TRIGGER WARNING: No-holds-barred descriptions of sexual violence and strong language to follow (also, discussion of depression, PTSD, alcohol abuse, and anorexia). Please, practice self-care in reading this, as I made sure to do so in writing it. Also, please be mindful of your comments, because this is very delicate subject matter and … pretty much as personal as it gets.
. •°*•*°• . CHAPTER 5 . •°*•*°• .
This next chapter regales the story of my first committed relationship — with a man we’ll call *Dopey — which devolved yet again into abuse.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been in an abusive relationship, but it was the first time I had experienced abuse under the guise of “love.”
Before I can get to that, though, I have to explain the circumstances under which I first met *Dopey. And in order to do so, there is another individual I must mention.
After winter break, when I returned to campus, I began frequenting the Starbucks in which I had first met up with *Doc, because I was hoping I would see him pass by. I didn’t want to start up again with him … but I had this unshakable, nonsensical desire to see him, watch him.
I was fascinated by how positively normal he looked, just walking around in downtown Evanston, IL. No one seemed to understand as they passed by him that he was dangerous — a sadistic criminal — and I felt like I was the only one who knew.
It’s strange, isn’t it, how you never really know.
Anyway, there was this regular at Starbucks who took a shining to me. Let’s call him *Bashful. He was a 39 year old graphic designer and “rapper” with a patch of short, yellow dreadlocks on top of his head — and I didn’t learn until later, but he had evidently been banned from several coffee establishments in the area on the grounds of having repeatedly sexually harassed women.
**N.B.: Since publishing this story, a few female friends of mine have informed me that they, too, have been repeatedly harassed by this individual (one of them even managed to call the cops on him once). If you are a woman living in Evanston, IL — take heed. Read the description I provided (trust me, you’ll know him when you see him).**
He started chatting me up, and I was very short with him. Whenever it got to the point when I had to adamantly request that he leave me alone, he would pull the line, “I just want to be friends; it’s so hard to find friends in this town …” which quickly escalated into, “What — you don’t want to make friends? What’s wrong with you that you don’t want friends?”
It was an excruciatingly cyclical conversation, and of course, I knew what it was he actually wanted. And I told him straight off that I wasn’t interested, that I hated sex, that I wasn’t any good at it, that I had a long history of sexual abuse, and that I didn’t give blowjobs.
And somehow none of this deterred him.
I wasn’t flattered; I was annoyed. He badgered me for my number over and over, and I refused him again and again. We continued to run into each other all over town for the next week or so — I was almost convinced he was stalking me. After awhile, I got exhausted from the pursuit and gave him my phone number, figuring that it would only take a night or two of actually being intimate with me for him to realize I had nothing to offer him.
At least he offered to do a liquor run for me, which was the only upside.
Anyway, I went over to his place, and we started talking and drinking. I remember him saying something like, “Man, I can’t wait for you to get drunk — you’re so insecure and shit!” Yep. I, too, couldn’t wait to get drunk …
He also mentioned that his drug dealer (*Dopey) and another friend were coming over to bring him some weed and would stay for awhile to smoke it with us. So that happened. *Dopey turned out to be really attractive and exponentially more charming and interesting than *Bashful, so I spent most of my time on the couch talking to him.
Needless to say, I ended up getting thoroughly crunk. So crunk that I somehow found myself sitting on *Bashful’s bed alone with *Dopey, making out!? I remember entertaining the thought that maybe the three of these men were planning to gang bang me or something, but I was too intoxicated to make my body catch up with my thoughts enough to make a run for it.
Things started escalating, and I noticed how not in control of my body I was. My panties eventually came off, and *Dopey was poised to enter me, when … *Bashful knocked on the door. We scrambled to make it look like nothing had been happening, but *Bashful took one look at us and he knew. He started screaming at *Dopey and kicked him and his friend out of the apartment (but not before *Dopey managed to get my phone number from me; I still don’t know how I was able to recite it to him accurately, that’s how hammered I was).
Throughout all of the commotion, I stood alone in *Bashful’s room, terrified. I didn’t know if this man was violent, and somewhere in my mind behind all of the cloudiness that the drugs had created, I was aware that I had just committed one of the worst cardinal sins of dating.
I could only think of one way to avoid retribution for my actions, so I undressed and climbed into his bed and waited.
I remember hearing *Dopey, as he was leaving the apartment, say to *Bashful, “Hey, man … Respect. Respect, man. Respect …” and I found that kind of amusing, given the circumstances.
Anyway, *Bashful and I had sex, and I felt terrible afterwards. I was more paranoid from the pot than I ever had been before and I could feel my hangover coming already. At one point, after *Bashful went to sleep, I tried to make a run for it — I grabbed the bottle of Malibu that I had paid for and left the room, but panicked once I noticed there was a night guard working at the front desk and I was underage. I went back, but the door had locked behind me, so I called *Bashful, and he opened the door — confused as to why I had left in the first place — and we stayed up all night yelling at each other.
*Dopey texted me a bunch after that, and we ended up getting together. In the texts, he had told me how “fun” he thought I was, so I figured I couldn’t ever let him see me sober. It took us over a month to actually have sober sex for the first time, and looking back on it, I guesstimate that over the course of the 9 months we spent together, about 84% of the sex we had was when at least one of us (usually both) was inebriated.
At first, it was really fun. He was incredibly charming upfront, and well … I was always drunk, so that really took the edge off.
The first couple of times we saw each other, we ended up going over to *Bashful’s place to hang out all together, but eventually I got tired of playing that dubious game. I knew that I had to stop hanging out with *Bashful completely if I was going to keep seeing *Dopey, so that’s what I did.
It didn’t take long, though, for me to discover that *Dopey had just as much of an anal fixation as *Doc had. Right after I refused to go down on him, he tried to pressure me into having anal with him. I said that we could try it … and it was the first time I had ever experienced it with lube … but the pain was still too much, and I couldn’t bear the physical flashback that brought me back to being raped by *Doc, so I told him to stop, and he did.
Before we saw each other next, though, I felt that I had to clear up my boundaries explicitly, to give him a chance to think critically about whether he wanted to continue our affair or not.
So I sent him the following text message:
“Listen, I just want to make sure we’re clear on my boundaries. I’m not going to change my mind about anal/oral, so if that’s not okay with you, I don’t want to make you come all the way over here just to be disappointed. It’s your choice, and I wouldn’t hold it against you if you’re not getting the sexual gratification you need from me and decide you don’t want to keep seeing me. But if you do want to, I need to feel secure in that you’re not going to try to push me past my limits. It’s fine whatever you decide, but please, be honest, that’s all I ask.”
He said he definitely wanted us to keep seeing each other.
Who knows if he had really thought it through, but at least now, he wouldn’t be able to claim ignorance if he tried to take advantage of me.
The next time we got together, I learned that he had a bona fide ”fatty fetish.” Like, it wasn’t just that he preferred “women with meat on their bones” — he actually watched porn of morbidly obese women. I didn’t know how to feel about it at first … Was liking me solely on the basis of my body type really any different in theory than rejecting me based solely on my body type?
But in the long run, it ended up really working out. As soon as he picked up on the fact that I was anorexic, he would encourage me to eat whenever he was around. It still wasn’t terribly healthy, because he did tell me that he would prefer that I put on weight (and that’s sort of just as uncouth as telling someone to lose weight, if you think about it), so I ended up overeating and that’s sort of just the equal/opposite problem as starving oneself.
