My story began in 2008. I was in a relationship with a man who I will refer to as “SJC”. At that time, I was a single mother to an 8 year old boy. SJC came into our lives promising us a storybook life that had all the makings of ending “happily ever after”. Based on my love and trust in him and his promise of a brighter future for us including my son, I foolishly lent SJC money despite knowing the adage that money and friends don’t mix. But to me, he wasn’t just a mere friend. SJC had me believing that we were family and explained that the loan was going to be used to secure a lucrative business deal that would pave the way for our lifetime together. To add to this convincing promise, SJC suggested that I not work and instead stay home to care for “our son”. Little did I know at that time, in giving up my financial independence, I gave SJC complete control of our lives.
Over the next few months I became increasingly worried about the loan but since SJC was the sole provider for my son and me, I did not press him as assertively as I should have. As you can imagine, tension started mounting in our relationship and every time we would fight, SJC would charismatically apologize and I would fall into the pattern of forgiving him. This set the tone for the subtle abuse which would soon enough become overt abuse. In knowing he had full financial control over us, SJC took advantage of this power which made it easy for him to escalate to emotional and mental abuse. Many examples of this included occasions when SJC would force me to listen to his verbal attacks by preventing me from leaving the room since he would use his body to block the doorway. Or times when I went to reach for the phone, SJC would wrestle the phone away so that I could not call for help. After some of our fights, SJC would take away my cell phone as well as cut off my credit card. Once on vacation, SJC abandoned my son and I but not before taking cash out of my wallet then once again canceling my credit card so that I did not have access to money. This repeated pattern of abuse was his way of reminding me that he was in control.
Despite all of this, I continued to love this man since at this point, the abuse clouded my reality and I lost myself in the process. I second guessed myself, my choices and my worth. I hated myself for lending SJC the money and lived with this guilt every day. I hated myself for allowing SJC to have such a strong hold over me and my son that soon I found myself in a hole I was unable to emotionally come back from so I attempted suicide. This isn’t something I particularly want to relive but I feel it’s important to share since during this dark time, I did not seek help. I was too embarrassed to ask for assistance. I did not want to be judged for my mistakes. I kept quiet and allowed the shame and self-loathing to consume me.
In 2011, our relationship deteriorated beyond repair. SJC became increasingly abusive and paranoid. Inexplicably, he constantly was accusing me of cheating on him. One night as I slept, SJC came home and raced upstairs to the master bedroom because he thought he heard voices belonging to me and a mystery stranger. After turning on the lights and checking our bedroom, he then proceeded to inspect every room in the house even going so far as checking my son’s bedroom while he slept. I demanded to know why he was acting so crazy. In typical SJC fashion, he expertly turned the question back on me and said I should ask myself what I did to cause him to behave this way. During this narcissist rant, he ended up admitting to me that he placed digital voice recorders around our home to “catch me cheating”. I was so taken aback by his admission that I wasn’t sure what and how to feel. There was a mix bag of varying emotions from being indignant to frustrated and at times, frightened because he clearly was not mentally or emotionally stable. In the past, SJC has invaded my right to privacy by going into my computer files and personal records without my knowledge and consent but I forgave him since he somehow manipulated me into believing that we should share everything about ourselves in order to be in a true and honest relationship. This time however the voice recorders and going into my son’s room was inexcusable. Just as abusers fall into patterns of repeated behaviors, their victims also are complicit with allowing it to happen over and over again so although I was angry, confused and hurt, I forgave him once more.
However weeks later after giving myself time to fully reconcile his volatility and the constant abuse of power and control I endured during the relationship, I finally found the courage and strength to break things off with SJC. Additionally, I had enough of the cheating accusations and I wanted to break free. However, the abuse did not simply end there.
Days later, SJC continued harassing me with constant text messages. What’s worse was when he sent my son a text message accusing me of stealing from him. Needless to say, it wasn’t very fun to explain to my young son that SJC was being petty and vengeful by demanding I return all gift items he gave me.
Since I did not respond to this text, SJC decided to come to my house without warning to personally make his demand for the gift items. To get rid of him since my son was also home at that time, I packed everything he bought me and threw it over the balcony into the front patio so that I would not have to open the front door to let him in. I wish at that time I filed a restraining order against SJC but in the back of my mind, I was afraid if I got him too angry he will continue to withhold the money he still owed. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I will never make this same mistake again.