to become quiet.
I stopped talking to other people in our class. I started to dislike things and to become more angry and less grateful. The deep sadness in my heart woke up again, and even though I was on a beautiful island, it became harder and harder for me to enjoy it. I tried to break away, moved to a different place. He tormented me as he was in my class. He played with me, humiliated me and alienated me from my peers. Even with all of my recovery and therapy, I could not completely shake the descent.
I began to smoke marijuana every day to kill the emotional pain. I had not done any drugs or drank in 13 years. I began overeating, loosing several years of food sobriety. I put on weight and liked myself less and less. I did not want my picture taken and did not want to attend events.
My friends reached out to me to help me study, but the torment was there. The PTSD symptoms got worse, and I lived in fear and anxiety. When we came back to the states, I moved into the same dorm and attempted to reconcile with him. He began to drink every night; I smoked. We didn’t study. I started to completely unravel. Nightmares, flashbacks and just general “craziness” plagued me. I am normally a strong independent opinionated person, and I felt myself succeeding. I was starting to fragment into dissociative parts. I was very fearful of him, yet wanted his love and wanted to fix the situation. I then became homicidal toward him.
I discovered he had several other women he was talking to, including underage teens. I was very angry. He would not allow me to talk about it. The homicidal urge got so great it scared me into separating from him. At this point, I was having nightmares, could not sleep or eat properly, could not study and could not function. I really, really fell apart when I came back to Philadelphia when semester was over. I felt completely dissociated form my own body, gained 50 pounds and just got ugly and unkempt. Prior to this, I kept my appearance very neat and attractive. I wore the same pajamas all day, every day. I had trouble showering. I needed crisis therapy and to be on online forums all the time just to not act on homicidal/suicidal urges.
I had to begin taking psychoactive medications. After I started the medications, I began to put my programs back together. I got sober, I got food sober, and I started attending SLAA again. I am in the process of putting it back together; it has been 8 months. I still struggle with mental obsession about him, the situation, the past, etc. I still cannot stop some of my addictive behaviors, but I am eating well, exercising, taking my meds and sleeping, finally. I still have a long road, and I must do all this while completing medical school. I am terrified that I will have to see him again in clinicals.
I look back and see that they both did similar things. They both wanted to move in together within the first few dates. I accepted with the first one but declined in the second one (I had learned a little something). They both wanted to spend copious amounts of time together beginning with the first date. They wanted to spend everyday together. They both also played love music. The first was Bob Dylan, the second, a plethora of love songs from the 60’s and 70’s. The first time, I didn’t realize that these feelings couldn’t possibly be real in a relationship only a few days old, the second time I did. The songs were the really heavy hitters about eternal love and happily ever after, etc. Mostly, just them being “there” from moment one was the love bombing. I never had time away from them to consider how I was really feeling. I never got the opportunity, because they were always there.
In the first relationship, I was devalued into sub humanness. I was turned into a homeless prostitute. When he left, he and his family blamed me, as I was the perfect scapegoat. I had no dad growing up, my mother was schizophrenic, etc etc. So obviously, it must have been my fault. In reality, I was the one who made him register for school, drove him to classes, got him jobs and really wanted a functional relationship. In return, he forced his drug addiction and mental health problems on me. I tried to battle him, and he wore me down.
The second one flirted with other women in front of me, talked over me, would not let me talk and told me what I thought. He ridiculed my interests. He made faces at me. There is no way to describe this; it was so subtle. He made faces of disgust. He made bullying demeaning faces. The psychological effects were great. The looks and comments made me quieter, more fearful. He shamed me if I had something in my teeth. He made me feel disgusting. Normal people would say “you have something in your teeth.” He would make a totally disgusted face and refuse to eat the rest of the meal. He talked about me to my own friends and classmates behind my back. He wrote comments on his Facebook page such as “she’s out of my league, in that she is beneath me” and “no one appreciates their old girlfriend until the new one gives you herpes.” I do not, in fact have herpes. I did not sleep with him, either, and I was not his girlfriend. We were however, in a dance of “love.” When I posted on his facebook page, he deleted it. The one post he did leave up, he wrote “no like”. When we went to a function for Thanksgiving, he wrote on Facebook about how pathetic it was and how terrible the people were.
He talked over me to shut me up.
He played on my weakness. I am an alcoholic, and he tempted and tempted me and argued me into taking a drink. Then he gave me pills. He forced food on me. He grabbed my face and poured alcohol in my mouth.
