The second half of 2014 was the worst time of my life. My brother Jeremy died and my world flipped upside down. Then in he walked, right through my cloud of grief. He and his whole family knew my brother. They were friends. He sent me a message on Facebook in April 2015 saying he wanted to be there for me, and he was sorry he wasn’t around sooner. (Red Flag: The message came in around 3:30 in the morning). Of course the allure was already enough for me. He was my brothers friend, he could fill the chunk of me that I was missing since Jeremy died. Wrong.

We hung out a few times, and he seemed charming, funny, and so kind. At the beginning my friends and I kept saying “no one is this nice”, we were shocked at how kind he was. He convinced me he wanted to be there for not just me, but my little sister Rachel too. She means everything to me, and he knew that. As soon as he started making an effort with Rachel, and playing the “boyfriend” role, I was sold.

It wasn’t long until I had basically moved into his families house, and started living with him.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase ended pretty quickly... It was just a few months before I started seeing glimpses of the real him. They came out of seemingly no where, but it never did take much to set him off. He was angry and cruel. He started calling me names that I had never been called, and talking to me in a way I never could have imagined in my nightmares. He had serious substance abuse problems, and that only ever made him behave worse, and become more volatile.

At this point my mental health was at its all time low. I was grieving, I was in my second year of college, I had lost a lot of friends after my brother died because they didn’t know how to handle my grief, and then I lost almost all of my other friends because he wanted me all to himself. It was the perfect recipe for him to have total control over me. He dictated everything in my life, from what I wore, who I talked to, where I went, even when I got to sleep. I was in such a dark place, and he convinced me that I deserved what he was doing to me. On top of that I felt trapped and alone, with only him to lean on. No where to go, no one to talk to besides him and his dysfunctional, manipulative family.

He started forcing himself on me, I would get punished if I was too tired to have sex. I quickly learned that “no” wasn’t ever an option to him. This turned into a nightly thing, sometimes multiple times a day. He pushed me around, threatened me, cheated on me, called me every name under the sun, raped me, trapped me in his room, hit me, screamed at me, gaslit me, and always did it with a smile. Whenever I was out without him, or just asleep at my parents place he would call and leave voicemails till my inbox was full. Some nights I would just turn my phone off to avoid the 50 calls I knew were coming because he was drinking, again. This lasted years. There were so many times that I tried to leave, but he always convinced me to come back. If he couldn’t convince me, then his parents would call me and text me. They would show up at my house begging me to help them with him, and evidently they didn’t take no for an answer either.

It wasn’t until November 2018 that my therapist helped me find a safe way out of the relationship. That wasn’t the end like I had hoped. I needed to go to his house to pick up the last of my things. He tried to get me to come inside but I said I wasn’t getting out of my car, so he got in. His last attempt to get me to stay was that night and ended with him proposing to me (with no ring, out of desperation) and saying he would get us a place of our own. I obviously said no, and spent the next half hour begging him to get out of my car. I finally convinced him to get out of my car by promising I would text him when I got home, and letting him believe we would meet up the next day. He thought we were getting back together, I just needed him out of my car and said what I needed to say. Survival mode became my saviour.

Keep on surviving, survivor. Xo, Alicia