|March 9, 2006
|I received an email from a young
college woman. "Ashley" wrote a insightful essay
detailing her abuse
experience with her former boy friend, Ryan. She asked if I
would publish her story so that others could learn from her
experience; gladly, I did.
Good tidings to you young Ashley - and thanks
for sharing your healthy attitude and your good advice!
I have not lived for very long. Some of you would say I have hardly
lived at all. It may be hard for you to take advice from such a young
You may be thinking that the worst in my life is yet to come. While I
agree that I have many years of difficulties ahead of me, I know how you
feel. I have lived the hell that is abuse. I have taken the power into
my own hands and grown. I have experienced a fundamental change in my
short life. I have moved on from an abusive relationship.
When I was in the eighth grade my grandparents passed away. They were
sick for a long time. I was extremely close to my dadís parents. I never
really thought they were as ill as they were. I guess I was just a naive
My grandfather died first. A month later my grandmother followed him
to heaven. I do not regret losing them. I miss both of them terribly,
but their death sent me on a long journey that made me the person I am
I am aware that everyone loses family. However, I think my family
took it way worse then most peoples. What was an extremely religious
family, stopped going to church. My father no longer believed in God.
Prayer was no longer said before dinner. He was not the same dad as
before. This caused my mom to change also. What was once a happy family
was now crumbling. My parents misery started to spill into my life. I
fell into a deep depression. If you would have asked me then I would
have told you that I was not sad, that I was fine. But, I was not fine.
I stopped talking to my friends. My grades dropped dramatically. My once
loving family seemed to disappear. My parents were in there own little
world far away from mine.
The depression continued into my freshman year of high school. I was
still very sad and did not want to make new friends. My parents thought
it would be good to send me a Catholic school. They thought it would
force me to make new friends. From the outside I looked normal. I was a
varsity cheerleader. I had pink purses and blonde hair. I had tons of
"friends". The truth is that non of these "friends" were my friends.
They were acquaintances.
I partied with them. I did everything with them, and they never even
knew the real me. They did not know that I went home every night and
cried myself to sleep. They didnít know that inside something didnít
feel right. I wasnít normal.
About three months into my freshman year I met Ryan. He was very
attractive, and the star of the football team. Ryan started dropping
hints that he liked me. I was so excited. I had not been happy in so
long and it seemed to me that he was what I needed to make my drought
disappear. Being with him was so much fun. When I was around Ryan I
didnít think about my family. We started dating right away. I gradually
felt better. I stopped crying myself to sleep. I thought I had someone
that loved me. I truly believed he cared about me more than anyone else
did. I became very attached to him. I would get him whatever he wanted.
I waited on him hand and foot. I did whatever I thought it would take to
keep him with me.
Ryan gradually became more and more possessive. He would yell at me
for wearing certain outfits. He would tell me that I looked "slutty" or
"cheap". During our sophomore year, he saw me "looking" at his friend
Adam ( I wasnít). He got incredibly angry at me. He started yelling at
me and telling me I was ugly and fat. That I should be lucky that I had
him, because he could have any girl he wanted. This was the first of
what seemed to be hundreds arguments. These "arguments" consisted of him
yelling and me crying to the point of almost vomiting. They got worse
over the years. He said things to me that I wouldnít say to my enemies.
I know that you have been there. You know the feeling. The fear of being
alone. I did not leave because I felt like I needed him. I knew that our
relationship was not healthy, but for some reason the thought of leaving
him seemed like the end of the world. I continued to stay with him all
through high school. I was deeply attached to him.
Ryan, just like most abusers, could act so sweet. He fooled everyone.
Ryan even tricked my parents into loving him. The faculty at school
loved us too. Everyone adored "Ryan and Ashley". My friends would even
tell me how lucky I was to be with Ryan. We even got voted "cutest
couple" in our senior polls.
I continued to date him through summer, and right into college. He
stayed at home to go to school. At first I cried every night because I
missed him so much. He would call me often. He told me that he loved me
and he missed me.
After being in college for about a month and witnessing life with out
chains, I started to wonder why I was even with Ryan. When he called me
and told me that he loved me, I began to doubt it. I think what he
really loved was me being his maid, his doll. I started to feel power
over him. If I did not want to talk to him, I simply would not answer
the phone. Yes, he would get mad at me, but he couldnít do anything
about it. I thought it was funny. I began to cry less and less.
I finally called Ryan and told him it was over. I told him how I
didnít need him. I told him that I would be better without him. I told
him I deserved a guy who was kind, caring, and gentle. A guy who
wouldnít yell at me, even if I did upset him. I said "Fuck you Ryan". He
had said it to me so many times. It felt great to finally say it to him.
This time HE cried. This was the first time I had ever made him cry. It
made me laugh. I was so happy that HE was the one crying. After I hung
up the phone with him I cried. I cried harder than I have cried my whole
life. I thought about all of the times that he screamed at me. About all
of the times that he held me in his arms and acted like he cared. I
thought about my poor parents that had no idea what hell I had been
through for the last four years. I thought about the fact that I was
free. I could do whatever I wanted, and I didnít have to answer to
anyone. I was really, truly happy.
I still to this day have no idea why I stayed with Ryan for so long.
I do know however, that I will never let myself be treated like that
again. I am proud of myself for moving on and not going back to him.
Whenever he calls (he still does as recently as 3 days ago) I press
ignore on my phone. I like to think that it is because I am too strong
It may sound strange, but I appreciate Ryan. He forced me to become
the strong, secure, mature woman I am today. I have been through so many
different changes because of him. Changes that although tough, forced me
to evolve. He has helped me to see that I have the ability to change my
Because of him, I will not settle for anything less than the best,
and neither should you.
Use your anger to grow. Become the woman they would hate for you to
be. Allow yourself to accept changes. Use them to your own benefit. By
not growing, we are allowing them to still have power over us. Stand up
for yourself and become the strong women you were meant to be. Do not
cry over the men who abused you, thank them for who you will become.
Change yourself for the better. The power to transform is in your hands.
You have been held down for too long. Today is the day you take charge
of your own life. Rise up and allow yourself to grow.