But being with him really altered my self-image in an unexpected way. When I would look in the mirror, suddenly I was seeing myself through the eyes of someone who was more attracted to fat women than to skinny women, and so instead of thinking of myself as beautiful despite my body, I was thinking of myself as beautiful because of my body.
And it was a really nice change.
On the other hand, I started getting a sadistic vibe from him. He was so hard to read, though, because he was constantly back-pedaling and changing his views based on my reaction to whatever he said.
But one thing I remember vividly was when we were sitting on my bed, listening to some music, he turned to me, and with a sick, twisted smile on his face, he said, “Do you like sex and violence?”
I totally froze. I panicked, my heartbeat accelerated, and I couldn’t speak. I only had the wherewithal to shake my head.
He could tell that I freaked out a bit, so he apologized and said he shouldn’t have said anything. I tried to just forget about it, but I felt really afraid all of a sudden. Like, here I thought this might be someone I could begin healing with, but what if he turned out to be just another monster?
A few times during sex, he even put his hands around my neck. He stopped doing it each time I removed them. But just the thought that he wanted to do that to me — and that he didn’t ask first or anything — made me feel uncomfortable. (Even to this day, when a man I’m sleeping with even so much as asks if I’m into such-and-such-a-thing-that-traumatized-me, I can’t help but go into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. I’m getting better at dealing with it, but it’s a huge internal struggle every time.)
Anyway, I stifled that fear for the time being. After all, I could’ve just been being paranoid, and he hadn’t actually done anything to hurt me … yet.
As time went on, I learned more and more about him. He revealed to me in confidence that he was an illegal immigrant, that his mother had abandoned him when he was just a child, and that he slept on the floor of his stepfather’s flat, where he lived with his little brother and sister.
He also mentioned that his stepfather charged him for storage.
I felt so deeply for him when I heard all of that, that I offered him my bed to sleep in whenever he needed it, and said that he could keep some of his stuff in my room because I wouldn’t charge him (and my inner girl squeed so hard the first time he ever left his flannel pajama bottoms at my place — it was just the most adorable thing that had ever happened in my liiife, zomg).
At first, he was very careful not to take advantage of that offer (he said he wanted to “respect my space”). But one night, his stepfather kicked him out (it probably had something to do with drugs; they had a very volatile relationship because of that, among other things), and so he brought all of his stuff over piece by piece and somehow wound up living in my apartment.
It was never an official transition. I didn’t even realize what was happening until it occurred to me that he had essentially “moved in.” It was so clever. I almost applaud him for his stealth, although it really complicated ALL THE THINGS.
Especially when he got fired from his job. I said that I would support him while he found a new one. The thought occurred to me that he was just using me, but I convinced myself that I was only suspecting that because of my trust issues, and told myself that perhaps it was time for me to just relax for a change.
As for the sex, it started triggering me on a regular basis. He only really liked doing it from behind (which obviously, I had negative associations with), and he was always chastising me for touching him too much, but he never gave me the affection I needed in return to console me for the sex I didn’t enjoy — and again, I was too afraid to ask for it most of the time because I had been conditioned by *Doc to keep my needs to myself (like when he blamed me for not being able to climax, shamed me for not enjoying sex the way he liked it, told me I was too much work for too little reward, &c.).
Another issue was that *Dopey was a total pothead, so we ended up smoking together a lot. Until I realized that the paranoia that resulted from it made me 10x more likely to be triggered during sex, so I had to stop (and to this day, I can’t smoke pot anymore — in any situation — because of those horrible associations).
So after every time *Dopey and I would have sex, I ended up weeping silently to myself while he fell asleep. If he thought he heard something, he’d ask, “Are you crying??” And every time, I answered, “No.”
I didn’t want his sympathy. I really didn’t want him to notice. I just wanted to be okay.
It wasn’t as if I refrained from trying to communicate my feelings at all to him. It’s just that, every time I expressed even the slightest feminist thought (e.g., “we’re supposed to be an equal partnership, we should both be making compromises,” &c.), he would reply with a harsh, “Chill out!!” (aka: the misogynist’s staple defense) and that would always make me retreat into myself to fume in isolation.
It was an effective silencing technique that he utilized often.
But when I was drunk, I really loved being with him. Looking back, I feel as though liquor was the adhesive for our entire relationship. And at the same time, its demise …
Anyway, one night I skipped a concert I really wanted to go to (Emilie Autumn — she sings a lot of angry-girl goth music about sexual assault and such, which was there for me at a time I needed it most — do check her out if you’re looking for something like that) so that I could spend time with *Dopey.
It turned out to be a very ironic mistake.
My roommates were home that night, and right as *Dopey and I were about to have sex, he said, “Be quiet, though, because you’re really loud and I hate that.” He could tell that comment made me a little bit sadface, so he amended, “I mean, I hate that they can hear us.”
So we started doing it doggy-style, and he took his phone out to video-tape me (which is something he liked to do a lot, and I didn’t know how to feel about it because I’d never been in that situation before, but he promised me the videos would remain private, so I let it slide as long as the room was dark enough and didn’t reveal my face).
I tried to keep the noise level down, but some moans still managed to escape. He got really frustrated and said, “Come on!!” and cupped his hand around my mouth, pounding into me angrily and repeatedly shushing me.
I was immediately triggered.
Now here’s the thing about triggers. There are a lot of different ways to deal with them, and with a lot of patience and practice, those various responses can be controlled (follow that link and search “dealing with triggers,” if you are curious). I hadn’t learned about all of that at the time, and one of my most common coping mechanisms for triggers was dissociation. This is the “freeze” part of the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. And it’s exactly how it sounds: you freeze up, try to be somewhere else — anywhere else than where you actually are — and it makes you feel as if you’re being sexually assaulted all over again. (And dissociation is also a common response to an assault itself, which explains why the victim doesn’t always physically fight back; the mind is capable of so many ways of coping with trauma, and it’s important to be aware of that.)
I was completely unnerved by how much *Dopey seemed to be enjoying this rough-housing (and in retrospect, I believe it to have been for show, for the camera). He was getting off on oppressing me. He was getting angry at me for enjoying myself, so I simply stopped enjoying myself. And I kept wanting to tell him to just stop, but every time I entertained the thought, I imagined the things he might say to me in response:
“Stop taking sex so seriously!“
“Why can’t you just react normally?!“
“Oh, quit being such a woman!“
So I just closed my eyes, held my breath, and waited for it to be over.
Afterwards, I curled up into a ball, trembling and silently weeping, and I guess he just decided not to say anything.
A few days later, *Dopey and I had a huge fight about abortion, in which he revealed to me that his ex-girlfriend had aborted his child (after telling him that she wanted to keep it), and he wept openly in my arms.
As soon as that happened, I decided to keep my pro-choice opinions to myself, because obviously, this topic was to him what rape was to me, and if I ever got up the courage to tell him about my sexual history and expected him to react compassionately, I had better do the same for him here and now.
That night when we had sex, he “accidentally” put it in my ass, and I had to run to the bathroom to cry.
About a week or so went by, and I guess he started to pick up on the fact that my episodes were actually indicative of something, so he started trying to pull it out of me.
One afternoon, we were sitting on my bed, taking about movies, and he asked me if I’d ever seen Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.
Duh, I had.
So he asked me if I would ever do that … erase someone from my memory. I immediately thought of *Doc, and said yes, I would. He asked me why. I said, “Because I’d be a different person.” How, he wondered. “I’d be happy.”
We kept talking, and he kept probing. He said that maybe, if I talked about it, I’d feel better. That I’d realize that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, and that it wasn’t personal. I told him that realizing that doesn’t make the trauma go away.
