Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse


I met my first love when I was 13 and he was 19. He walked onto my local park when I was there with a friend and immediately made me laugh. I was blown away by him. He was older, funny and what's more he gave me his attention - something I was lacking at home. He started his 'games' before we even got together - by giving lots of attention to my best friend and making me feel second best, then heaping attention on me. When he finally made his choice and my friend said 'he wants you not me' I felt like I'd won the lottery.

My parents were dead against our relationship. Banning me from seeing him and grounding me. I took no notice - I was in love. They even threw me out for continuing to see him - something which just pushed me closer to him.

Looking back I can see that his control started very early on. He would be the one who would dictate when we would see each other and would be angry if I dared to turn up early. I justified his anger to myself. If I'd just turned up on time there wouldn't have been an issue would there?

He won me over with stories of how he was a songwriter and would one day be hearing his songs on the radio. He wrote songs for me and went out of his way to do things that would make me feel incredibly loved but then the darkness came and his moods changed. I would go round to his house and hear the song 'Black Hole Sun' by Soundgarden and my stomach would fill with dread because I knew that I was in for a horrid time where he would ignore me or worse. There were times when he hurt me physically – he put his hands round my throat & called me a slag because I laughed at Paul Merton on the TV or pushed me up against a wall. He even chucked a bucket of freezing water over me and threw me out in the snow with no shoes on my feet. The darkness in his eyes terrified me.
This physical damage was bad enough but the emotional/psychological was worse. He regaled me with stories of fights he’d had/showed dark moods and put me down telling me no one would ever love me like he did, or that if we ever broke up he would never get back together with me if I’d dated someone else. I recall being driven to the point where I threatened to end my life so he wouldn't leave me and he just stood there laughing and said 'go on then do it' as I sobbed and gagged on paracetamols. Everytime I would analyse my own behaviour and how I could have changed what happened, slowly becoming less 'me'.

He would use times where we were intimate to smack me (just spanking – for my pleasure apparently), call me horrid names (dirty talk he said) and make me do things which made me feel dirty though i darent say so at the time.We got to the point where I would flinch if he raised his hand quickly and this still haunts me today.

The difficulty was that although the bad times were horrid, the good times were great and once you are on the roller-coaster it's very hard to get off. Add to this that my family practically disowned me while he continued to tell me no-one would ever love me like he did and escape seemed impossible. I'd been raised in a household of secrets and witnessed a marriage that was constantly either breaking up or making me endure listening to their sex noises during their 'afternoon nap' so thought that these feelings of elation and despair were part of normal life.

It was only through meeting a married older couple who took me in via social services supported lodgings when my parents moved away from the area and I became homeless (long story) that I started to realise that love shouldn't hurt. The guy became like a father figure to me and through him I learnt what a real man should be. He and his wife helped show me that I was worth something and allowed me to imagine a life with out pain. Through them I was also able to see the pattern of behaviour that my boyfriend was demonstrating - how he would be so cruel to me only to be really lovely to me, making me believe that he would change, when clearly he wouldn't. Through them I was able to see I was worth more and walk away.

When I look back now it makes me sad that I stayed with him for so long, that I believed him when he said that no-one would ever love me the way he did. I hope to god that no-one ever 'loves' me like he did.

I’m now happily married to a wonderful man who would never hurt me or our two kids. He has had to deal with a lot of my fears, particularly during arguments where voices have been raised – something in itself which scares me and I’ve said ‘just hit me and get it over with’ (something I truly believe he will never do) – all going back to the man who was meant to show me what love was but actually just showed me what it isn’t.

Ironically, I came across him on Twitter proclaiming that he was dead against violence to women. For a short time this upset me because he was an abuser - MY abuser. Then I realised that he won't ever admit to what he did - but finally I can. He abused me - physically and mentally, he played mind games, he scarred me but now I'm free from him.


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2 thoughts on “First….love…?!

  • Catherine says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is very similar to my own which haunted me for years. And my abuser also never admitted what he’d done was abusive.
    Luckily, we do survive because we meet people who help us see a different way of being in a relationship.
    Sending you much solidarity xx

    • Cheryl says:

      Thank you Catherine and the same to you. I’m lucky that since him I dated a couple of guys who, though not ‘the one’ for me, taught me that it’s ok to want happiness and to be loved. From each of those relationship I gained strength and learned the lessons I’m certain they were meant to teach me. My hubby now is strong, but gentle, kind, but no pushover and loves me in ways I never knew I needed to be, helping me slowly take down the walls that I’ve built up. He’s seen me at my worst and still loves me without judgement. I’m absolutely sure that if it wasnt for the people in my life, past and present, and my own determination to not repeat cycles I could have ended up married to an angry, bitter, abusive man with a very bleak future. Makes me to shudder to think about it