Flashback to 2010 - that's when it all began for me. I was 17, in high school and fell for the "bad boy". It was so unlike me; I always played it safe, but he was the danger that deep down I had been seeking. The first year of our relationship was just good enough to keep me interested, never amazing, but definitely not toxic or abusive either. We were both young, trying to figure ourselves out and what our next steps were going to be. Red Flag number 1 that I ignored was when he dropped out of high school. I was applying to Universities and he had decided school "wasn't for him". Naively, I stayed and figured he would get his diploma when it was "right for him". Not being in school gave him way too much time on his hands, it's when things started to go down hill, fast. He started using drugs more heavily, drinking and spending way too much time with friends who never had his best interest.

I remember the first time the dark side of him showed up, it wasn't too long after he had dropped out of high school. I was terrified. We were at my house and he decided that he was going to go through my computer and read all my iMessages. He locked himself in my bathroom for hours, scrolling through, trying to find something to get angry about. He eventually found an old message to an ex-boyfriend (from 2009, before he and I were even together), but that was enough to set him off into a fit of rage. I remember him screaming at me from behind the locked bathroom door, and I immediately fled from my house and just started running hoping that he wouldn't come out and see where I was going. I hid in a neighbours pine tree for what felt like hours, as he paced up and down my street, yelling my name at the top of his lungs, hysterically crying and carrying on as if I had done something so horrible. I was too scared to come out. Finally, I saw his parents come and pick him up, and once they had left I ran back to my house. When I got inside, I saw that he had punched multiple holes in my walls, and I couldn't help but think that could have been my face. That was the first time that I saw his true colours, the first time I was scared for my life, but it definitely wasn't the last, that was only the beginning of the vicious cycle of abuse.

I went to University 2 hours away, and that could have and should have been my out. But, instead, we decided that we were going to take a swing at a long distance relationship. As you can imagine, things only continued to get worse from here. He became insecure, jealous, accusing me of cheating on him and made me come home from school every weekend to "prove" I loved him. If I didn't come home, he would find a way to come up. I felt smothered and trapped. Him coming to stay on residence with me didn't last long, because two months into me living there he was physically removed by security and banned from ever coming back. Here's the short version of that story...

He was angry that I was doing school work and not paying attention to him, so he started raising his voice and getting agitated, what was the point of him being here if I wasn't going to pay attention to him? I was ignoring him and next thing I new, the office chair I was sitting in was knocked over and I was on the ground, he was standing over it not letting me up, and just screaming at me. Before that had the chance to escalate, my roommate came running into the room, screamed at him to get off of me and told him she was calling security. He quickly got off and let me up, playing it off like nothing was going on, but she had already called security. Second later, security was at my door physically removing him from my room.

Needless to say, I had the worst University experience, I didn't make any friends and I skipped so many classes to come rushing home to him. Even when I came home for him, things were tense and toxic between us, he didn't spend any time with me, he would go out with his friends all weekend, and when he was home all we did was fight and disagree. I couldn't do my school work without him getting angry. He was explosive, he hit me, he broke my thumb, he trapped me in his room, in his house, he violated me, he forced himself on me, yet weekend after weekend, I kept going back.

That's the cycle, right? How and when do you get out? I broke free so many times, but it was always so short lived. He would come crawling back, telling me how much he loved me and needed me, and deep down, I thought I loved him too. His parents would text me, manipulating me, asking me how I could do this to their son. He needs me, I need to help him. And I wanted to help him, I thought I could make him into a better version of himself. But that never happened, and our situation continued to escalate.

It wasn't until April 2015 that I finally ended things for good. Between the daily abuse, he had ruined my Christmas, cheated on me, and then missed my birthday and suddenly something in my just clicked. I realized I deserved so much better, I was worthy of real love and respect and that was something I was never going to get from him. I broke up with him and ended the cycle, for me anyway. Two months later, he started dating Alicia, and that was only the beginning for her. But I'll let her fill you in on that story.