And eventually I revealed to him that I was afraid to tell him about my pain, because I knew that he would just respond by telling me how much more he’s suffered in his life than I have (which is something he was prone to doing — and understandably so, because his life had been filled with tremendous hardships, and I was born privileged).
Then he told me, “Maybe that’s why I’m here — to help you.” But I told him I didn’t want that to be the relationship. That I didn’t need him to sit there and tell me how to feel, that I needed to go through my process if I was ever going to heal.
He said, “I understand.” And I said, “Thank you. That’s all I want from you.”
The conversation moved on, but I could feel the tears coming, so I just proceeded to pound the beer I was drinking to try to achieve enough numbness to the point where I wouldn’t care anymore. It didn’t work, so I eventually excused myself to the bathroom so that I could weep in private.
When I came back, he asked if I was okay, and I lied and said I was.
He said, “I need to fuck you in your butthole.”
I replied, “Then you’ll have to find yourself another girl.”
So he said, “I guess I do, in that regard.”
I felt like he was just kicking me while I was down, so I said, “Fuck you,” and got really moody and quiet. He got fed up with my attitude and got up to leave — and that’s when I realized that I had to tell him. I wasn’t going to allow this to happen again. I had lost *Happy because I hadn’t spoken up, and now I was going to lose *Dopey the same way.
So I said, through choked tears, “I was anally raped, okay? Repeatedly.”
He said he was sorry … but started leaving anyway. Said that he needed to “get his mind off of that now.”
How wonderful for him that he can get his mind off of it.
I started crying harder and told him that he should see someone else, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sexually satisfy him.
He said that he was sexually satisfied, kissed me, and left.
I erupted. I wept for literally five hours straight. It was scary. I couldn’t believe that he would break me down like that and not even stick around to pick up the pieces.
When he came back that night, he said, “I want to apologize to you about earlier, what I said … I didn’t mean to offend you. And I’m sorry.” I said it was okay, and we dropped it.
Of course, it wasn’t okay, but I was so emotionally drained, I didn’t know where to take it from there.
That night, before we went to sleep, he said, “Just don’t fall in love with me, okay?”
What the fuck? Where did that even come from?
I asked what he meant, and he said that he cared about me, but love was just a touchy subject for him right now and he didn’t want to “break my heart.”
He was always confusing me like that. The next day when he came over, one of the first things he said to me was, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we ended up getting married?” I said, “Why do you say shit like that?” He just shrugged and said, “Couldn’t hurt.”
Those comments were just a mild annoyance. After all, I didn’t take love seriously. I took sex seriously. And for good reason.
A couple days later, we were about to leave to go hang out with my friends, and *Dopey asked me if he could transfer all the files off his mp3 player into my computer.
As I was doing it, I saw some old pictures and pornography of him and his ex-girlfriend. He apologized, said that he forgot they were on there. It was disturbing nonetheless (after all, he had taken some pornographic video of me, and the last thing I wanted to be was just another porn file in his memory card … haha, that sounded strangely poetic).
We started kissing, but he broke the kiss to say, “Man, I wish you sucked dick!!”
How many fucking times did the broken record that is my life have to skip??
Needless to say, that comment really pissed me off, so I excused myself from the room and tried to cool off in the kitchen. When I went back in, he said he was sorry for what he said. I asked him why he had said it. He said he didn’t know, that he was really drunk.
This probably would’ve devolved into a huge argument, but my friends were waiting for us, and I really didn’t want to stay in and fume over this, so we left, and the anger dissolved with time — and more alcohol.
After that, we went back to being adorable together. He even started kissing me in public?! Which was weird. But okay, I figured I’d just go with the flow. He also said that I had become his “guardian angel,” and kept making comments about us hanging out over the summer (months into the future), so again, this confused me. But things started sailing really smoothly.
But then weeks later, he brought a movie over for us to watch together that was set in prison.
I asked him if there was any anal rape in it (because people with trauma triggers have to be wary about that kind of stuff), and he said, “No … but if you’re into that, there are a couple of websites we could look at …”
I responded to that by asking him why he had to be such an asshole.
He laughed and asked me why I couldn’t be more “open-minded.”
That made me furious. I reminded him that I’d had anal sex. He asked me how it was. What the fuck?! “You know,” I said. “You already know — I told you!” And he said, “Geez, chill out, look, I’m sorry if you had a bad experience or something …”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Why was he acting like I hadn’t told him? I was in shock. He then told me that he didn’t remember me telling him anything and apologized for his “bad memory.” More shock. So he said, “What — were you raped or something?” Yes, I said, repeatedly — “I told you!”
He said he was sorry that happened to me, and that he wished he had been there to “kick his ass.”
Anyway, after that conversation, I really started to think this kid had been taking one too many hits from the bong.
The next morning, I found porn on my computer browser’s history, and it triggered me. I even ended up having to drop one of my classes as a result of that episode, because it was a test day, but I was in too much of a state of meltdown to leave the apartment.
When *Dopey came back from skateboarding, I showed him how to turn on “private browsing” and asked him nicely if he would do that the next time he watched porn on my laptop.
He apologized and promised that he would.
A week later, he dropped the L-bomb.
I didn’t know what he meant at first. I assumed he just meant that he “appreciated” me for taking such good care of him (after all, I was giving him a place to sleep and paying for all of his expenses, which became a huge issue over time, and it eventually got to the point where whenever I refused to pay for something he wanted, he would punish me for it emotionally).
Anyway, I hesitated and reciprocated the sentiment.
One afternoon, we had a big fight that came out of nowhere. He said he felt like a burden on me and said he was going to leave — but at the time, I didn’t want him to. We ended up confessing our “love” for each other, and started saying it on a regular basis. We also sort of established ourselves as an actual “couple.” I’d never had a boyfriend before, but I thought that it would be a good experiment — especially since I had been so wounded by casual relationships in the past, that I thought maybe this would help.
Maybe “love” would help.
For awhile, it was really nice. But man, my depression was really starting to bum him out. It was around this time that I realized that it was no way to live. For the first time, my illness was affecting someone else and not just me. I knew I needed Real Help if I was going to be in this relationship. But I didn’t know how, or if I was ready … So I just upped my dosage of alcohol for the time being.
Eventually, I was able to bring myself to make an appointment with CAPS (the Counseling & Psychological Services on campus). The intake that I had to do over the phone was so stressful, I locked myself in the bathroom with a glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon crying while I regaled the staff member with my story.
When I went in for my appointment, they told me I’d have better luck at the Women’s Center, because they specialized in sexual assault trauma and would offer me more sessions.
But the strength that it took me just to do that first intake was so draining, I decided to put off calling the Women’s Center.
One night while we were having sex, *Dopey asked if he could come in my mouth. I was hesitant, but eventually said that it was okay. He told me to close my eyes. In the end, he gave me a facial instead, and I felt really bad and humiliated, so I spiraled into a depressive episode. He ignored me.
And the next morning, he lectured me again on how my problems aren’t really all that bad, and that I should just learn to get over them.
A few days later, it was Dillo Day again. To make a long story short, *Dopey ended up getting black-out drunk and propositioning one of my friends for sex right in front of me. She said, “Won’t Cassy be angry?” And he said, “Oh, we’re not official.”
Luckily, she put friendship first and turned him down.
Now, I had a strong suspicion that he may have blacked out, but of course I wasn’t going to know for sure until he slept it off hours later.
When he finally woke up, I told him what had happened, and he said he was sorry, and that he loved me.
