Understanding the Signs
Below is a true story of hope related to domestic violence and sexual assault from a previous SAFE San Juans client.
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 I became more withdrawn, more fatigued, and more overwhelmed.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.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please know that your identity will be kept confidential unless otherwise specified.
Want to share your story? Click the link below.