The times I did want to have sex with him, he immediately jumped up and left. I later learned he would go on the internet and have “Skype sex” with whomever he could get.
When I stopped talking to him, he tried to have sex with every woman in our class. I think he raped one woman. He then bragged about it, knowing the information would get to me and it would drive me crazy.
He was intentionally very nice to his two online romances; he showered them with affection. He posted and posted on their walls. Romeo and Juliet. He took the experience we were having together and pulled other women in on it. He gave all his love feelings for me to a girl online who was 2000 miles away. He gave his sexual desire for me to anyone but me.
I refused to engage in the painful degrading sex, because I knew that was all he could give. Even though I saw these behaviors and hated them, I could not quite free myself. I was always afraid he would rape me, hit me and be even crueler. He did most of his threatening through non verbal gestures.
I moved into a new apartment and got a car to back away from him. I also did not sit with him in class. He got very angry and scary and immediately began to punish me. He acted threatening. This is after he ignored me completely over our three week break, when before this we were hanging out every day. He hurt me, but it was not okay for me to pull away from being hurt.
I had to constantly worry that he would show up at the new apartment; and since he knew I expected him to stalk me, he didn’t. All part of the crazy making. He responded by secretly getting involved with another woman through Facebook. He then laughed to himself that I didn’t even know it and didn’t tell me. He bragged to our male friends about how much women wanted him. He laughed about tossing me aside. Punishment.
When we moved into the dorm, I tried to reconcile and so did he. But first, he proceeded to secure sexual encounters on the internet. The relationship deteriorated all together; there was no studying or anything productive going on in our relationship. We did not eat healthy home cooked meals together anymore. Somehow, he approached me more and admitted to feelings when the deterioration was imminent. Now that I knew he had another girlfriend, I was less willing to work on being with him. He had made a decision, and now he wanted to renege. He left his Facebook open, and I saw all of his stuff – all the conversations, the sadism, the psychopathy. I saw that he had written sadistic stories. I believe the theme was raping me. Still, I was trapped. He played the “help me” card. But by then, I was really not even interested in helping; i just wanted to get away.
The relationship pulled me in, and I behaved in ways that went against who I was:
>>He was 25, and I don’t believe a 25-year-old and a 36-year-old belong together, but he had me thinking that it was okay.
>>I knew I couldn’t drink, and he convinced me that I could.
>>I knew I shouldn’t eat sugar, and I was eating sugar.
>>I did not ever want to be dominated, as I am a strong woman; he had me think that maybe being subservient was okay.
>>He had me cooking for him
>>I was never a person who tried to please and be perfect, but I started doing this. I started trying to make the outsides look okay after a long life of not concerning myself with appearances and trying to be an authentic person. I started to become fake.
>>I believe in talking about feelings, and I actually started not talking about anything to anyone. I did not want to tell the truth.
>>I knew I was an addict and needed meetings. I stopped going for fear of his reaction.
I experienced both homicidal and suicidal feelings. I wanted to murder him and thought of many ways to do it. I also wanted to murder his older brother for giving him some of the advice on how to control me, as his brother, mother and father were all psychopaths. Honestly, I still feel like someone needs to take care of him, as all he will ever do is harm people. I still also feel suicidal when I think that I will never be able to be in a true loving relationship.
To escape the pain, I distracted myself with marijuana, food and fantasy addiction.
Dealing with wanting to kill him has been really hard. I hate feeling that way. I am still mentally obsessed to a degree. He will not leave my mind. Even when I try to meditate, he is there. I cannot get away!
I go to SLAA, AA, SIA (for incest survivors) and GSA ( a food program). I have two therapists, I take medication for PTSD. I belong to Facebook support groups, one for survivors of abduction and abuse (I felt like I was taken hostage). I use a PTSD forum and Pandora’s aquarium (for survivors of sexual abuse). I used Melanie Tonya Evans recovery from narcissistic abuse modules. I belong to Facebook pages that educate about narcissism and psychopathy. I meditate. I am using a book called “Essential Spirituality” to heal my spirit. I will be doing another Melanie Tonya Evans workshop soon, which focuses on replacing mother-father energy with something good. I am really trying to heal the underlying wounds, so I am not as susceptible to psychopaths. Also, I am attempting to manage my triggers for escorting with SWA (sex workers anonymous) and have just begun looking into that.
My best advice to someone who is struggling to leaving their toxic relationship is to remind them that the longer you stay, the more damage is done. Get out, ASAP. Find places where you can get help and commit yourself to yourself.
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.