I had had a long time to think (and feel) about it, so I calmly and rationally explained to him that he was the one whose idea this whole “committed relationship” thing was, and if he ever was tempted to cheat on me, I would want him to talk to me about it first so that we could figure out what to do together before he did anything rash. (This is foreshadowing, people, so pay attention.)
After that, we got into a heated argument about spirituality (because he was a believer, and I was not), which was something we ended up doing a lot (and even though I made an effort to not say anything inflammatory, he never put in that same effort for me, so I was often on the defensive while he attacked me) — and eventually, he said: “I’m sorry, I’m just really upset because I have all these needs that aren’t being met.”
So we started talking about blowjobs, and he asked if it was alright if he got them from somebody else. I said that even if he did, I’d feel pressured to do it. Eventually, he said that it was okay, that he was going to stay faithful, because he really wanted our relationship to work.
He even said that if I offered, he wouldn’t let me do it, because he’d know it wasn’t something I really wanted to do.
I told him that I’d always thought that the one man who ever said that to me, I would happily go down on … But I just couldn’t do it. It’s something I’d been grappling with every single fucking second of every single fucking day for the past 2 years, and I
He accepted that.
But that conversation started triggering my physical flashbacks again, and my anorexia, and my drinking problem — tenfold. I started worrying that every time *Dopey left the apartment to go “skateboarding” or “bike riding,” that he was actually going to get head from someone.
And I started drinking biblically.
I would start drinking as soon as I woke up each morning, and I kept drinking until I passed out each night. It became a routine. Drunkenness became the closest state to happiness that I was capable of achieving, and so I needed spirits in order to keep my spirits up.
Throughout all this, *Dopey continued to tell me that I was enough — more than enough — and that he loved me.
Pretty soon, it was the 4th of July — the day before my 21st birthday. My friends and I were having a BBQ get-together, and at this get-together, there was this girl who *Dopey clearly was into. She spoke Spanish and was, like, three times my size. I knew that *Dopey was instantly attracted to her, but I tried to stifle my inadequacies as much as possible so I could enjoy my night.
As the party progressed, however, I got more and more drunk, and *Dopey spent all of his time sitting on the couch, talking to this girl. At one point, I asked him to dance with me to a song that was playing, and he refused.
I was really inebriated, and really wounded, so I went into my friend’s apartment to cry. A bunch of my friends found me, and it was kind of embarrassing. Eventually, the girl came up and saw me, and I drunkenly pleaded with her not to sleep with my boyfriend. She said she would never do that. I told her that I trusted her — it was him I didn’t trust. She went back outside to tell *Dopey I was in the kitchen crying, so he came inside and retrieved me. He told me I was being ridiculous for feeling threatened by that other girl, that I had “nothing to worry about,” and so we went home and had really rowdy sex. (Feel the foreshadowing building yet?)
I woke up the next morning, on my 21st birthday, with a hangover.
All *Dopey said to me about the night before was, “Take it easy on the alcohol, okay? You get really emotional.”
I still felt that I had had every reason to cry.
About a week or so later, we had another big fight. One night, he came into my apartment carrying a stereo in his arms and said, “Look what I found for us!”
Now, I knew that he was prone to stealing people’s bikes (which I said he had to keep in the basement, not in my room, because I didn’t want to feel like an accomplice to the crime) and shoplifting. So I was a little shaken by what I was seeing now.
“Where did you ‘find’ that?” I asked him. He told me he’d found it “out in the alley,” and then went back to get “more stuff.”
I wasn’t buying it.
When he came back in, I asked him what the hell was going on. And he told me, gleefully, that someone in the neighborhood had left their door unlocked, so he had gone inside and taken their stereo and their wallet — among other things.
I couldn’t believe how proud he looked. I mean, I knew he was a criminal, and I knew that it was a huge part of his way of life — it’s how he had been conditioned to survive — but what the fuck!? So I blew up at him. I told him that what he did was unconscionable, and that there’s a huge difference between stealing avocados from the grocery store and invading someone’s private residence and leaving with their valuables in tow.
I told him that the stereo was not staying here. And I asked him if he had any compassion at all for other human beings. After all, he was so upset the day his bike had been stolen, so didn’t he realize he was making other people feel that same pain when he acted just as carelessly? And how could he know whether the people who lived in that house were good or bad? Maybe they volunteered at soup kitchens, like he did. Maybe they were born into poverty, like he was. Maybe they were friends of a friend of a friend — how could he know?
He got really angry at me for saying these things, and he said, “I don’t need this. I’m out of here tonight.“ The shock and fear that I felt when he said that made me crumble instantly into a sobbing mess.
It’s hard to explain. I knew our relationship was far from perfect, but whenever he threatened to leave me, it was like a bomb going off. It’s almost more intense when it’s an abusive relationship, I think, because you’ve invested that much more of your energy and emotions into it, and so it feels as if the real tragedy would be seeing it all end just to culminate in nothing.
He took pity on me then and said that he was sorry, that he wasn’t actually going to leave me.
I told him how terrified it made me when he said things like that. We made up, and he said he would try his best to be a “better person” for me.
He said, “Let’s never fight like that again. We need to be on the same team.”
I agreed, but I also told him I had my own principles, and that I was going to stand up for what I felt was right, no matter what.
The storm was over, but the stereo stayed in my room for the remainder of our relationship. I hated myself every time that I looked at it, and I staunchly refused to ever use it myself.
The next time we fought was when a friend of mine from out of town was staying on my living room couch. When *Dopey and I went to bed that night, *Dopey looked really upset, so I asked him what the matter was. He said, “I just … don’t feel satisfied in certain aspects.”
UGH. I couldn’t believe we were having this conversation again. Every time, he said it was okay, but then he’d just bring it up again. (COERCION IS NOT CONSENT.) Why would he say it was okay if it really wasn’t?? And of course, he waited until my friend was staying in the other room, so I couldn’t make a big scene …
Anyway, I scoffed at him, rolled off onto my side and said, “Aagghh, I want to kill myself …”
He said, “That’s very selfish of you to say.”
“But I’m telling you that that’s the way it makes me feel …” I replied.
He paused for a moment and said, “… You’re not for me.”
It was such bullshit. Mere hours before this, while we were out on the town together, I mentioned to him that he was my first boyfriend, and he said, “Hopefully, the last!” I didn’t take that comment seriously, but come on, what was with all the mind games? How could he build me up like that just to tear me down?? Of course, I know why he did it now, in retrospect … but at the time …
I asked him, “Can I tell you something true?”
He said, sure.
“The sight of an erect penis really frightens me.”
That took a lot of strength for me to say. My track record regarding talking to men about the effects of my sexual assault trauma was not very good, and I was so ashamed of the reality of the situation to begin with, that most of the time, I kept it bottled up inside of me.
His response? “Then you should find yourself a lesbian.”
Yeah, I know. RAGE. That is an insult to all lesbians and sexual assault survivors everywhere. That’s just not how sexuality works!
So that made me really upset. Eventually, he broke down crying, saying that the problem wasn’t me; he just missed his mom so much.
This was a classic *Dopey defense. Every time we fought, he’d play the abandonment card. It took me awhile to realize it, but his entire search for a girlfriend was really just his way of trying to fill a mother-sized hole in his heart. Or maybe it was all just a clever ruse to evoke sympathy from people so they would give him what he wanted.
Whatever it was, I fell for it. Hard.
Especially this time.
I ended up giving him head.
I went under the covers to do it, because I knew that was the only way I’d be able to manage. I asked him if he was about to leave me, and he said no. “Even if I can’t do this?” I asked. Again, he said no. I could only hope that he meant that, because as far as I was concerned, my life was on the line — or what was left of it, at least.
