My relationship only lasted four months, but they were the longest and most stressful four months of my entire love life. I experienced a teen dating violence relationship with my 17-year-old boyfriend. I had been working at burger place at the time for over a year when I met Drake. He was a cute German boy who had just moved into town with his dad. At first, he seemed like he wasfunny, outgoing, down to earth and a great singer. In fact, he would sing to me sometimes and it would make me blush. I didn’t talk to guys much because I was so shy.
It all started the day Drake asked me out on a date. I laughed and said “You’re crazy!” When he asked again, he was so sweet to me and I said yes. We started hanging out with his friends, playing video games, having water balloon fights, swimming and getting to know each other. We would go on casual dates and hang out when we were bored. One day he started teasing me saying we should be boyfriend and girlfriend. I laughed and got embarrassed, then I had my first kiss, with him. We became an official couple and started hanging out a lot. At first, it seemed like a fairy tale. My family liked him, they said he was funny and outgoing, and that it seemed like he made me happy.
Things started changing slowing. Looking back, I now realize those subtle changes and it amazes me to see how blind, or maybe even ignorant, I was. I lived through an intimate partner violence relationship. According to the World Health Organization, intimate partner violence is known as abusive behavior within a marriage or couple dating that can include physical attacks, verbal attacks, psychological abuse, forced intercourse, and other forms of controlling behaviors.
I loved spending time with Drake, so when he started asking me not to see my friends, I thought he just wanted to spend more time with me. It bothered me at first, but eventually I did what he wanted and stopped hanging out with my friends. Then, he would feed me reasons to believe that I should be upset with my parents and caused arguments in my family in an attempt to turn me against them. I didn’t know it at the time, but a common first step abusers take to gain control is isolating their victim from their loved ones. Things were still going great and I was spending most of my time with him. We got very close, and I called it love.
Before I knew it, he started becoming more controlling. He began asking me who I was texting and calling, and constantly wanting to know who I was speaking with on the phone. He would want to check my phone and would go through my personal text messages and calls. When we were apart he showed signs of controlling behavior by texting and calling me all the time just to see what I was doing, who I was with and where I was. These actions are just another form of an unhealthy relationship. After two months of dating his dad was re-located to another city. Drake convinced me to keep a long distance relationship, promising that he would come visit me every two weeks. He kept his word, but when he wasn’t around it got worse. He started asking me to send him pictures of where I was and what I was doing because he didn’t trust me. I was on the phone more than half of my day every day, and I was starting to get tired of it.
When my birthday came around,we had been dating for four months and we were “in love.” He surprised me by coming into town with a dozen flowers at showing up at the restaurant where I was eating with some friends. He got jealous of a guy friend sitting next to me at the table and made a huge scene about it. He started screaming at my friend in the restaurant and wanted to push him. He rushed out of the restaurant and I rushed after him to calm him down. Then, he did the last thing I ever expected him to do and pushed me and told me to back away. That push was an eye opener for me. It helped me realize that my relationship wasn’t healthy and it was only going to get worse. I started getting scared. If he was willing to push me around, what else was he willing to do? I broke up with him on my birthday and he was very upset. He started stalking me—following me, showing up to my house unannounced, calling me several times a day. On his last day in town, he sneaked into my bedroom uninvited in the middle of the night while I was home alone. He slipped into my bed and laid next to me without me feeling a thing. When my parents got home, they woke me up with their yelling and only then did I realize what he had done. I was freaked out that he would invade my personal space without an invitation.
The next day my mom asked me why Drake was there, I told her that I didn’t let him in and she didn’t believe me. I had a meeting that day so I rushed to work. When I got there he was at the door waiting for me. I asked him to leave and he refused. I went inside and my managers asked him to leave. He cried and said, “I love her let me see her.” They threatened him by saying they would call the cops if he didn’t leave, so he stood outside and said he would wait until the meeting was over. I rushed out through the back door and went home, then my phone rang. It was his mother crying, begging me not to call the cops and press charges, promising that she would take care of it. I told her I just wanted him away from me, that he had pushed me and I wanted nothing to do with him. As he drove back home he called me and left me a voicemail apologizing for everything he had done, I took his apology but I never took him back.
He was my first love, I was infatuated and couldn’t see the reality of my situation. I saw the relationship quickly move from a loving boyfriend to a controlling abuser who separated me from my friends, turned me against my parents, controlled my actions, verbally abused me and pushed me. I was lucky enough to end it before it led to any serious consequences. I had a couple nightmares and, at first, I had problems trusting other guys. But that changed after time.
A lot of girls aren’t lucky enough to get out so quickly from a teen dating violence relationship. Some red flags to look for are, control over your work and school, keeping you away from friends and family, being verbally abusive, checking your phone constantly and overall doesn’t give you privacy. Effects of intimate partner violence can be physical injuries, stomach disorders, chronic pain disorders, depression, and suicidal behavior. You are your own person and whoever becomes your partner should want you to be a part of your world not just their world. We are all allowed our personal space and need it in order to make a relationship work. This taught me everything I had to learn in a nutshell about relationships, and I don’t regret a bit of it.