‘She doesn’t have the upper hand anymore,’ they wrote as I cried during mediation at my residential hall. I froze as I began to realise that this was a play of power to them. Seeing their writing was the only truth that could have ever convinced me that I was in an abusive relationship and that, even in plain sight, none of my friends had recognised it.
So I say to silenced survivors,
You are resilient;
Your feelings are valid;
Your memory is trustworthy.
I wish I had been able to uncover my feelings for them and discover the agony they brought to my life. They had successfully wrapped me in a blanket of dependency, guilt, and a feeling of owing them all that I could give. It suffocated me and then some, but sometimes they listened, so I chose to stay. I told myself again and again that this is not a relationship. Love is not doing things out of fear. If they give you a reason to be scared, it is not safe. You are not responsible for their anger, even if it rose when you attempted to stand up for yourself. It is okay if you love them still. It is okay if you are just as scared to leave them.
Tear yourself away from the clenches of their fists slowly, but steadily. Believe in yourself. Confide in the services offered to us, and share what you can with the people you trust. It will be painful, but you will heal greater the further you are from their torment. Demanding may be dangerous. Gradually taking away their power over you might seem like nothing is changing, but it is. You are growing out of the depths of their control. Take whichever path is safest, and know that we are a community. We are listening, and we understand and respect your experience.
I am still trying to grow out of their manipulation of my personality. I am still trying to take away their ownership of me. To them, we are not our own entity. I am lucky to have a safe space, and call on you to please try to reach out if you can and if it is safe to do so.