I still felt humiliated as I did it, and immediately afterward, I spiraled into an insufferable depressive episode. I jumped in the shower as soon as it was over and wept. When I went back into the room, before he could say anything, I invoked “tiredness” and asked if we could just not talk about it.
He agreed and went to sleep.
But I couldn’t sleep. I was having a complete meltdown. My thoughts were cacophonous and disturbing. I sat on the floor with my computer and tried to distract myself, but I couldn’t focus on anything except the unrelenting, abusive racket inside my head.
*Dopey was roused from his sleep at one point, saw me on the floor, and told me to come back to bed. I told him I really just needed to sit there for a minute. He scoffed, “So stupid … I should have never let you do that … COME BACK TO BED, CASSY.” I told him I couldn’t sleep. He said, “Well, then just let me sleep!” I told him no one was preventing him from sleeping. He answered, “I don’t need this shit. I’m out of here in the morning.”
So much for him promising not to leave me.
Naturally, I spent the rest of the night feeling as worthless as I had the very first time I’d tried sucking dick and was subsequently shamed and humiliated.
In the morning, *Dopey borrowed my phone to call his stepdad. The conversation was in Spanish, but I thought I heard something about moving some stuff into a garage.
When he hung up, I said, “So … you’re leaving me?”
He said no, of course not. Then he took me in his arms and said, “I’ll never leave you. Ever. Not even if you never do … what you did last night again.”
Then he left to go for a bike ride. I started thinking: maybe if I could just make myself get used to giving head, it wouldn’t be such a big deal anymore. It wouldn’t ruin my relationships anymore. It wouldn’t be the cause of my self-loathing anymore. Maybe this could be my chance to heal, I thought.
But it was so hard, when just the thought of doing it made me fall apart.
I realized now that I had given *Dopey power over me when I told him I was terrified of his threats of leaving. After all, I had just witnessed him put that knowledge to the test the night before, and it had worked.
I considered briefly just leaving him, before he could get the chance. And then I could finally be with myself again and not constantly have to worry about what someone else might do to me.
Besides, I wasn’t sexually satisfied in our relationship either, so was it really worth my beating myself up over just to please him? I got the proverbial “blue balls” every time we had sex. I hated having to do it doggy-style, and I hated how he made me feel like I wasn’t fat enough, that my breasts weren’t big enough, and how he’d just leave porn on my computer for me to find because “oops, I forgot,” and even though I’d ask him again and again to take his dishes to the sink before he left to go anywhere, he only ever did it when he felt like it, and he was never where he said he was going to be when he said he was going to be there, and he wasn’t even trying to find a job, just leeching off of me greedily, and the only money he ever made he spent on weed, and he never went out of his way to do anything nice for me, and sure, he’d tell me he appreciated me, but that was all I ever got — just words, and “I can’t do anything with your easy words!“
But this was all just crap floating around in my head.
About a week later, I decided to go down on him — of my own accord. I thought that if I did it without him pressuring me, maybe I wouldn’t feel so awful.
I was able to face him afterward at least, so that was a good development.
A little while later, though, he said he wanted to do it doggy-style, so we did, but he was really rough, and I cried throughout most of it. I guess he didn’t notice, or he didn’t want to acknowledge it, and I couldn’t bring myself to stop him. I kept hearing *Doc’s ghost-words in my head, admonishing me because if I ever stopped a man before he came, I’d be “ruining the sex” or “taking it too seriously” and I should just learn to “relax.”
After I emerged from the bathroom, where I had gone to stop crying and recollect myself, I asked *Dopey timidly if it was alright if we set some time aside sometime to work on my ever-elusive orgasm. I was so fucking nervous to even bring it up.
He said absolutely, that he was sorry he had been so selfish, he just didn’t know what to do, and he said we could try it any time I wanted. He said he needed me to walk him through it, though.
The problem was, I wasn’t sure if I could. I didn’t really know what I liked because I was in a constant state of dreading the things I knew I didn’t like — and that was all that sex had ever been for me. I was always on defense. I had never been given the opportunity to explore my sexuality for myself; I was just being constantly dragged along for the ride.
That night, I still cried myself to sleep. The embarrassment I felt for being so afraid to tell him how I felt completely consumed me. I was so ashamed of my reticence that stemmed from the ghost-words of *Doc again, rattling around inside my head, telling me that I was “too much work,” “high-maintenance,” “not worth it.”
I knew that these were ghosts that only existed in my head. But I had no idea how to release them.
One night after that, *Dopey and I had the absolute worst fight imaginable.
We had gone to one of my friend’s birthday parties, and that girl was there. Y’know, the one from the July 4th BBQ. I tried to just act normal and not be a “crazy jealous girlfriend,” and everything was actually really fun — until we got home.
*Dopey had gotten waaaay too drunk at the party. I don’t even know how the fight started, but all of a sudden, he just started screaming at me, telling me that I was “worthless,” “weak,” that I was “dumb as a hell” and a “stupid cunt,” that I would never amount to anything, that my friends didn’t even like me, that I was a piece of shit, that I was terrible at giving head, that he was never going to reciprocate, that I should just kill myself, and that every time he said he loved me, it was a lie.
Eventually, I was just trying to get away from him, but he wouldn’t let me go. He kept following me around, yelling abusive words into my face, and at one point, I found myself standing alone on the back porch — dialing HopeLine.
I didn’t think I was on the verge of suicide or anything … But I felt as though I was literally losing my grip on sanity. I was having a full-on anxiety attack, and I couldn’t envision myself making it through the night.
The lady who took my HopeLine call was nice and compassionate. She just sort of repeated everything that I was saying, told me that it sounded as though my boyfriend was being a real asshole — but not in those words, obviously.
After I hung up, I was still completely flipping my shit.
I decided to call my sister.
I bawled and tried to tell her what was happening. Talking to her made me feel a lot better than talking to a stranger from HopeLine had. (Not to knock the service, because I’m glad that it exists; but don’t ever underestimate the potential that you have, as someone’s friend or family member, to help them through a heavy crisis — just by being there to listen.)
Eventually, I went back inside and tried to fall asleep. *Dopey kept muttering hateful things under his breath, and I asked him to please just go to sleep. He told me I wasn’t letting him go to sleep.
What the fuck, he never made any sense, what even was this …
The next morning, he woke up with a terrible hangover. I said, “So when are you leaving?” He looked hurt and said, “You want me to leave??” I was sort of stunned that that was even a question. I told him, “Um … you said some pretty unforgivable things last night.” He looked at me blankly and responded, “What did I say? I don’t really remember …”
I tried to fill him in as best as I could through my incredulity of what he was saying to me now. He said that he was sorry, that he hadn’t meant to say any of it, and that of course he loved me.
I shouldn’t have forgiven him. I knew that how he made me feel was cause for ending a relationship. But I wanted so badly for him not to have meant any of it, for him to take all of it back, for him to try to make up for the damage he’d done — somehow.
So I believed him.
I told him that it was irresponsible of him to drink to that extent. So he said that I could monitor his drinking from then on, whenever we went out together — just as long as I didn’t tell any of my friends that that was the arrangement. (That never really made much of a difference though, since I, myself, was a steadfast alcoholic, so what could I really do for him?)
We kissed and made up.
That night definitely marked a turning point in our relationship. The lows got even lower and more frequent, and the highs became even fewer and farther between.
