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Understanding the Signs

Trigger Warning.

Below is a true story of hope related to domestic violence and sexual assault from a previous SAFE San Juans client.

Story DV

Story of Hope

Written by an anonymous client of SAFE San Juans.

To this day, I still don’t fully understand when my relationship became abusive. I was fully aware of what makes a relationship healthy and unhealthy, I knew all the signs to look for.  And yet I still ended up in an abusive relationship. It’s not something that happened overnight. It happened slowly, one little thing at a time, something that could be explained away or excused. It was because of the trauma he experienced, he didn’t mean to do it, he had a bad day, we just needed to work on our communication more, I needed to share my emotions more, he just needed to get help and have someone believe in him. I thought I could be that someone.

Throughout the relationship, I always had hope. I see now my hope was directed in the wrong place. I continued to have hope that he would get better, and that things would then get better for us.  I continued to hope that the verbal abuse, the threats, the gaslighting, the lies, the intimidation, and the assaults would stop. Instead they continued to get worse and worse until I felt like I had barely any hope left.

When we became engaged, something didn’t feel right. I wasn’t excited. I didn’t want to tell people. This was something I had always dreamed of, and here I was keeping it a secret. I became more withdrawn, more fatigued, and more overwhelmed. My body was telling me something was wrong. And I finally started to listen.

As hard as it is for me to fully understand when my relationship became abusive, it is also hard for me to understand when I began to realize I needed to be done with it. This too happened slowly. I slowly began to reach out to friends and share little bits and pieces of what was going on. It began in desperation, like when he took my car, or when I felt too unsafe to stay at our place. It felt so good to be  believed and listened to non-judgmentally. It felt completely different than how I felt in my relationship.


I am so thankful for my church and SAFE San Juans for the help they both gave me during this time. They provided me the support and safety, both physically and emotionally, that I needed to get out of the relationship when I was ready. It was hard to leave him. It’s hard to make sense of or explain, but even amidst the abuse, I still cared deeply about him. Leaving didn’t happen all at once or in a neat and tidy way. But it happened.

I still have hope, but my hope is now directed towards a new life and future. While I still struggle at times, I have hope that things will continue to get better. I have hope that I will one day find a loving and healthy relationship. I have hope that I will continue to heal. And I have hope that I can also be a support for others who may be in similar situations.


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