Soon it was finally September, so classes had started up again (it was my final year at Northwestern). I also ended up going to the College Feminists’ BBQ that month and speaking with a representative from the Women’s Center about getting myself a counseling appointment, and I was able to do an in-take that same day.
Finally, I was going to be getting Real Help.
On the other hand, *Dopey started verbally abusing me on a regular basis. Whenever we had an argument, he just resorted to name-calling (mainly “bitch” and “cunt”), and then of course, he’d always apologize later and tell me he didn’t mean it.
He also became irrationally jealous and started accusing me of cheating on him with every guy I spoke to (especially one guy in particular, who was another officer on the exec board of my student group).
I started actively trying to take some time apart from *Dopey during this stage, but every time I brought it up, he would threaten me with violence and self-harm/suicide.
By this point, I was suspecting him of harboring some mental illness of his own (perhaps a personality disorder?), and he seemed clearly to be on hard drugs again. But I had no idea what to do about it — especially since I was always caught in the crossfire of his episodes, which made it extremely difficult for me to react with compassion.
What’s more, he always managed to hide his abusive behavior so well from everyone outside of our relationship. The only times he would lash out at me were when we were alone. It was a classic case of gaslighting. I really started to feel like I was crazy. It was my word against his, and he was such an experienced manipulator. I didn’t stand a chance.
He also seemed to wait to pick a fight until we were about to leave to go someplace. Like this one time, I tried to justify certain post-traumatic behaviors I was exhibiting by telling him more about my rape, and — get this — he said, “You weren’t really raped. If you really hadn’t wanted it, you could have stopped it.”
As soon as I heard that, I told him we needed to break up — that I simply couldn’t be with someone who thought like that. (That’s something called victim-blaming, by the way, and it is Not Good.) Unfortunately, we were on our way over to one of my friend’s apartments for a shindig when we had this conversation, so the argument was cut short, and thus, forgotten after awhile.
The next morning, he actually had the nerve to ask me for a blowjob.
I told him I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to go down on him again until he reciprocated.
He said he would have reciprocated right then and there if I hadn’t been on my period. (How convenient for him.) And then he continued to plead for a blowjob until I felt like I had no choice. (COERCION IS NOT CONSENT.) So I did it.
It was a pretty low moment for me, considering everything he had already put me through.
Shortly thereafter, we started talking seriously about oral sex and why he refused to go down on me. At first, he said he was just “bad at it.” I assured him that I would never know the difference, since it had never happened to me before.
The next time we talked about it, though, he said he just didn’t like the way my vagina smelled (note: this was 8 whole months into our relationship), and he told me he wasn’t going to reciprocate oral unless I started douching.
(LISTEN UP, LADIES: DO NOT DOUCHE. DOUCHING IS HARMFUL TO YOUR VAGINAL HEALTH. DO NOT BELIEVE ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU THAT YOU NEED TO DO IT, AND SORT OUT ANYONE YOU HEAR SPREADING THESE LIES. I’ll probably write an actual blog post in the future about the history of the douche, so sit tight for that, and in the meantime, just continue not douching.)
Unfortunately, I didn’t do any research on the subject first. I just went out, bought ALL THE DOUCHES, and started using them daily (even though the directions say to only use it once a week). I was desperate. I knew I would feel the utmost of shame if I had allowed myself to be coerced into giving head that many times — despite all the trauma I’d already suffered — without ever receiving anything in return.
The next time we fought about it, *Dopey said he didn’t care that I’d started douching, that he just didn’t want to do it. So I told him that if that’s the way it was going to be, I was never going to go down on him again. He said, “Fine, then can I get it from someone else??” I said, “Yeah, but we’ll have to break up.”
For some reason, he still wouldn’t accept those conditions. I was so confused as to what the hell he was even holding onto. Our relationship had gone to complete and utter shit. Why didn’t he just let it die??
*Dopey’s insane jealousy also reached the boiling point around this time. He had somehow convinced himself that I was sleeping with this guy who helped me run my student group — someone with whom I had only ever had a business relationship — and it didn’t help that one night, we had planned a group event that involved us “guarding the Rock” in a camping tent overnight, so that we could paint it the next day.
*Dopey didn’t understand why I had to stay overnight in a tent with other people (some of whom possessed penises); he just didn’t seem to grasp the complexities involved with running a student group. But anyway, needless to say, the night of the painting, he came by and picked a huge fight with me. He wound up threatening to beat up the guy he erroneously thought I was sleeping with, and the more I tried to talk him down, the more he became convinced that I was covering something up.
He followed me all around campus while I tried to get away from him. I told him I just needed to be alone, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He began verbally abusing me again — calling me a “cunt” and saying all sorts of misogynistic things — and I recall threatening to call the police at one point if he didn’t leave me alone, but he just continued to terrorize me until I backed down.
The next day, I had to stay by the Rock for the entire day, because of the nature of the event we had planned which revolved around that site, and *Dopey texted me incessantly, trying to guilt-trip me about ignoring him/abandoning him/not feeding him that day. He even broke my laptop on purpose (for the second time, might I add — he was always trying to prove to me that I was materialistic and spoiled by breaking all my shit), and he confessed to doing it, in hopes that it would get me to come back home to him.
—> NOTE: This is the kind of manipulation that is pervasive in abusive relationships. Another way to deduce abuse from an outsider’s perspective is to be vigilant about your friend’s relationship with his/her cell phone. Are they constantly checking it when they’re away from their partner? Stressing out about their partner’s incessant texting/calling? The abuser could be exerting a very unhealthy level of control over your friend that could eventually escalate into something worse. Make sure you are there to offer support; ask questions and do not judge, simply listen.
That night, I decided that I was 100% certain that I was going to break up with him. But I really needed to get through the busy weekend I had planned with my student group activities before adding all of that extraordinary drama to the mix. So in the meantime, I just told him — sure, go fulfill your sexual needs elsewhere. Fuck whomever you like.
His response to that was just to give me the finger. (What?! He’d been asking for my permission to do that for months; why was it that when I finally granted him that, he acted as if I was being unfair?!)
The next night, my student organization was throwing a pasta party for our group members, and *Dopey tagged along — only for the free food and beer, of course. He ended up just usurping several beers from my friend’s refrigerator and promptly leaving with them upon arriving.
I was so furious and embarrassed. I couldn’t have been more resolved to break up with him.
The next morning, I confronted *Dopey about breaking up. He completely spun out of control. He called me weak for “giving up” on us. I told him that he couldn’t hold me hostage in this relationship without my consent, to which he retaliated by saying that I couldn’t break up with him without his consent.
Yeah, no, I’m really not sure that’s how it works …
He kept insulting me — and threatening me — but I continued to hold my ground so strongly, that he finally realized I was being serious, so he resorted to crying and accusing me of “breaking his heart.”
He insisted that he needed “one more chance” to “work things out” and to “prove his love.” I told him that I at least needed a break. But I could only get him to agree to one week of separation.
After he left, he sent texts to me the rest of the night, saying he was going to kill himself, that he was drinking himself to death — just trying to guilt me into changing my mind.
I replied, but mostly denied him. (And boy did it take everything that I had!)
Still, I cried all night, feeling such an immense amount of guilt for putting him out on the street in the middle of the night in the cold. As a result, I didn’t have a restful sleep that night either.
He came back over the next morning to pick up some things that he needed. As he was leaving, he told me he loved me. I responded with, “Take care,” but as I was about to close the door, he propped it open with his hand and repeated the words, expectantly. I didn’t say anything. He looked as if he was on the verge of crying. I embraced him and told him I just needed some time, and that I did care about him a lot. He nodded and left, despondent.
As soon as he was gone, I wept. It wasn’t the depressed kind of crying, but the grief kind of crying. I was mourning what I knew was the end. I could feel that it was over. There was no salvaging this wreckage of a relationship. It was really over.
He ended up stopping by later that day, saying that he had been thinking, and that he was sorry for all the hell he’d put me through for the last few months. He promised me that there would be no more suspicions, threats, or insults.
I wasn’t sure I believed him. I mean, we always made up after a big fight. He always promised me that things would be different. And then, inevitably, a few days later, shit would hit the fan all over again. I couldn’t trust him.
——> RELATED: As soon as I started telling my Women’s Center counselor about *Dopey, she said that what I was describing was referred to as “the cycle of abuse” (which always consists of the deceptive “reconciliation” and “honeymoon” periods after the abusive outbursts) and she showed me THIS IMAGE, which completely altered my perception of the relationship I was in:
The image that changed my life and how I thought about interpersonal relationships.
I was shocked by how many of those controlling tactics *Dopey had been guilty of, and I was half-terrified and half-invigorated to learn that what had been happening to me was, indeed, abuse. Please look it over and ask yourself: am I in a safe, mutually-respectful relationship? <——
Days went by, and he wouldn’t stop calling me. I told him that we were supposed to be on a break, which means he needed to stop calling me incessantly. He got all defensive and hurt, told me I should just go fuck “my new boyfriend.” I knew he was just trying to manipulate me yet again, so I tried to brush it off.
Unfortunately, he always managed to weasel his way back in (he still had all his stuff at my apartment, so he was always able to find an excuse).
One night, while he was resting in my bed for a minute after stopping by, I asked him if he wanted to go with me to ROSS (because I desperately needed new clothes), but he said no, that he’d rather just stay in my bed and nap and wait for me to come back.
I went out and bought a pair of jeans (among other things), because *Dopey was always telling me how much he wanted to see me in jeans. But I got waylaid on my way back because the bus that *Dopey had assured me would still be running later wasn’t, so I had to walk all the way in the other direction to catch the train, and it was just really late by the time I got back.
Before I went into my room where *Dopey was, I decided to put on the jeans I had just bought — to surprise him.
When I walked in the room and said “Ta-da!” I noticed something odd. The fitted sheet on my bed had been pulled up, and written in black Sharpie on the bedding beneath it were the letters “I FUC.” *Dopey was sitting on my bed, with my computer in his lap, and he was wearing a white wife-beater that had clearly been vandalized by Sharpie as well, but with the completed phrase: “I FUCK MODELS AND FAT BITCHES.”
Needless to say, I was a little confused. I walked over to him and apologized for taking so long and explained my night’s plight with public transportation.
When I looked at my computer screen, I saw he had pulled up dozens of really explicit pornographic images (remember: he knew very well that porn was a trigger for me) and inserted them into my iPhoto. I exclaimed something like “what the fuck?,” grabbed the laptop from him and started deleting all the images.
After I’d disposed of them all, I discovered that *Dopey had also changed my desktop image to a picture of his ex-girlfriend.
I demanded to know what the fuck was going on. He said, “I’m sorry, I just … you left me here alone for too long … I ended up spending too much time on Facebook …”
Apparently, he’d found a video on my page from a high school production of “Crazy For You!” that I was in, in which I kissed a guy on stage before singing my solo.
I argued, “That was from high school! It was in the script!!” He said he didn’t care, that he wanted me to take it down. I said that I wouldn’t, that I was proud of that performance, and that that video mattered to other people too who were in the number, and my mom was the one who uploaded it anyway.
Then he said he also found a bunch of pictures on my page of me and some guy and who the hell was he. I told him, “He’s one of my best friends — of course we have pictures together! And he’s gay!!” And then he got all defensive and asked how he was supposed to know that.
I was really pissed by this point. It’s not my fault he didn’t know how Facebook worked, and he could’ve tried talking to me first, before getting all mad over such petty little things and then acting all passive-aggressive, vandalizing my possessions and deliberately trying to trigger me. It was simply maddening.
I told him I didn’t have to take this, so I asked him to please leave. He refused. So I told him he had to leave right now. He still wouldn’t.
We ended up getting into a huge shouting match, the height of which resulted in *Dopey shattering my full-length mirror with his fist, grabbing one of the shards of glass from the ground, locking himself in my bathroom with it in his hand, and threatening to slit his wrists unless I told him that I loved him.
Somehow, I managed to talk him out of there without saying anything of the sort (because let’s be honest, he was not behaving lovably, and in that moment, I truly hated him).
When he came out of the bathroom, he was weeping and said that he really needed help. I told him I’d been trying to help him the best that I could, but that I needed help too, and all he ever did was mistreat me. He said I was being insensitive, so he called his brother and after talking to him for awhile, he decided to go home to his stepdad’s house for the night.
I thought that was a great idea.
After he left, I examined the wreckage of my room, not knowing what to do next.
From the night *Dopey shattered my mirror with his fist, October 2011. Intimidation through violence is a very common symptom of domestic abuse.
By the end of the week that was supposed to be our “break”, one of my closest friends invited me over for drinks. She told me that she had heard from her roommate, who had heard from a mutual friend, who had heard from that girl from the July 4th BBQ, that *Dopey had cheated on me with her — months ago.
I wasn’t surprised … but it still felt like a bullet to the heart. Especially when I reflected on all the times he’d lied about it, and how he had been accusing me all this time of being the unfaithful one.
It was a good way to distract me from uncovering the truth, I’ll give him that.
I went home that night, put all of his stuff into garbage bags, and moved them to the storage unit in the basement, so he wouldn’t have any legitimate reason to come into my apartment ever again. I knew that I had to do this, if he was ever going to really leave.
The next morning, when he called me, I told him that I knew about how he cheated on me, that his stuff was in the basement, and that we were over. He tried to justify what had happened — saying that it was only because we had been fighting and he needed a place to sleep one night — and when that excuse didn’t work, he said that it was “only a blowjob” — and when that excuse didn’t work, he said he only did it because she told him that I was cheating on him.
Such complete and utter bullshit.
I hung up on him, and I felt ecstatic. It was a tremendous weight that I had finally escaped out from under. My counselor, all my friends — everyone was so proud of me. And so was I.
The next day, after counseling, I decided to buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate my newfound freedom. I ended up going a little overboard and drinking the entire thing. As soon as I realized I was too drunk, *Dopey called. I wouldn’t have answered it, but I was so inebriated that I did.
He asked me if he could meet me somewhere, to talk. He said he just needed to explain himself. I said no, but he kept badgering me, so I agreed. I knew it wasn’t going to change anything, and it would’ve been nice to end on friendly terms with him — and did I mention I was drunk?
I went to the place we had agreed to meet, and he wasn’t there. I ended up waiting — in the midwestern cold — for a ridiculous amount of time before I decided to go into the nearest building to warm up. That’s when I got a call from *Dopey saying he just got out of work. I told him I’d been waiting for an hour. He said he was sorry and that he’d be right there.
When he got there, he asked if we could go for a walk. I told him that wouldn’t be necessary, and to just say whatever he needed to say and be done with it.
He told me that he knew he fucked up — that he really fucked up — and that if he had known he was going to lose me, he never would have done it, and blah blah blah.
He even asked me then if we could spend just “one more night together.” I laughed in his face.
It was true that that sort of tactic had worked with me before (the only times I ever enjoyed having sex with him was when he was trying to make something up to me after some huge blowout we’d had), but it wasn’t going to work this time.
Then he beseeched me to at least sit with him for awhile on the rocks by the lake. I asked him what the point of that would be. He said, “I need to walk away from this knowing that I had this time with you, that I tried.”
I guess I was touched, or I took pity on him or something, because I ended up granting his request.
We sat on the rocks for hours. He broke down weeping, telling me how much he regretted what he did, how he was going to miss me, and he enumerated all the things he loved about me. He said he’d been sleeping in the storage unit the past few nights (such a lie; he wasn’t there the night before last when I threw all his stuff out). I asked why he didn’t just call up that girl if he needed a place to sleep. He said he only wanted me and no one else. He told me how his heart was broken, but said it was all his fault — that he did this. I admired him for admitting that.
He then asked me for a hug. I said, “Would that really help? I don’t want to make this any harder for you than it already is …” He said that the only thing that would help would be having my arms around him, so I held him for awhile as he sobbed.
I was being careful to keep my armor up throughout all of this. I knew he could very well just be trying to manipulate me some more, but I couldn’t believe some of the things that he was saying. He told me that he realized now that he hadn’t been showing me that he had my best interests at heart, that deep down he just wanted me to feel happy and free, that he would never forgive himself for making me feel trapped and controlled, and that even though he wanted me back — and that he was going to keep trying and trying and never give up — he really just wanted what was best for me, and if leaving him was going to make me happy, then he knew he’d have to accept that.
He also declared that the problem with our relationship was that he wasn’t trying hard enough, but now that he had a new job, he was going to work hard, save money, and prove to me that he could be independent and responsible. He then tried to reassure me that he was never after me for my money.
We held each other for a long time and cried.
After awhile, he said he really wasn’t looking forward to sleeping without me that night. I suggested that we could just sit out on the rocks all night together and watch the sun rise, if he wanted. He said that sounded good, but that we were going to need some beers and blankets. We went back to my apartment for those supplies (I didn’t let him in, though, of course), and then we ended up sitting out on the beach together, drinking and snuggling.
I really felt that this was the right thing to do. I didn’t want our relationship to go down in flames; I wanted this beautiful, peaceful, perfect end. We had been through so much together, after all. I didn’t want us to go straight from being lovers to being rivals.
Eventually, he tentatively tried to kiss me. I received it well, and then we started making out feverishly. It was kind of awesome; there was this burning desire that had never been there before (probably due to the fact that it felt a little risky and dangerous, and that he was so determined to win me over, but I didn’t care about all that — it just felt so good).
We ended up making love on the beach. He even made a move to go down on me at one point, but I stopped him because I was still spotting a little bit from my period, and I didn’t want him to have to endure that.
After awhile, it got way too cold, and I asked him if he just wanted to go back to my place. He said, “That is entirely your decision.” Boy, did I love hearing that. I told him, “Alright, we’ll go up to my room — but it’s just going to be this one. time.“ He nodded in understanding. He even paid (!!!!) for the snacks that we got from 7-11 on the way back.
When we got to my room, we made love again. It was pure passion, for the first time. He asked me if he could take me out to breakfast the next morning. I told him I would love that. Then, we fell asleep in each other’s arms.
The following day, we did end up going out for breakfast, and he did in fact pay for the meal. I was impressed by his initiative and by the fact that he actually followed through with something for a change, so I asked him if he wanted to accompany me to a movie I’d been looking forward to seeing for months, and he did.
After the movie, we went back to my place for mimosas and Scrabble (finally! He was a good sport about losing, too).
I even ended up not going out with my friends that night like I had planned, because I was just having too good of a time with *Dopey. I wanted to milk this weekend for everything it was worth, because he was being so wonderful to me. We made love again and watched another movie together.
After that, though, we got revved up to have sex again, but from behind this time. When he entered me, it hurt, so I started crying … And then I realized: wait a minute. We’re not even together anymore; I don’t have to take this shit! So I asked him if we could just stop and do something else instead. He reacted so sweetly and said, “Of course we can … We don’t have to have sex.”
He pulled me into his arms and I immediately erupted into tears. He asked me why I was so sad, and I said I didn’t know. Then he told me that he loved me, and I said, through choked tears, “I guess I just … finally feel like you do.”
He held me tighter after that and said that he was all mine, and that he was going to try 120% to be perfect for me.
I responded to that by reminding him that in the morning, it was going to have to be over. He said that he realized that. So I thanked him for the past few days. He thanked me too. Then we fell asleep.
The next morning, I had to wake up early to go to work. When we said goodbye, he told me he’d love to take me out for dinner sometime. I told him we needed to start small. He agreed, and then he left.
Even though things quickly turned to shit again after that, I still don’t regret having done it. It was the most romantic weekend of my entire life, and while it didn’t make up for the past, it gave me something nice to remember him by.
A few nights later, he asked if he could come over and “hang out.” I said that I had a lot of homework to do, so we could only hang out for a little bit. When he showed up, he was high out of his mind. I had always hated seeing him like that. It was so … not sexy. And he was always so much less considerate and less interesting when he was high. Needless to say, he was really getting on my nerves, so after a couple hours, I said he needed to leave so I could get back to my work.
He got all defensive and started acting all entitled to stay the night. Well, I was having none of that. I kicked him out, and then he kept me up all night sending me these really angry text messages, thanking me sarcastically for making him sleep outside in the cold rain.
Another night, he got angry that I hadn’t invited him to hang out with me and my friends, so he started texting them, and that’s when I realized this mess could potentially spin out of my control and affect other people’s sanity and safety, not just mine.
The next day, when he called me, I told him he really needed to stop and just leave me alone.
He continued trying to guilt me into seeing him, threatening that he would seek revenge, trying to find ways to get his foot back in the door (e.g., he needed to pick up “his” mini-fridge [which he probably stole] and “his” air-conditioning unit [which I had rightly paid for]). I probably would’ve caved if it hadn’t been for my counselor telling me again and again that my safety should always come first, and that if I felt the need to call the police about his harassment, then I shouldn’t hesitate.
Of course, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. He was an illegal immigrant, and I just … couldn’t do something like that to him and his family. I decided to just block his phone number instead. When he figured out I’d done that, he “got a new number” and started harassing me with that one, so I had to block that one too.
He continued harassing me — and even stalking me. He would go to great lengths to figure out where I was, and of course, he knew where I lived, so he would habitually come by and throw pebbles at my window. To this day, I feel a jolt of terror every time I’m sitting in my room and I hear a sound reminiscent of a pebble hitting my window … Because of this, I kept the blinds closed all day long and kept all of the lights off each night. And every time I heard a skateboard or a bicycle go by, I would panic and hit the floor. I also cut off my alcohol consumption entirely, because I realized how vulnerable to attack it made me. I needed to stay sober, so that if I ever ran into him, I’d at least be thinking clearly.
Eventually, I knew I had to tell my roommates about what was going on, because what if he came to the door while I wasn’t there and told them some lie about why he had to come inside? He could steal or destroy my (or their) property — behavior that I already knew too well was not beneath him.
It wasn’t fair that I had to live in such fear. It wasn’t fair that I had to feel so unsafe in my own home. But that’s how terrorism works. He was a terrorist, and I was a victim of terror.
It took many months for his stalking behaviors to calm down, and while there hasn’t been an incident in a long time, I still don’t feel safe in this town. I stopped feeling safe here the first time *Doc ever raped me — 3 years ago — and everything just snowballed from there. Luckily, I’ll be moving to a new environment at the end of the month, so from here on out, it’s just going to be a clean break. A fresh start.